by Kassi Evans
What is beauty anyway? So many people seem to have contradicting views. Is it determined on size, height, shape or color? If beauty is so relative, then what IS IT really?
Growing up, lies like, “What if the fullness of my beauty falls short? What if what I have to offer is not good enough?” chipped away at my view of my own worth, causing me torment for far too long. Over time I became more and more self-conscious in revealing my beauty. I LOVED fashion, but after some time, I started feeling shame and insecurity any time I wore a dress as if I had no real beauty to offer. It was like beauty didn’t even belong to me. I got to the point where as much as I loved dresses and cute shoes, I never felt “safe” wearing them. I developed a belief that it was better for me to keep my beauty a mystery than to find out it wasn’t enough.
“Not enough”… Such ugly words that most of us struggle with.
And yet, it was this very fear that gave me a false sense of safety.
I was about 17 when I was branded with the phrase “#MeToo.” With the gift of influence and charm, he was able to manipulate many women into giving him what he wanted. I knew this about him, even warned other girls to be careful around him, even though he was my best friend… or so I thought.
For two years I suffered a slow and steady burn towards my value. Numbing me into toleration of verbal abuse, over time developing into physical abuse eventually leading me to being blindsided by sexual abuse. I remember feeling so confused that it took a while for me to even realize that abuse had become a part of my new reality.
Carrying the weight of many horrible threats, God gave me the courage to fully break free of all connection with him! After completely cutting him out of my life, I remember gathering all of the gifts he had ever given me, from biggest to the smallest, and putting them in a box to destroy. But when it came down to it, I just couldn’t do it! That box sat in the trunk of my car for what felt like forever. Everyday I would ask myself, “Are you finally ready?” but with knots in my stomach and tears in my eyes I would respond with, “Maybe tomorrow.”
I understand how crazy it may seem to want to hold onto those things, but when in such darkness, holding on can feel like the only source of hope that maybe you’re actually worth something. It’s in moments like that, one realizes that it’s not pain that is the hardest thing to trust God to heal, but our twisted perception of what is “good.”
After some time of dealing with this inner tug-of-war, I was at a women’s conference and the preacher quoted from Isaiah 61:3, “… He will give a crown of beauty for ashes”. In that moment, I heard the voice of God, so clearly without rhyme or riddle, saying –
“Kassi, how do you make ashes?”
“By burning something.”
“Exactly. It’s time.”
That very night, I drove to a specific spot that haunted me SO deeply that for the longest time I would drive alternative routes just to avoid it. I got out of my car, grabbed the box out of the trunk, and prayed this simple prayer, “God, I give you my ashes.” And then you KNOW I lit that box on fire!
I can’t even begin to explain how THICK and TANGIBLE the presence of the Holy Spirit was! As the flames rose higher, I was flooded with FREEDOM and a JOY that I had NEVER felt before!
So what IS this mystery we call “BEAUTY”?
After facing the hard realization that hiding behind the lie that I was “not enough” couldn’t save me, I asked Jesus to speak into my shame and listened as He spoke into my value, revealing why I was desperately in need of His protection. This gave me the freedom to fully forgive and rest in the truth that no matter how broken I felt, I was made in the image of Beauty Himself. Therefore I just AM.
And there it is, in all its simplicity. Beauty is not determined by the advantages or limitations of your body. It is not something that can be made or stolen; but only discovered by a CHOICE – “Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” (Psalm 34:5)
I AM beauty and so are you.