That’s what I said to people when they asked why I wore pants often. It hasn’t been since the second grade. Maybe from the sixth grade until I was a sophomore in college. Either way, that’s still a long time.
I remember the seed for my protest of pants life so clearly. I was in the second grade. The day was about over, so the teacher let us talk to each other. One girl came up to me while I was talking, stopped me mid-sentence to point at my leg and say, “Your leg is gross.” I looked at my leg then at her and said nothing. I earned my scar. I survived biking down one of the most vicious hills in my neighborhood. Most kids ended up with busted chins and rough knees and elbows. I had only a scar going down one of my shins.
Being in the second grade, I took her sentence and ran with it. Although I didn’t verbally give much time or effort to what she said, I did mentally. I became heavily conscious about what people said when they spoke about blemishes on my body.
“You’re gonna mess up your skin because of all that rough housing.”
“Your legs are gonna be covered in scars soon.”
“Your leg looks gross.”
“Everyday you have something new on you.”
They never commented on the scars alone but the whole entire body part. As if it was a crime to show you fell down.
I always played hard as a kid, but by the time I was in the 6th grade, I hesitated. I second guessed every route. In seconds, I was able to analyze all possible outcomes. I started taking the road easily mastered–the road that led to minimum blemishes. I also, despite my inner protests, wore pants and long sleeves every day. Now, it would be an exaggeration to say that the one little girl in my second grade class altered how I saw myself, but when you tack that on to every comment after that, there was little wiggle room to be myself.
There was always a reason to cover up: the dog scratched me, I gained weight, I didn’t want to get darker in the sun, I lost weight, there could be sweat stains. So much disdain grew out from every body part. I learned to hate myself and the roads I took because I thought everyone else did.
By college, I was exhausted and hot. Having covered up for years in the Georgia heat was unbearable and unnecessary. I broke out the shorts, tank tops, and skirts. I finally let the breeze in and my personality out. I basked in the Sun. I hiked and rough housed and didn’t think twice about getting hurt. I moved forward without hesitation.
All of this to say that I understand now how people pick and poke at the end result of something they don’t understand. It may not be pretty and put together to them, so they reject it. My battle wounds show that I not only survived but also thrived in environments that did everything to take me down.
Sure, superficially this is about body image, but this is definitely about Christ. I still wasn’t all together good with Papa by my sophomore year. We knew each other, and we spoke often, but we lacked a relationship. It wasn’t until last year that I found out truly who He is all about. I can let people pick at part of my picture and say it’s gross, but it’s my responsibility to know who I am. I am more than an conqueror. That isn’t just a saying. That’s me not taking detours for an easier, less scary route. That’s me not getting lost in the reactions people have to my journey. That’s me acknowledging that when I came out of the thickets, I only had a scar while others lost their life.
I could go through my time here covered up and safe, never pushing myself too hard or too far, but why? The beauty about a scar is that it will fade. The testimony will always be there, but the result won’t be, so if I brush it off, I miss an opportunity to share wisdom. I miss an opportunity to connect with someone about what God has brought me through, and that in itself is the biggest loss. If I refuse to talk about the Creator who got me through, then I’ve lost the whole point of the story.
“I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths, from the realm of the dead.”
Psalm 86:12-13 NIV
Most times, praise comes in the form of proclamation, but sometimes, it comes in a simple whisper that says, “I have overcome because He did.”