I am uncertain now where it all began but I am sure it had something to do with always trying to portray a certain image to the outside world - just another way of covering up the hurt, pain and insecurity that I felt inside.
Even as a teenager, I would spend hours in the bathroom getting myself ready just to go shopping with my parents. I guess I thought if I worked really hard on the outside, it would somehow begin to work on the inside.
As an adult, this behavior continued and even enhanced as I became further involved into pageantry. The pageant world was always about the outside shell - the hair, the make-up, the wardrobe - so I felt a distinct need to keep up with the beauty that surrounded me.
I would not leave the house without making sure that my hair was exactly in place and my make-up was pageant ready - even if I was just going to the grocery store. I had an image to maintain. Of course, it was an image created in my own mind that didn't really matter to anyone else but it was my reality at the time and I needed to maintain it.
If we had a family dinner or reunion, the hours spent in front of the mirror became exhausting. I had to create this outside appearance that I had it all together - when the truth was I most certainly did not.
In spite of this need to look good, I was also extremely compassionate to those in need. I have always been active in my community and I believe we should teach our children the importance of volunteer work and helping others.
So even when my kids were toddlers, I got them involved in charity work starting with something simple like purchasing Christmas presents for children in need. As they got older, they volunteered with me at the local Thanksgiving Day Free dinner at our church and helping in the local toy drive.
Now one would think that helping serve dinner on Thanksgiving Day would not be an occasion to wear make-up or fix your hair or even think through what outfit you would wear. One would think that anyway. Not the case with me.
Nope. I still woke up early and changed clothes four times before I decided what to wear (after all, what if the newspaper was there)? Then I curled my hair and put on full make-up (I had decided to wear jeans but they were cute jeans with a certain style and flair).
Year after year, as we delivered toys to children's houses and served those in need at the holiday dinners, I always felt the need to look my best.
Looking back now I wonder why I was really volunteering? Was it truly to help those in need or was I just trying to boost my own ego? You know "look at me" Little Miss Volunteer Lady. I'm such a good person.
You see, I was such an insecure person that I think I needed anything I could find to give me the validity I was searching for. I didn't put the make-up and clothes on to feel superior to those individuals - that was never my thought. I have a true God-given compassion to serve those in need but I never realized that I was one of those people who truly needed saving.
When a homeless shelter opened in our community in 2012, my daughter and I were first on the list to volunteer to help throughout the week. We worked at the front desk answering the phones, checking people in and assisting the residents in need. The shelter was a vision of a beautiful Christian woman who wanted to provide a safe haven for individuals in need while teaching them the love of Christ.
You would think volunteering at a homeless shelter would not be the type of event that you prepare to attend. You would think that but you would be wrong. I made sure my make-up was on; my hair was fixed and I was dressed nice. Again, I never did it with the intention of superiority - it was always about my image and who I needed people to see me to be.
But then, as I became further involved in my recovery from depression, I felt the sweet words of the Holy Spirit:
"People cannot see how far you have come until you let them see where you have been"
You see, as Christians - and especially as Pastors - it is very important that we make sure we are showing our true selves to the outside world. I knew I wanted to help people overcome depression and insecurity but no one was going to listen to me until they knew the truth about who I was.
And who I was - really - wasn't always so pretty. I had never been homeless but there were times when I had to borrow money from my parents just to feed my family. There were other times when my bank account hadn't seen a positive balance in weeks and my credit cards were maxed to the limit.
I didn't have a perfect life and no amount of make-up was going to cover that up.
I needed to stop pretending that I had it all together and start letting people know the real struggles I had faced.
That is partly the reason I started this website and this blog. I promised to always be honest and although sharing those moments can be difficult, it is something I must do.
We need to be honest with one another. Life can be difficult - in fact, life can downright suck sometimes. But there is always hope. And His name is Jesus Christ.
God brought me through the shadows and into the light and He can do the same for you.
Oh, and by the way, the whole thing that prompted this random post? Yesterday I was working from home which usually means no make-up and pajamas all day. It was also our day to volunteer at the homeless shelter.
When it was time to leave, I threw my hair in a ponytail, put on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt and headed out the door - NO MAKE-UP!
And guess what? The world didn't end. The director of the shelter didn't shun me. The residents didn't turn away from me.
I am finally learning to be comfortable in my own skin and share my weaknesses in addition to my strengths.
Now, I have some family holiday dinners coming up - will I go sans the make-up? Probably not.
Baby steps, people. Baby steps........