“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)
Recently I did a quick run-down of “beauty” products in my bathroom to see what needed to be restocked. Now, I’ve got to be honest I am not one who puts a lot of time and effort into her appearance. Don’t get me wrong I like to look nice and dress nice when the occasions arise, but I am one of those gals who can shower and be ready in thirty minutes flat.
My make-up drawer contains about seven or eight products and a handful of brushes to assist me with the application process….although I must admit I’m not sure what some of them are really for.
Anyway, I own a hair dryer, flat iron; curling iron and hot rollers (I think I probably just aged myself with that little confession). I purchase my hair products at Wal-Mart which pretty much consist of shampoo and hair spray. I do enjoy an occasional pedicure when I’m not too embarrassed to let someone else touch my feet and my trips to the beauty salon have become more frequent the further I plunge into my forties.
All of this is to say, as simple as my approach is to this area of my life there is still a list of go-to items I want to have on hand before I venture outside into public view.
Why is that? Where did that thought process come from and when did it begin?
I want to invite you into a conversation a somewhat private conversation, but one I feel we all need to be a part of.
Pull up a chair, grab your favorite drink—make mine a sweet tea please, and settle in.
Conversations are always better when they are shared with others; granted I have been known to carrying on some interesting convo’s with just me, myself, and I, but that is a whole other story.
I have only two requests of you as my guest.
First of all this is a judgement free zone and second it is imperative that you LISTEN with your heart. It tends to be easy for us to hear a little and feel obliged to say a lot.
Today, I want to ask you to try to refrain from that action. I believe it would serve all of us well (myself included) if we would listen more from our hearts and not our minds. So if you are ready I have a feeling things are about to get real.
“What is perfect?” she softly spoke while staring at me from across the small high top table.
Her big brown eyes were begging for an answer, but all the while fearful of what she might hear. Her hands were cupped around her coffee mug as if it were her security blanket. It was almost like she was using it to keep me at a safe distance. How do you answer that question?
I knew exactly what she meant the moment she uttered those words. She had just struck an all too familiar chord in my heart. I knew there was not going to be a quick fix or godly response that would satisfy the deep longing in her soul.
Somewhere between pigtails and proms someone communicated to this beautiful child she was not enough. Not good enough, not pretty enough, not small enough, not tall enough, not smart enough, just not enough.
My heart ached and my stomached churned as she continued. “Every day I get picked apart by someone. Girls at school will sure let you know what’s wrong; they will eat you alive,” she took a quick sip and gently set her latté back down.
“Your hair is too thin, your hair is too curly, your face is break-out city, you can’t play sports, you play sports, you read books, you don’t read books, your parents have money, your parents don’t have money, your car is a piece of junk, your car is too expensive, your clothes are cheap, you buy your clothes where? It never ends…..it just never seems to end; commercials, magazines, movies, social media….there’s no escape.”
I could hear the defeat in her sweet voice. And she was right, I knew she was right. Can you relate? I can. Picked Apart
The world screams at us every day do this, do that; buy this, try that and you will be accepted, liked, and maybe even perfect. Just think about all the advertisements you see daily that want to “help” us lose weight.
It’s crazy!! I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to be in good physical shape and maintain a healthy lifestyle, but it seems we may be bordering on pure madness with this fixation on our outward appearance. Even writing this I’m starting to feel somewhat guilty about the sweet tea setting next to me.
I believe we should take pride in our appearance, but surely to goodness we don’t have to lose ourselves in the process. I mean really who sets the pinnacle?
We all have a desire to be accepted, to fit in, to be liked, to be beautiful; but to what means and measured by whose truth?
If you could see me right now you would see me clapping my hands softly, pleading with you to listen to me–listen to my heart. I make this request because I have been around that mountain more times than I can count and each time it has left me feeling completely drained and frustrated.
This quest for perfection is like getting caught in one of those ridiculous roundabout’s! I mean seriously for the love of biscuits & gravy just put up a stop sign already. I understand a stop sign. It’s not a suggestion it means what it says STOP, it is a traffic truth.
Same holds true for who we are. There is only one truth we can be measured by and it does not include how many “friends” we have on Facebook or the number of followers we have on Instagram or Twitter, how many likes we get on a post or the positive/negative comments left on our pages.
