Dear Girls of Grace,
When you think of your own appearance, what are the first three words that come to mind? What is the first thing you notice when you look at yourself in the mirror?
For many of us, a typical day might go something like this… (I use the name Amber as an example, not referring to any specific person!)
The first thing Amber does when she wakes up in the morning is to look in the mirror at her reflection. She notices the lumps and bumps in places where they shouldn’t be, the splotchy skin, the dull hair and the cellulite. Every time she is reminded of these physical flaws Amber feels disheartened.
When Amber goes out, she finds herself comparing her own appearance to other girls around her. She notices one girl with an enviable figure, another with silky long hair and yet another with perfect skin and a lovely smile. She immediately feels inadequate and jealousy rises up within her. Her discontentment often leads her to feel unhappy…
Can you resonate with Amber? Is there anything about her story that reminds you of your own? I would be surprised (and incredibly happy for you!) if your answer to this question is no. We girls seem to have it in our nature to be unhappy with our own appearance and jealous of each other’s. It’s one aspect of our lives in which we can never seem to find contentment…
Being a Christian girl in a society that is so strongly focused on outward beauty is hard, and it’s incredibly challenging to not get swept up in ‘wordly’ ways of thinking. We all want to be beautiful and deep down many of us believe that if we were just that little bit more attractive we would be more lovable, accepted and just generally happier. We are often willing to work very hard to achieve the look we desire so badly; restrictive diets, excessive exercising, always needing to wear the latest fashion, wearing a lot of make-up… sound familiar?
Our negative thoughts and feelings about our appearance can become so frequent that they start to seem normal, but let me tell you that this is not how God intended it to be! Let me remind you of something very important, something that happened quite a long time ago and that should be the basis of every thought you have about the way you look: God created you in HIS image (Genesis 1:27). Do you know what God sees when He looks at you? He sees a creature He designed intricately and uniquely, with care, love and for a very specific purpose. When God looks at you, He sees a reflection of Himself! And that is exactly what our task is here on this earth, to be a living reflection of who God is (Ephesians 5:1). That means that we should be striving for a very different kind of beauty than the one I’ve been describing. The true beauty we should long for is not outward beauty that attracts other people to us, but inward beauty that attracts other people to God!
Inward beauty is shown through kindness, generosity, humbleness, a loving heart, peace, faithfulness, wisdom, patience, joy etc. These are the attributes that God (and other people) look for in you. God has given some of them to you as part of your personality and others may require a little more work with the help of the Holy Spirit. They make you a beautiful person, and they have far more meaning to our lives as Christian women than any physical attribute we may desire to have.
When we strive for outward beauty, we never find true happiness and fulfilment. There will always be something about our appearance that we’re not happy with, or someone who is more beautiful than us, and society’s ever changing and highly demanding standards can just never be met. At the end of the day we will find ourselves worn out and empty. Instead of striving to be loved by people, we can be assured that God’s love comes at no cost to us.
God loves you exactly how you are, and if He, the Almighty Creator of the entire Universe can do so, then what excuse do you have not to?! One of my favourite passages from scripture comes from Psalm 139:13-14. These verses perfectly sum up the message I want to share with you through this blogpost: “For you formed my inward parts; you covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvellous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.”
I encourage you all to pray yourself and for each other. Pray that God will help you to see yourself in the way that He sees you! Pray for peace and contentment. It is not until you realise that you are exactly how God wants you to be, that you can begin to live a life that radiates inward beauty.
So next time you look in the mirror I hope the three words that come to mind are very different… I hope that you remember your Creator, and that you are a reflection of His image.
Loved, Worthy, Beautiful.