Young Women and Self-Image Part 2: Acceptance

“I’m bad and that’s good.

I will never be good and that’s not bad.

There’s no one I’d rather be than me.”

-Wreck-It-Ralph

“Bad Guy Affirmation”

I really loved this moment in Wreck-It-Ralph when Ralph finally said the “Bad Guy Affirmation” and meant it. If you’ve seen the movie, you know that Ralph played the “villain” in the Fix-It-Felix video arcade game. He felt really sad about that most of the time…after all, he was actually a pretty big-hearted teddy bear type who just got the bad end of the deal…but finally, at the end of the movie, he came to this realization that he was who he was made to be….and that’s okay. It didn’t mean that he was worthless or unwanted. He had finally found peace in himself.

Young Women and Self-Image

In my previous post, we talked about how we aren’t perfect. We aren’t good. No good can come from us until we are redeemed by believing in the work of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection and allowing that truth to transform us from the inside out. This is a hard truth for us. It’s uncomfortable. I told you in my last post that in this part, we would be talking about keeping in check the thoughts that plague our minds daily…the thoughts that constantly pop up saying, You aren’t good enough…If you were just a little thinner…If you were just a little more blonde…If you were just….

Like everything else in life, we practice godliness. Notice that I didn’t say practice for perfection…but we do practice these things for growth and maturity in Christ Jesus. I want to make it clear that I’m not presenting these things as a quick “Five Steps to Confidence and You’ll Love Your Body”. Nope, these things take time. Like I said before…it’s a process. But, if you practice these things, you will grow, and you will begin setting your mind more on God and less on your perceived shortcomings. Let’s begin with scripture:

When your mind is set on God, it’s hard to be critical of His creation.

When your mind is set on God, it’s hard to be critical of His creation.

“If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.”

-John 15:19

  1. You are not of this world, so the world will hate you. They will pick you apart. Have you ever noticed that rarely does anyone ever over-criticize a non-Christian celebrity? That’s because those people are of this world, so the world loves them. It seems as though the people who speak out the most against Christianity are the people that the world cheers for the loudest. This is no surprise, by the way. God knew that would happen and he told us that in His word (John 15:19). But as a Christian, you have to remember that this world is not your home. You were chosen out of this world to be different. Your mind is set on eternity (and always remember that this life is a mere speck of time on the timeline of eternity). The world will hate you because of what you stand for, what you believe in, and because of what you have in the Lord (the fruit of the Spirit, Gal 5:22). It won’t always feel good to you, but knowing that truth makes all the difference in being prepared to handle it.

 

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

-Romans 12:2

  1. Do not conform to this world. This is quite possibly the hardest part, because this requires a complete rejection of the world and everything the world stands for. Don’t fall for the world’s definition of beauty. (That’s Part 3!) We are called to be different, to be set apart, to be holy. As we grow in our knowledge and love of the Lord, we are transformed. But if we continue filling our minds with worldly things, it will be difficult for us to truly allow God’s work to be done in our lives. Things like having a bad self-image will tie us down and cause us to take our eyes off of what God wants to do through us. If you look like the world, (i.e. if you look like everyone else around you, including your clothes, your actions, and your speech), you are conforming to the world’s standards, not God’s and you can expect to never be happy with yourself. Pray about how God wants YOU to present yourself. Don’t set your standard by everyone else.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” -Matthew 6:25-26

  1. Practice Contentment. Yeah, you didn’t know that contentment was something else you had to practice huh? We practice the disciplines of godliness, because they don’t come to us naturally. Practice being content with yourself. Practice not worrying about what you will wear. For one week, commit to wearing only two outfits. Simply the practice of not thinking about what you will wear will begin to take your focus off of materialism and on to God’s transforming work on your life. Another great thing to do is every morning when you look in the mirror, say a few nice things about yourself in place of the criticisms you used to say. It might not be easy to find at first, but it will get easier the more you practice it. One of my favorite things to do is to stick post-it notes with scripture on my mirrors. That way, I can think about scripture and work on memorizing scripture while I get ready. When your mind is set on God, it’s hard to be critical of His creation.

4.  Get your mind under control. If you are anything like me, your mind can go from zero to a hundred in 2 seconds flat. You can start with, “What is that on my face?” and within five minutes, you’ve decided that you’re too tall, too big, too clumsy, too frumpy, and too freckly. See how fast your mind can run amuck? But we don’t have to live with an out-of-control mind. We are told to bring our mind into obedience to what GOD says about us.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. -2 Cor 10:5

This was one of the first verses I ever intentionally memorized. I chose this verse because it helped me to train my mind. I realized that I was in control of my mind, not the other way around. It was my job to decide what I would dwell on, and it was my job to stop any thought that set itself up against what the Word of God says about me. So, what do you do when those thoughts come up? Replace them! Stop the bad thought, and replace it with a righteous thought. The Bible says, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on Earth.” (Col. 3:2) So begin to practice being in control of your thoughts.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” -1 Timothy 6:6-7

5.  Accept you for you and celebrate that.

I am reminded of a true story of an amazing missionary, named Amy Carmichael. She spent much of her young life wishing for blue eyes because she thought that her soft, brown eyes were so boring and common. She just knew that she would be prettier with blue eyes, so she prayed one night for blue eyes. She awoke the next morning only to find that her eyes were still brown. What a disappointment! Her mother explained to her that God must have a special purpose for saying “no” to her genuine request for blue eyes. Amy grew up to become a missionary to India. She worked diligently to free little girls from the temple, where they were kept as “sacrifices to the gods”. Horrible things happened to the little girls in the name of their Hindu religion. In order to enter the temple to free the little girls, she needed to look Indian, so she would stain her skin with coffee, and her brown eyes were a perfect fit for her disguise. Blue eyes would never have worked. God had a plan in the way he made Amy, down to the color of her eyes. He made her intentionally, knowing the future He had for her. He made each of us that way too. Our story may not be as clear as Amy’s, but it’s there. That’s why we need to accept our imperfections (as we perceive them) and celebrate how God made us…as individuals for His glory and His purposes.

So in a way, we can be like Wreck-It-Ralph, and take our whole self, and just be exactly who we were created by God to be, funny looking toes, noses and all. I think that we can actually use Wreck-It-Ralph’s mantra ourselves with a few tweaks. In fact, I might just put it on a post-it note for my mirror!

“I’m not perfect and that’s good

I’ll never be perfect and that’s not bad.

There’s no one I’d rather be than me.”

So, today and every day, be who you were made to be, and then be okay with it!

In the next part of our series, I’ll be tackling the topic of beauty.  What does it mean to be beautiful?  How to we define beauty?  I hope you can come back next time.

Click here to read Part 1: Perfection

Click here to read Part 3: Beauty

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