Photos C/O: Rachael Kincaid
I’ve always been small. I’m shorter than most of my friends and have had long hair for most of my life. My face is covered in a faint smattering of freckles, and I’m usually described as cute.
I used to hate it. I wanted to be pretty, striking or hot. Nowadays, I tolerate it. There are worse things than being thirty and cute, right?
But here’s the thing – I’m starting to feel beautiful. This might be the most beautiful season I’ve ever experienced as a woman. I’m not talking about just my looks., because most days, I don’t feel as attractive as I did before four kids came out of my body.
So what’s changed over the last few years? I’ve cultivated influence. I’ve married, acquired stepsons and had children. I’ve built a ministry. I’ve invested in solid, ride-or-die friendships and built relationships with the next generation. I’ve made it my mission to dig deeply into my community. I’ve committed to a new level of vulnerability with the people I call home, to allow them to bring out the best in me and point me to Jesus.
These days, people are looking at me. Like, really looking at me –not judging or whispering as I walk by their lunch table. They’re asking how my heart is. They’re digging beneath the surface of small talk. And they’re asking me to look at them, and pour into them.
My family looks to me for wisdom, advice, and a soft place to land when they fail. My friends don’t hesitate to serve me with feedback, encouragement, love, affection, and correction. The teenage girls I lead value my opinions on their eyebrows, personal style, and how far they decide to go with their boyfriends. On any given day, people all over the world might read my blog or scroll through my Instagram feed and make a split-second decision about Jesus, just from peeking through my lens.
None of these groups are mind-blowing in number. I’m not talking about big stats and monster platforms. This is real life. Family, friends, the folks I bump into on the Internet.
But here’s what those groups have in common — me.
In some shape or form, I come into contact with all of these people. I touch them. They touch me. And it’s my choice whether or not to lean in, and be careful with their hearts in the process. It’s my choice whether or not to acknowledge the gift I’ve been given with them… my influence.
Strange as it sounds, once I began to feel the weight of the influence I carry, I began to see the beauty in it. Influence is beautiful. Sacred. As I brushed up against the idea that I could take hold of my influence and use it for good, I began to feel more beautiful. For the first time in my life, I could see clearly what my purpose is: to love God and love people. That’s all I ever have to do in this life.
Influence is freedom, and it is beautiful. It’s holy work, and I’m honored to do it.
Accepting responsibility for my influence made me care more about beauty than ever before, but in a healthy way. I started working out regularly — not to get skinny, but to take care of my temple. I actually don’t have time to feel insecure or negative about my body because I’m doing holy work.
So now I put in a few hours a week at the gym and try to watch what I feed myself. I pay more attention to my wardrobe. Not because I want approval from people, but because I know that teenage girls are watching me. I care deeply that they grow up to believe that God’s definition of femininity and sexuality exists to give them the best life possible.
I believe that Jesus is big enough to bring things full circle. He’s kind enough to use our unique personalities in ways that teach us things about Him. I may forever be short and cute, but I’m beautiful because He’s asked me to use my influence over the small tribe He’s given me, and equipped me in all the right ways to do it.