I promise I will stop dedicating posts to Nie so you do not tire of them. But I was going to email Stephanie a long email in response to this post and decided I wanted to say it here since it describes a big part of my life right now. I know it is long and I hope it is not too depressing. It is real, and hard, but I am so blessed too.
Stephanie, You are as beautiful as anyone can be. You are the most remarkable person and so lovely inside and out. Seriously, the inner beauty that you contain could not compare to model beauty - they are tiny smurfs in comparison to your giant beauty.
I relate to this particular struggle, because I have a chronic illness (Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction) that has taken my looks and thrown them against the pavement with a splat. I have huge cystic acne that takes forever to heal, I have gained 100 pounds, I am pale and my eyes are sunken in with dark circles under them that never go away. I could go on, and yes, I know it could be much worse, and this may seem very petty and dumb in comparison, but it has been so hard to lose the sense of identity I had tied to my looks.
I feel so much worse when I exercise that I can't handle it, even though I used to love it - so I can't seem to make a dent in the weight, even on a grain-free, hardly any natural sweetener diet. So many systems in my body have gone haywire, including my thyroid and adrenal glands and I know they play a part in that.
I have also lost some of the things I could do that I tied my identity to, at least for now. I haven't accomplished the things I have wanted to in life. I guess the Lord has a much different plan for me. It is difficult when many days, all I can do is go from the bed, getting up to go to the bathroom no less than 1,000 times, to the computer so I can sit up for a while and be awake, to the couch and then back to bed with my greasy hair slathered to my head, in my pajamas and hope that no one looks too closely when I pick Jake up from school because I look like a scary mcfright show. But I try to remember who I am on the inside. I know I put too much stock in what others think of me and my weight gain (when I do actually use the energy it takes to shower and go out in the world). It makes me hide from the world. But not you. You are courageous in the face of losing the easy movement in your skin, the worldly beauty that you knew before. You are courageous, even though you look different than you did, and different to the world. You are beautiful beyond compare.
Love emanates from you. God's love. Pure love. Thank you for sharing your beautiful self with all of us. You inspire me daily to forget the things that don't matter and focus on the things that do. Thank you, above all, for reminding me of Christ's love.