I started 2016 like someone who walked into a wind-tunnel. I moved out of my dream apartment where I lived and slept alone. I was a happy single thirty-something. I took “instagrammies” of all my perfectly curated spaces, special pretty dinner bowls for one (crumbed artichokes with home-made allioli). It was the perfect space to hide my flaws and embellish my life as I celebrated conflict-free independence. Now, at the bookend of the year, after 11 months with four early-twenty-something extroverts, I have fewer crockery, my special spatula has been lost on a mission somewhere but I am also engaged and have made the first sensible career move of my life.

The problem with independence is that its such a convenience to be able to shut the door on your bad days, your period pain days, your anti-fungal footcream, the spots on your left butt-cheek and your not-so-feminine hairiness, but what good is an escape if it means your adversary is still there waiting for you outside. I started the year on anti-depressants after a visit to the doctor for burn-out and made quick enemies in the house. It took a while for me to stop being a selfish control-freak. I think I’m still not righteous, but I am grateful for what I have gained this past year. I am grateful for the loving grace of my housemates. I am grateful for being teased and challenged. I am grateful for the space of preparation it was for me to fall in love with my now fiancee.

New relationships bring with it all the joy epitomised in couple selfies, but again it brought with it challenges to my constant vigilance for independence. Even more so now that I am engaged! I am so confronted with my flaws. So much so that I have flatly refused to let my fiancee see my feet. Such ridiculous measures to keep my flaws hidden. My excuse? “I don’t like them”. To which my very wise future husband replied that we don’t get to choose what we like and what we don’t like about our bodies, that it’s like choosing to love one child over another. Although I think his argument is extreme (I am quite obstinate, in his defence) there is certainly truth in it. Some flaws can be worked on, I’m not saying we should opt for entropy, but our bodies, our histories and our circumstances are often what God has given us according to His good pleasure. So too, our perceived flaws.

In my case, learning to embrace the feet, these legs, my unsuitably-sized chest… things God has created me with. In this season perhaps to learn to stop desiring the world’s standards, but instead to look to God’s standards of inner beauty, godly character, humility and love. The things that last when the body dies. The legacy I will leave behind. The effect my life will have on those around me that will by far outlive whether I give myself “flawlessly” to my husband when we get married.

For now the fruit of my flaw-fixation serves only to separate me from others, and so, this morning I rubbed up my feet with oils and spoke over them, “Beautiful are the feet of him who brings good news. Beautiful was Jesus’ feet because of how they served, not because of how they looked.”

Has my fiancee seen my feet yet? No. Will I keep avoiding those infernal Christian foot washing rituals? Probably. But I am working towards swimming with him at the beach this summer with my bare-naked toes…and enjoying the fact that I am completely accepted. Just as I am.