They Do Exist.

On Feeling Vain About My Mascara And Being The Perfect Christian Woman

Editor’s Note: I believe that when the enemy can’t change our innocent actions, he’ll attempt to convince us our motive is untrue. False guilt keeps many a heart from living out of it’s new goodness. Today’s post is by Samantha Hardcastle. She blogs at The Lady Journal and you can follow her artwork and writings here. – Lauren

Photo by Branden Harvey / / Design by Lauren Dubinsky

I’m so glad that I came across a place where I can allow my raw and broken side to be unveiled.

I’ve struggled hard with perfectionism and trying to be accepted in a world that did not seem to listen—if at all.

Throughout it, I battled beauty, self-worth, despair, loneliness, anxiety and fear; so, pretty much all of the ugly ones. All of my infliction caused me to be too shy to grab a tissue in junior high. It caused me to silence my lips even when I wanted to shout. I’d hide in Wuthering Heights. I’d hide in my worn torn sketch book. The person I was becoming, I slowly began to realize, was not the woman I was made to be.

Then again, what kind of pretty little version of Christ was I supposed to be anyways? One that never sins?

One that never gets angry? One that never glares at another woman for glaring at me? I began to surrender to, but despise, the whispers that told me I had to be a saint to be truly loved.

I felt this constant burden that I had to be an inner nun to be accepted wholly by God and by those around me. I felt ashamed. I felt futile. I felt my heart sting every time I’d apply mascara. Would I really allow myself to be exposed the way I naturally looked in the mornings and be OK with it? My goodness, there are people dying along the dusty trails of third world countries for the sake of Christ – and here I am, pettily applying dark-brown mascara to my eye-lashes. I fell even tinier into my already deflated image of self-worth. Would it ever stop?

I feel angst when anyone says, “Oh, she won’t even go out without make-up,”  so I cover it up with things like, “Hey, I just like to feel ready for the day.” To top it off, I just got out of an English class where a young man beside me wrote about how women shouldn’t wear make-up—and of course, I was the only one out of the two ladies in the group who wore make-up that early morning. Just lovely.

What was so wrong with getting ready and why in the world did I always feel guilty for doing so?

To be honest, I’m just a mere student attending college, getting my degree to hopefully raise money to do things I’d hope to do in the future. My heart has many desires. Yet, I have never been on a mission trip and for some reason that shoves me harder into feeling that I am just a vain woman walking this earth: fellowshipping, blogging, painting, writing, and working. I have hopes of helping worn torn people in places like India, but what was I doing now?

And then I felt God’s gentle press on my soul. A good work is never rushed, he’d whisper. God shows me I’m following the narrow path in the smallest of ways.

I remember when I had just lost my grandmother and I was sitting in my painting class near the window, facing my old ballet slippers that I was trying to sketch to paint. I couldn’t do it, so I got up and went to the bathroom and tears began to ache within my eyes. I brushed up and walked back in and my heart melted at what I saw—my painting professor was sitting in my chair, my sketchpad bent over her lap as the pencil was moving about the page, going over my disfigured attempt. She was sketching it for me because she knew the sorrow I was going through. She even asked about it. During the end of my last fall semester, she was in her office as I swiftly walked by and saw her; I told her I’d be in the studio working on a project for my cousin’s baby shower that weekend. She started to talk to me and ended up saying how she and another professor were talking about my major and work. “We were saying how you’re our best art minor,” she smiled.

I’m not all that great with compliments except saying “aww” and “thank you” in at least three octaves higher than my natural voice—and then to quickly walk off. I don’t think she’ll ever know just how much she’s uplifted my life. She says I paint with a Renaissance style. So, who knows, maybe I really am a lady keeping it classy, while crazy for Christ.

So, in the smallest of ways and somehow even in the most personal of ways, God showed me and told me that he loved me, that he cared for me, that he was proud of me of who I was becoming. He often tells me through my loving family and caring instructors.

