Young Women & Self-Image Part 3: Beauty

 

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“Isn’t it beautiful, Mom?”

I looked down to find my sweet, five-year-old daughter proudly holding up two pieces of oddly cut, glued together pieces of paper. No less than 20 googley eyes were scattered about, and the purple disappearing glue…well, let’s just say the purple only disappears when you use a thin layer. But she was so proud. “It’s lovely!” I exclaimed, “Would you like for me to hang it up?” I asked. “Yes, please,” she beamed. She had created this masterpiece with her own hands and to her, it was absolutely perfect. You see, no one has ever told her that her artwork was not perfect. No one has ever critiqued her creativity, so all that she knew was the beauty of her work coming to fruition.

Our definition of beauty today is so tainted. Our definition of beauty is one of conformity. The sad thing is that one day, my sweet Hannah’s artwork will be critiqued. Someone will tell her that what she made isn’t good enough. That it should be more like everyone else’s artwork. And she will probably listen to them. And her artwork will begin to look more and more like everyone else’s art. While there is some beauty to that in art, there is also a sadness and a loss…a loss of her as an individual and what she was created to bring to the world. We tend to believe that art is only beautiful if it’s similar to something we’ve seen before.

Doesn’t that also remind you of the way we view our own beauty? If we don’t look like (insert celebrity), we don’t see ourselves as beautiful? Why do we do this to ourselves?? Do we not realize how much God put into creating us?

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.

-Psalm 139:13

When I think about God creating me so carefully in my mother’s womb…every last detail with perfect precision…down to the color of my eyes, the prominence of my chin, the birthmark on my shoulder, the slit in my eyelids….why, oh why, am I so critical of His creation?

On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?

-Romans 9:20-21

I don’t believe that God creates any of us to be ugly. I believe that just like my precious Hannah, he views each of his creations as absolutely beautiful. With that in mind, maybe it’s OUR perception of beauty that is the problem, rather than the reality of our bodies.

Whose definition of beauty do you want for your life?

Whose definition of beauty do you want for your life?

So let’s think back for a moment…if you struggle with your perception of your beauty…who told you that you were not beautiful? Either directly or indirectly? Why does this person/people have so much influence in your life that they can convince you that God’s handiwork in your life isn’t good enough?

I’ll never forget the moment…it’s one of those “core memories” that I think will stay with me forever… I had just given birth to my third child, Lydia, and in my opinion, I was at my worst physical appearance. Not only was I heavier than I had ever been before, but I was also wearing sweatshirts and yoga pants on a daily basis, my hair was thrown up most of the time, and I only wore make-up to cover the enormous bags under my eyes from the lack of sleep. I felt so ugly. One evening, I was at church doing my usual thing…watching the kiddos playing outside…when a woman who I viewed as just beautiful came up beside me and we began talking. I can’t remember the conversation exactly, but I remember the phrase that struck me…she said, “Yeah, but you’re just so tall and beautiful, Deana. I’m nothing like you.” I think my jaw hung open for a good 30 seconds. I couldn’t even continue the conversation. Here’s this woman, who I held in my mind as beautiful…telling me that she was insecure, and thought that I was so tall and beautiful. What an epiphany moment for me.

That’s the moment that I realized that we ALL struggle with this. We ALL think someone else is better, prettier, cuter…and you know what it is? It’s just a way to take our eyes off of our real mission, which is glorifying God. This is the big roadblock that Satan sets in front of women of all ages to keep us from building meaningful relationships with each other that lead to sharing the gospel.  

So it really boils down to this: whose definition of beauty do you want for your life? God’s definition or the world’s? If you want God’s definition, you’ll experience freedom in this area. If you want the world’s definition, you’ll forever live in bondage to others’ perception of you.

God created you with HIS OWN HANDS. He knitted you together HIMSELF. There is no one else in this world that is exactly like you. THAT, my friends, is beauty, and guess what? You have it.

This is Part 3 in a series on Self-Image.  To see the first two posts, click the links below:

Part 1: Perfection

Part 2: Acceptance

I hope you will join me later this week for part four.

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