Hi, Friend! On this journey of finding our beautiful, I thought it was important to gain perspective from others who were struggling with their own haunting thoughts of beauty. Today’s guest post is by Sarah Jo Burch. She is a twenty-something mama and writer who definitely identifies with the struggle for beauty and what it all means. And, yes, it’s not just the forty-somethings that have a tough time with the concept of beauty. This topic touches us all regardless of our ages and jean sizes.
Please give Sarah Jo a warm welcome as she joins me on my “doorstep” to talk about her struggle with beauty and how she’s dealing with it.
I love the color orange – so bold and confident, a brilliant aspect of sunrises and sunsets and tropical thoughts. I also love the color blue – as a semi-ridiculous collection of scarves, ranging from turquoise to aqua, can attest. But most of all, I love the color green. Moss and earth, lime and chartreuse – it’s a known obsession that even passing acquaintances are aware of.
So why is my closet dominated by black, grey, and a little bit of denimy-indigo blue? I used to have a broad swath of green (yes, my closet is organized by color) but over the past few years my favorite colors have been relegated a diminishing corner, mostly comprised of accessories that I never wear. Slowly, unconsciously, I’ve been attempting to disappear.
I didn’t really struggle with body-image issues as a teen – the insidious belief that there’s something wrong with me is one that crept into my adult psyche. I was confident and not really susceptible to peer pressure, disregarding trends and opinions… until I drifted into wholly unfamiliar waters: motherhood. Since being a mom isn’t something that I ever fantasized about, I was (and am, if I’m being honest) extremely insecure. And that opened me up to the negative comments of others – both the ones directed directly at me, and the posts and articles that friends shared on social media. Mamas can be an extremely critical crew, and as I muddled along as best I could I grew increasingly assured that I was muddling all wrong, and grew quieter and quieter (in word, action, and choice of outfit) in an attempt to avoid attention. Why draw attention to something that’s not worth looking at? became an overriding principle, without me even realizing that it was.
It became difficult for me to write anything that wasn’t cheerily house-wife-y, home crafts and recipes interspersed with photos of my adorable children – I think it’s great that there are ladies who write like that, genuinely, but for me it was just a false front, hiding an increasing sense of feeling overwhelmed. I also stopped knitting. Knitting is more than a hobby to me – after I graduated from high school I got a job at yarn store, followed by an internship with a designer and a summer job with a knitting magazine, and began writing my own patterns. Hats and scarves to frame the face, and skirts that celebrate the swing of feminine hips are my favorite – but the willow green linen skirt I started for myself two summers ago had been relegated to a basket, set on a dusty shelf as I swathed myself in drabber shades.
As couple of weeks ago, the phrase beautiful dwelling impressed itself on me. I turned it over in my mind, initially wondering if it was a verb or a noun, before realizing that it could be both. I could dwell beautifully – making our home a sanctuary by keeping it tidy and candle-lit, covered in prayer and grace and laughter. And I could be a beautiful dwelling – pursuing the gifts God has given me and adding to the beauty of my own little Kingdom-corner, while embracing and accepting the Spirit’s guidance and encouragement from within; a sentient temple.
Learning how to dwell beautifully while also practicing being a beautiful dwelling is definitely a journey. I started by getting that willow green skirt back out, praying over the stitches in the moments when afternoon naps overlap – praying grace for myself as I slowly learn to listen solely to the opinion of the only One who matters, the only One who truly knows me because He made me, and seeking to give that same grace to those I come into contact with.
Sarah Jo Burch lives in the South and is rediscovering her sense of adventure with her handsome and hardworking husband and two-under-2. She blogs (usually over a cup of tea) about beauty, the everyday life of a wife and mum, loving her neighbors, gratitude, and knitting – with pictures between. You’ll find her writing at Paper-Bark Burch, posting between dishes and rescuing adventuresome tinies, and on Instagram as SarahJoKnits.