Confessions of an Awkward Turtle

 

(don’t worry, I know this picture needs explanation: I get round to it, I promise)

Hi, I’m Florence and I am socially awkward. That’s how I tend to identify myself. I didn’t always: once upon a time, I actually tried to be cool. As facebook-based trips down memory lane can testify, it did not go well. I ended up being a puppet, doing and saying whatever I thought people wanted, and losing much of my sense of self- and self-worth- along the way. In a funny sort of way, anorexia saved me from feeling the need to try so hard to please other people. Mainly because it was clear that I was hurting those who loved me, and those who I had wanted to impress had run a mile. So, there was a new slate once I came to university: I could be me.

Slightly problematically, ‘me’ proves to often be easily-excitable, too loud, to dance like you just slipped your dad (or, maybe just mine) a couple of ecstasy tablets, and honest to the point of gushing out compliments at a rate of knots until the recipient wants to have me committed and put under a restraining order. Other highlights include accidentally walking into a men’s changing room, spilling food down me on a regular basis, admitting to having bleached my moustache… and the list goes on. Basically, a few hundred years ago, I would have been accused of being a witch.

Part of me is happy to embrace this: if I wasn’t so open, then I certainly wouldn’t be able to blog about mental health. And I recently went to a Christian talk on Depression which made the brilliant point that honesty and being open to talk is the best way we can lift the stigma on mental illness within the Church. And to be honest, if it makes you feel a bit more comfortable with yourself that I am willing to laugh at some of the ridiculous anecdotes that compose my life, then that’s cool too.

But, on the other hand, the picture above (taken for the ‘Why I Need Feminism’ campaign last summer) can probably be read as “I think I’m a failure because of my flat chest. But if I shout about it, if I go on the defensive, if I bring it up first, then you thinking it too can’t hurt me”. If I laugh first, then I can never be laughed at. So if I was brutally honest, what does this picture suggest I want? At best, it suggests that I want a society where physical appearance isn’t the ultimate. At worst, it suggests that I want a post-photoshop body. And perhaps even more serious, Jesus is nowhere in the picture.

Personally, I don’t need feminism: I need to throw myself daily upon God’s mercy.[1]

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Matthew 5:48 “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

If I was a 32-24-32, would I use it for the glory of God? Almost certainly not. If I had an enigmatic charm, never put my foot in my mouth and could actually dance rather than just flail my limbs about, would I give thanks or would I just let my ego expand? The gifts God gives us aren’t those that make us ‘regulation hotties’ or the most popular person in college. They come in all shapes and sizes, because God calls to Himself people with every sort of need and peculiarity. They’re not there to make us look good; they’re there to build up His family. And for as long as I am defining myself as “socially awkward”, deep down, I’m showing ingratitude for the person God made me.

I am called to be godly, not aesthetically divine. And if my model is Jesus, then I can expect some pretty violent social hiccups. He, after all, came to heal, and feed and love, but even before his trial, was mocked, and set up, ridiculed, and doubted. Even one of his best friends pretended not to know him.

My sinfulness is how I am broken, not the fact that I sometimes leave the house with my top on inside out.

Jesus is who will save me, not a plastic surgeon

 

[1] Just to clarify, I do full-heartedly believe in equal rights for men and women, and take a pretty aggressive stance on things like the portrayal of women in the media. It’s just a case of Christ ultimately trumping everything else.

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