I don’t have to feel guilty or allow the world to make me feel awful for getting ready in the mornings; I’ll get ready, sip my vanilla cappuccino and thank God for his patience and grace within me as I embark on the journey of the new day.

I’m sure Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa would’ve enjoyed putting some eye-shadow in her brows, showing her pearly whites and treading the streets of the city. Would it have taken away from her natural disposition, flawlessness and beauty? Absolutely not—paint can’t do that. At the end of the day, when the make-up comes off and she nestles under her blanket, she is still Mona Lisa. I am still me when I wash my face, get my coffee and write under my woolly blanket.

I now think of me this way: I am a canvas.

God is painting me little by little, perfecting my faith season by season. God never rushes on me to work on someone else; He takes his time with each of us. I think when looking at a masterpiece, such as the Mona Lisa, you can talk about it – but there will always be the absence of words that speak the most.

Such as all of us in the end; when God lays down the brushes as he studies our faces and begins to speak. It won’t be what we have to say. It will be the canvas he pulls out from behind him—the one that is full of life, of sorrows, of perseverance, of stumbles, of hope, of strength, of integrity, of faith and of abounding love.

I am now a confident woman in Christ. I am a good woman. I can now call myself an artist. I can sign my name on the bottom of my paintings without feeling guilty for doing so; I have always believed it took away from the mysteries of a telling painting. But, I can do it now. Though I will always be a work in progress, I believe that in the end, when I step up to the canvas God painted of my life, I can tenderly press my fingers onto it and feel God’s fingerprints within the paint; feeling where he smoothed out the many rough seasons of my life with his determined, gentle and loving touch.

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16 Responses

  1. I've been reading GWP for close to a year, and this is the first post that I have ever felt brave enough to comment on. I too have struggled A LOT with comparison, especially in terms of how I live out my life both as a follower of Jesus and a Christian woman. I remember when I was in high school and how badly I wanted to be like some of the other girls in my church and youth group. They had such a heart for God and had no fear in regards to professing or living out their faith. Sometimes I actually hated myself for not having the courage or even the personality to be like that.

    I accepted Christ into my life nearly eight years ago, and now feel like I am just learning what it really means to have a deep and intimate relationship with God. I don't have all the answers, but I've realized that while we as Christians have a lot of the same beliefs, we do not and will not always have the same convictions in regards to living out those beliefs. I've also learned to be opened to hearing what other people have to say if they want to talk to me about something, but to first and foremost pray and talk to God about it before making any kind of drastic change. I could go on, but I'd like to save that for a blog post of my own.

    Thank you so much for your honesty!

    January 1, 2013 at 12:42 pm

  2. Chelsea

    While I agree with most of this post, in the area of God not rushing His work in us, I sometimes feel that it is us that is our hindering our sanctification process which we confuse with God's timing. God gives us the power through His holy spirit to change yet we hardly grasp that. In fact I think that sometimes we give ourselves permission to take as long as is comfortable for us to change, while the motivation for change in our hearts lies within the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. We like to say that it is all in God's timing as to when we change, which I'm not rejecting as in some cases it may be God's timing, but God gives us free will and therein lies the the beautiful fusion of the work of the holy spirit in our hearts to desire to become more like Christ. Therefore the more we reflect on the saving power of the cross, the more we shall desire to change and as we have been given the power to change through the holy spirit, what is holding us back? =) Just throwing it out there!

    P.S. I didn't mean to sound like a brat from this post, so I hope no one is offended by anything I said!

    January 1, 2013 at 5:17 pm

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  4. Meredith

    As I read this, I felt like I was reading my own thoughts and struggles over the past decade– overwhelming feelings of guilt and shame over nothing at all, or about simply enjoying life and pleasure.

    This article helped me feel that I'm not pathetic for struggling with these feelings— or alone.

    January 7, 2013 at 11:56 am

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  6. Sarah

    this is so beautiful and relatable. nearly moved me to tears, thank you for your openness in sharing!

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