The problem with being a writer is that moments of inspiration come at beautifully inconvenient times. Like right now.
It's 8am in the middle of the week. i'm listening to great music and sitting in a coffee shop by the window and the sun is shining in a delicately perfect way. This room smells like pan dulce, which makes me think of the days i spent walking the streets of Guatemala. My coffee is too hot to drink and the test i'm supposed to be studying for is too soon. However i will continue in my never-failing pattern of being a poor student and take this lighting and that smell for what it's worth. This moment is too beautiful to spend it studying.
As i look down, the sun is catching the loose pieces of my hair against my black shirt. The second day curls are doing what they want, as they have since i was a child. i remember being really upset as a kid that i couldn't have board straight hair like the rest of my friends. i used to brush it to fight my curls and there was even a period of time where i wore it up everyday. Come high school, i had stopped brushing it and found the right product and allowed it to be curly-- but i still hated it. i never saw myself as the "same kind of pretty" as the rest of my friends. i never had that effortless, clean look because of the one million fly-aways that circled my face. i've spent a lot of my life having people tell me that they envy my hair, but i've spent a larger part of it fighting to love these crazy locks that my Creator put on my head.
A few months ago, i wrote about my battle with self worth that i walked through last spring. That season was rough, but i remember a few minutes after the Lord broke those chains and breathed truth into my heart, i knew that it would be something that haunted me for a while to come. Don't misunderstand, please-- i was not underestimating the power of God to heal my mind and heart towards myself. In fact, i knew (and still know) that it is His healing power that will be the only thing to save me from myself. It is by His grace alone that i am able to look at myself, both on the inside and outside, and even kind of like who i am.
i recently promised myself that i was going to be honest in my writing-- no more sugar coating or surface level explanations. The Lord designed me with honesty in my bones and hiding that is disregarding part of myself. So know that what i'm writing is truth from my heart, even if it isn't pretty or perfect or anything of the sort.
i'm 20 years old and i have the same struggles with my hair now that i did ten years ago. Thankfully i no longer fight these thoughts with a flat-iron, water (i was a kid and i knew nothing), or slick-backed pony tails. As anyone has, i've come a long way since the awkward years, but my hair is still big and it's hard to love sometimes.
Last year, my biggest struggle was believing that i am who the Lord says i am. i was (pridefully) convinced that He meant what He said about everyone else, but on November 21st, 1994 He made a mistake and i fell through the cracks. i was not worthy or able or loved or cherished or chosen in the way that my friends were or that stranger is. i considered myself an ugly fluke in the midst of creation.
A year later, i am beautifully confident that i am not an ugly fluke. i have a lot of days where it's hard to know that as truth, but it is sweet to be able to say that my heart rarely doesn't believe it.
However, that didn't stop me from looking at myself in the mirror yesterday and almost bursting into tears over what i saw. Honestly friends, i'm still confused about it. i don't understand why i stood in front of that mirror looking myself up and down, specifically at my clean, huge, curly hair, and hated what i saw. My thoughts of self-hatred were closely followed with, "Ashton! What the heck? You worked so hard to love yourself! What are you doing?" But the feelings didn't pass. The weight of the enemy's attempt to break my confidence was carried through and through and even now it's hard to shake.
The truth about self love is that it's hard. For me, it is not by my own strength or even my own eyes that will allow me to love who i am. i long to live fully embracing the person that i am, and i am confident that i will one day, but right now i am in a place where i am having my Heavenly Father teach my how to walk. He is holding my hands and guiding me and as a twenty year old, i feel silly, but it feels right.
When the Father made me, He didn't create me to listen to the opinions of others and to spend my days comparing myself to them. He made me to be Ashton. When i walk through life telling myself that who i want to be "isn't okay" i'm making the idea of loving myself that much more foreign. Why do we tell ourselves that it's not okay to like who we are? It isn't prideful to have confidence in yourself (it can become that way, but that's not the point today). The truth is that i think i've been trying to make myself be someone else rather than letting myself be who i am, which makes it so much harder to love my true self. When i wear all black five days in a row and my hair is in a top-knot three days out of the week, it's okay because i feel like myself in all black with my hair up. If i try and make myself wear red and pink and let my hair be huge and crazy, i'm going to be uncomfortable because that isn't me. Embracing who we are allows our heart and mind to love ourselves proudly and think of ourselves sweetly.
Sitting here, i like the way my hair looks today. i like that i wear my black jeans more than my denim ones and i like that i can't remember the last time i wore a color other than black or gray. i am who i am and the Father is slowly and sweetly walking me towards loving that with every part of myself. Yesterday i almost cried looking in the mirror, but today i looked at myself and smiled. Tomorrow, it may be different but i am praying and hoping that i will be able to look in the mirror and find an easily made smile that is accompanied by my hair that i am trying to love more.
Every day is different, but our Father is the same. He doesn't change what He says or thinks about us. Though it's hard to love myself sometimes, that doesn't mean that He loves me any less. He hears my prayers, He knows my heart, and one day i am will be able to confidently say that i love every part of the person that He has made me to be. It is not a matter of if, but a matter of when.