{you're so vain}

and by you're, I mean I'm. I'm so vain.

Let me clarify. My teeth. I hate them. My teeth have been the source of numerous self-image issues. To say that my teeth have bothered me is the understatement of the {century}. I had braces from 5th to 7th grade. talk about traumatizing. The only bright side to that was that I got the dang things off before I started 7th grade which was a pretty big deal at my small school. moving up the hill. as we called it. sorry, I drifted there. Anyway, I was so thankful to get rid of those things that the retainer {they told a thirteen year old to wear morning, noon, and night} was quickly lost forgotten. I knew it was a bad idea, but I wasn't old enough or mature enough to really see the consequences that would come later.

well, welcome to later. here I am at twenty-three years old. unhappy with my teeth. {rightfully so considering this is all my fault} I love to smile. so much. I love to smile at everyone. and I really mean everyone. I especially love to smile at people who least expect it. I love to see the surprise on their face. {especially when I am in East Asia. It really catches them off guard} My hope and prayer is that in some small way I can shine the light of Christ in my smile. Maybe. Just maybe a smile can open their heart. Over the years, I have just dealt with my insecurities and at least come to terms with some of them. I've learned to smile anyway and ignore the imperfections; however, it's always been at the back of my mind. something to deal with later. there's that word again. later. I've spent too much of my life saying later. There are more medical-related complications behind my desire to fix my teeth that are just a little too confusing for me, but here lies my problem:

Inevitably, I'm getting braces. Going into this process I was quite set on either getting invisalign or the new "behind the teeth" braces, because like I already clearly stated, I am so vain. I care what people think. I care about what I look like. I care about what my smile looks like. I care what I look like in pictures. Well, {unfortunately for my ridiculously vain thoughts) I just don't know what to do. It's slightly {very likely} possible that God wants me to prove that it's not about looks. it's not about what others think. I know He is trying to make a point in my life, and I am struggling against Him tooth and nail. I think He wants me to do the exact thing I don't want to do. Get the regular braces. wow. I think it actually pains me to say that. whew. I wish there was a magic eight ball built into the Bible. I need answers. And clear ones at that. I'm at a loss. Why does God always want to make me a better Christian? Why does He always want me to grow? Sometimes I just don't want to. 

Why am I writing about this? I have no idea. Maybe I'm writing for accountability. advice. suggestions. prayers. I don't know. I just know that when God lays things on my heart, I have a responsibility to share it for even that one person who might need to hear that someone else struggles too. And by struggle, I mean STRUGGLE. When I started this blog, I promised both God and you {those of you who are brave enough to read my crazy thoughts} that I would share from my  heart {the good, the bad, and the ugly}. this is my ugly. I'm vain and forgive me for continuing to use this word over and over again, but there really is no other word to use to describe me.
In these moments, I'm clinging to these verses. Isaiah 43:1-3 "Fear not for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior."

There is far more to the story and weighing on my heart. but I think you got the gist of it. I'm not perfect. Far from it actually. But God continues to whisper these words into my heart, and I can't help but succumb to His words. the redeeming power of his love. He saw me as worthy. worthy of His love. of His forgiveness. of His salvation. of His embrace. worthy of being rescued.

My struggles are real {as real as the keyboard beneath my fingers}. No matter the struggle, I belong to Christ. He calls me by name. I am His. If no one {on this earth}ever looks at me and tells me that I'm worthy, it won't matter. because God loved me first. loved me last. and loved me always.