I know this is the world in which we live; but the constant contact, the immediate reaction; the continuous updating has warped our reality, especially our spiritual reality. This false sense of acceptance leaves us craving for likes from people we don’t know and scoffing at face to face encouragement from people who genuinely care.
In Genesis 1: 27 we find the first reference to who we have been created to be and this dear children is the truth which we are all measured by. “So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them.” (NIV) TRUTH.
That is our measuring stick and it’s not my truth, your truth, or their truth. It’s not his version, her version or my version. There is only one truth and that is God the Father and there is only one place to find that truth in His Word. I have been praying for days asking God over and over, how am I going to write this post about self-image when I have the same struggle and His response was the same every time. Tell them the truth, My truth.
We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)
God looks at our hearts not our outward appearance (1 Samuel 16:7)
Beauty is fleeting but fear of the Lord is to be praised (Proverbs 31:30)
We are God’s handiwork (Ephesians 2:10)
Breathe in the sweet fragrance of those verses. I believe we all could use more of this truth channeled into our souls every day.
These are only a few of God’s truths about self-image, but stay right here with me for a little while longer. God loves us so much and cares so deeply for us that He created us in His image. You don’t look like me, I don’t look like you.
Because God doesn’t want to make carbon copies He creates stunning originals.
When you look in the mirror what do you see? Do you pick yourself apart? God doesn’t want that, He wants us to see Him. He put us together piece by piece, muscle to muscle, bone upon bone, and then wrapped us in an outer layer designed specifically for each of us. No other part of God’s creation holds that honor.
Let that sink in…. only you and I have been made in His image. Please oh please stop looking at what you see as flaws or what someone else points out to be flaws. That is not the measure God wants us to live by, that is not truth and if it is not truth my friend than it is a lie straight from the enemy. Our Heavenly Father has a plan and purpose for every part of your life inside and out. You are God’s priceless treasure created in His image and you are exquisite. Put Together
I took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. We had hit a crucial point in the conversation where we were no longer aware of our surroundings and the silence between us seemed to being pushing me further away.
So, with a quick “help me Lord Jesus,” I casually stood up and pulled my stool closer to her side. She sat up a little taller and quickly drew back away from her cup as if to say that’s close enough. I gave her a soft smile to acknowledge her boundaries, but something told me she was longing for a touch of acceptance.
Gazing into her eyes I said, “Close your eyes and shut everything else out,” the look she gave me almost made me laugh out loud. “Go on, close your eyes and listen to only my voice.”
With a little reluctance and a slight rise of an eyebrow she obeyed my coaching. “I love you,” I whispered.
“I love who God has created you to be,” and with that I noticed a tear ever so gently trickle down this remarkable child’s cheek.
She slowly opened her eyes and with that the “not enough” wall started to come down. I cautiously raised my hands and cupped them gently under her delicate little face. Wanting to look deep into her eyes, I lifted her chin slightly and repeated myself.
“I love you and I love who God has created you to be, but you know what? He loves you so much more than I do, so much more than anyone ever will. When you hurt, He feels it. When you cry He collects your tears* and when you struggle He wants to be your comfort. You are precious in His sight…..so much so He has your name engraved on the palms of His Hands**.” Pull Up
I don’t know where you are in this conversation. Maybe, you are struggling with self-image and questioning what defines perfect, PICKED APART. Maybe, you are someone who is searching for truth and tired of being on the roundabout, PUT TOGETHER; or maybe you are trying to help someone see their value is internal not external, PULL UP.
You see it is you I am speaking to.
It is your face I am holding.
It is your heart I am connecting with. It is your eyes I am gazing into.
We all face the battle of acceptance of self and we need to raise our hands bravely and say, “ME TOO!” Suffering in silence only compounds the hurt; I should know I’ve tried it. I want you to know you are not alone, the struggle is real; but the older I get the more I realize each of us must come to the place of wanting to accept God’s truth and love over the enemy’s lies and deceit.
I pray God’s loving arms will wrap around you today drawing you ever so close into His embrace; and above all I pray you will see yourself through the eyes of our Heavenly Father, for it is there you are defined, it is there you are fully accepted.
*Psalm 56:8 (NIV)
**Isaiah 49:16 (NIV)
I hope these words met you at your deepest need!