A year ago, a mutual friend thought it would be a good idea to get Lauren and I together, and boy were they right. Lauren is a kindred, creative spirit, a fellow do-now-think-later heart, and a lover of the simple beauty of nature. A talented artist, her work can be found in the best gift shops and creative venues across the country – and at her Etsy shop. Check out her shop via the previous link, and her journey to find identity in her own words below.
Lauren – Identity – Real Beauty Series
“As a high schooler, anorexia was literally and physically my biggest struggle. There’s so much psychologically tied to that, and the disease developed in me for a lot of reasons. Largely, because I thought (subconsciously) that an external treatment of my body would be a good bandage for deeper emotional wounds. Which as a kid, because of certain experiences I went through, I had a lot of.
At the root, it’s the same reason people turn to all kinds of reckless, self-destructive, behavior – drinking, drugs, sex, toxic relationships, etc. What’s missing is a secure sense of identity beyond the pain we’ve experienced. The pain I experienced at a young age was just life for me back then. I couldn’t see beyond it, and it put me on a rebellious, destructive path. God wasn’t absent, He wasn’t even a possibility. I didn’t believe in anything, my identity didn’t depend on anything. That’s dangerous, not to mention a faulty way to exist.
For years, I worked on self-evolution, self-love, self-acceptance- and all those things do help on a psychological level, of course. I had to change the way I talked to myself, what I thought about myself, what I thought I was capable of; I had to find some sense of purpose that was bigger than my pain.
Something I didn’t begin making really until my early twenties when I was finally well enough to develop and grow into myself, is art. It isn’t something I see as ‘therapy,’ but part of my purpose. I was created to create, as we all were. To bring something into the world that is ours alone. Something that may point to our strength and beauty, but that ultimately points to God. That’s legacy.
For me now, life is less about trying to overcome and battle pain, and more about leaning into redemption. I know that sounds like an abstract way to deal with body-image struggles, but what I mean is that a bigger sense of purpose than self-image really does help us get beyond personal hurt and misconception.
Culture, imagery, and popular social ideas of beauty, shape, and worth – especially worth – are all constructed. They’re not a good standard, so you shouldn’t compound them with your identity. Who you are is not tied up in what the world tells you who are. Our culture is obsessed with temporary things: youth, beauty, external appearance. And, I think age helps us to realize that. But even if you recognize that, which most people do, you still need a safer place to find your worth, and I think that’s where the higher struggle comes in.
What is the answer?
The world and the culture can’t offer it to you any more than your thoughts about yourself can, and I would have told my younger self to find my security in Christ alone: seek Him first, be of beautiful character, and a real, unalterable beauty will flow naturally from there. We all struggle with this stuff at various times, but an identity beyond the physical can certainly help keep us grounded and free.
All that said, I don’t think anyone (maybe especially women) can live in this world and not feel some occasional shortcoming when they compare themselves to the cultural standard. To put it as literally as possible, I’m honestly really, really intentional about what I look at.
I follow Instagram accounts, for example, that feature art, nature, adventure photography, things like that; it sounds so silly but I think of it like I like to keep loveliness around me. Nothing that fuels negative, comparative emotions. Nothing ‘distracting’ from my main focus. Fixing my eyes on purifying imagery is a little thing that produces good fruit.
There’s always talk about changing something we don’t like about ourselves- new standards of beauty are always emerging and so we chase those, rather than focusing on what’s unique and eternal about ourselves. I wish we’d remind each other of that kind of beauty more often.
For me, continuously drawing my worth from God’s standard is also huge: if you focus on who you are internally, your character, your Christlike-ness; if you find your ultimate identity here and are diligent about that, there’s no time or point in being confused or brought down by who society says you should be. It’s kind of like choosing to fight the right battle. There are all sorts of stimuli pulling for your attention every single day- give energy only to the ones that integrate and build who you are.”
Lauren’s Instagram Suggestions
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