As women, what is one of our most frequent ‘fights?’
I would say feeling beautiful, feeling enough, worthy of love and pursuing. (Even more so for a daughter of Christ because everything about the world is contradictory to what our hearts truly long for). Would you agree?
I have fought this fight for a few years now, which you can read a little about here, and here, and here, if you want. But as my husband put it recently, by the grace of God, I’m “in the 12th round, when many are in the 1st round.” It’s not as if it comes easy to me now, but I have been graced with the accurate perspective, a quick sensitivity to my thoughts when they go down a discouraging path, and where to turn when I feel pressured by the world’s standards.
I recently came across a verse that was like Las Vegas neon for this issue, and I’m amazed I haven’t read it before in this context, but it’s powerful and applicable. (Guess that’s why the Bible is referred to as living and active.)
Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. Psalm 34:5
I invite you into my mind when I struggled through beauty and self-image. I was self-absorbed, spending almost every minute judging and critiquing my external shell. My mental and emotional energy was all over the map, heaping guilt and shame, planning my day around exercise and meals, distracted in social settings. I was stuck in a destructive cycle of comparison, discouragement, and perfectionism. Can anyone relate? It’s exhausting.
Now, thanks to the gracious, helpful God of the Universe, I do my best to keep my eyes off of myself. And not just in a self-righteous humility, Christianese “you shouldn’t be vain or selfish” way, but in a “eyes on the glorious, good, beautiful, gracious, holy God makes me radiant, free, strong, content” kind of way.
Even reading a couple verses above this one, Psalm 34:3 says, “My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad.” My soul boasts in the Lord. A God who knew your external features would be exactly like they are. A God who created your nose, eyes, hair, curves, fingers, personality, passions etc, precisely like they are. We boast in and treasure the fact that God didn’t do something wrong. He made no mistake. He intentionally made us with our specific characteristics and qualities. Have you ever had this thought? I should look like, act like, think like, be more like, that. I don’t know about you, but I lived for years with this idea that I had to be more than I was, that I couldn’t rest in the beauty of me.
I was talking about this with J earlier and he brought to light a cool example. Cinderella’s stepsisters. Did anyone see the recent Cinderella movie? (It was fabulous, I highly recommend it.)
They put others down, they criticize, they scrunch up their faces, they wear absurd outfits, and they are plain loud if you ask me. They try so hard to be considered beautiful and desirable that it has a negative effect. Yet Cinderella, in her quiet, kind, humble way, finds joy in her life and later with the prince. Silly example, perhaps, but a helpful mental image, don’t you think?
Looking at God we see and recognize all the amazing qualities about Him, and we realize how small (yet loved and pursued) we are. We see how fantastic and holy and creative He is. With our eyes on Him we are radiant! How amazing is that. Constantly critiquing my body or features or personality, daily comparing myself to other women, even exercising and eating clean until I’m “happy” with my weight — none of these things make me beautiful and complete the way gazing at God does. None of them. We are His; in Him there is no place for shame, perfection, or unhealthy comparison to live. We are radiant beings when we have eyes and adoration for Jesus alone. We take care of ourselves, we enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle, but we don’t have to wrestle or work against crazy expectations. We can rest, we can be present in every moment, we can freely and joyfully cheer on those around us, all the while giving Him all the glory He deserves. This is a game changer, friends!
I want to remind every single woman and girl I meet about this. I ask God even now that the people who read this will allow this truth to dig deep roots inside them.
Much, much love to you, friends!