Lauren

What made you want to be a part of the #ReclaimBeauty project?
"I have been seeking the truth about myself.  This year has been devastating on myself and my family.  I spent a large portion of the year absent from my husband and my children looking for a reality that didn't exist.  It was incredibly destructive and left me, and my family shattered.  Through countless hours of prayer and support from family and friends I can stand here today committed to rebuilding myself and marriage, my family, and my life. The #ReclaimBeauty project came at the perfect timing and I couldn't wait to start my journey. Who was I created to be? Despite the destruction of this year, do I deserve to be beautiful? Will I ever see myself the way God sees me?"

How has the cultural perception of beauty influenced how you see yourself?
"Throughout my 30 years of life I have encountered several relationships that have included mental, emotional, and sexual abuse.  For years I didn't believe I was allowed to express myself or have my own opinions. My self worth was determined by actions and what I could do for others.  It consumed the majority of my 20s and hindered the stable, healthy relationships in my life...especially my marriage.  My husband and I spent a significant amount of time sifting through the muck of my past.  Finally, my perspective began shifting and my wounds are beginning to heal.  I thank God daily that He gave me a partner who would have the patience and gentleness to peel away the layers of my brokenness.  He has many times been the difference between life and death, victory and defeat. Though all of my struggles and self-destruction he has loved me and deemed me worthy and beautiful."

What has been the hardest part of going on this journey to uncovering and celebrating your beauty?
"It has been extremely difficult to come to the bottom of myself and realize I am worth more than I think I am worth.  There has been a line drawn in the sand and I've had to choose whether I am going to stand up and see the truth about myself or allow myself to be buried alive in the lies I have chosen to believe...I am not enough...I can't...I'm not...I won't.  But the truth is that my body tells a story.  My stretch marks represent my journey as a mother.  I have carried, cared for, and nurtured my children at the expense of my body.  The callouses on my feet represent the work I do daily caring for others and working long hours to provide for my family.  The bags under my eyes represent the sleepless nights worrying about finances, my job, my children, and anything other than myself.  My extra pounds represent pain, guilt, and shame I have carried about myself and my inability to cope effectively.   The truth is that I can...I have...and I will continue to be enough and that time has arrived that I begin to embrace my beauty, my strength, my power.  Beauty is not just what lies on the outside but is rooted so much deeper."


How do you nurture and celebrate your beauty?
"Everyday is a choice. I don’t always win.  In fact, everyday feels like an uphill battle.  I spend less time looking in the mirror and more time looking at the people in my life that bring me joy (my husband, my children, my family).  It is that true joy that defines my beauty.  Not whether or not I have shaved my legs or combed my hair.  Not whether my shoes match my outfit.  My beauty is defined by how I treat others - by showing love, respect, kindness.  My being honest, genuine, and giving.  But -- when I do look in the mirror and am tempted to feel disgust and remember that my children don't see my stretch marks, callouses, bags, and extra pounds --- they see mom.  My husband doesn't see the scars of the past but the promise of a beautiful future.

I am beautiful."