Our society has become hyper-sexualized and based off of instant gratification. From a young age women are taught that if they don’t have double-Ds, a perfectly slim figure and long legs, then they aren’t beautiful. In a secular world being pretty is what will make a man stick around, make you more likely to get the job, or make people want to be your friend. Here’s a reminder that in this extremely secular world, we are fearfully and wonderfully made by the all-powerful and all-wonderful Creator.
I Woke Up Like This: What It Really Means to Be Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
Ever since I can remember I have been exposed to the objectification of women. Turn on any advertisement or TV show. Women have become an object for pleasure and beauty has become the mark of value. I had started to notice the unhealthy dependence I had on my appearance about a year ago. I wouldn’t leave my house without my makeup and hair done, and I spent a ridiculous amount of money on clothes. I fed off of the compliments. If there was a day when someone wouldn’t tell me that I looked good I would come home utterly defeated. I sought the words of others as a way to prove my worth. But why?
What is true beauty?
I began to realized that the only reason I cared about my appearance was because I wanted people (men mostly) to give me attention. I wanted to be wanted and I used my appearance as a way to manipulate people to like me. Now, I don’t use the term manipulate in a way to say that I was the prettiest girl, but to show that the fake hair, the eyelashes, the clothes, were all a facade I used to become what I thought people wanted me to be. It was heavy. I felt like I couldn’t go anywhere unless I met this “perfect” standard of how I had to look. I needed freedom. I confessed my struggle a few months ago to some close friends of mine, and had been praying for about a year that the Lord would bring me freedom. I would read Psalm 139 over and over again. “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.” OKAY BUT WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?! Feeling frustrated and desperately seeking clarity, I was talking with a dear friend about feeling stuck in my struggle, when she suggested that we don’t wear makeup or do our hair for one whole week. No matter where we go. My personal hell. No way. The more I thought about it however, the more I knew I had to do it. What if I stripped away every false sense of security these things brought, and went a whole week, choosing to expose my deepest insecurities and trust that the Lord would sustain me through my weakness? The thought of this made my stomach turn, but I felt the Lord pushing my heart to let go. We rallied our roommates and some other close friends and made a pact. One week. No makeup allowed. Natural hair only.
The Comparison Game
Day one I was feeling really anxious. I don’t think any of my friends had really seen me without makeup. Most people just commented that I looked tired, but other than that I was feeling okay. As the next days passed, I started to feel a bit more insecure and it was then that I noticed how comparison tormented my heart. Until recently I never considered comparison a “sin” I thought it was normal, that everyone did it. But in stripping away my security, my sin was evidently exposed. Comparison had become a disease that had overtaken my life. It seeped into every thought, relationship, interaction. Comparison had taken the celebration in my life and turned it to competition. I would go into every interaction defensive, because I felt like I wasn’t enough. Each thought I had about myself was negative. It was excruciating, I felt inadequate in every way, all because I didn’t fit this worldly standard of beauty. In taking away my security I was left feeling naked, having nothing to cling to I knew that all I could do was lay down at the feet of Jesus and ask Him to carry my through. In my defeat, I was reminded of the victory that has already come. Psalm 139 came to mind and I knew I had been missing what the Lord was trying to tell me.
“For you formed my inward parts, you knitted me together in my mothers womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” – Psalm 139:13-14
As I was reading this a new word stood out to me. Knitted. Google tells me that the definition of knitted is “to unite or cause to unite.” Not understanding how this applied to my creation I began to think about the times growing up when I had watched my grandmother knit. She would spend hours, carefully sitting over the garment she was creating. Her hands would work skillfully, any missed stitch or imperfection was pulled out and reworked. She gently worked the yarn into a useful, and beautiful creation. This however is about more than sweaters. I think the same goes for us and our creation. We were made in the image of God. He formed our inward parts, more than just blood and guts, he formed our hearts. Our souls. He made us with deep, heart-felt interest and admiration. He created us each uniquely and marvelously.
Made In His Image
This realization brought me to my knees. Our glorious, awe-inspiring creator made us in His image and I had cheapened that by believing my body was only useful for beauty. And on top of that I made a joke of myself, trying to alter the way I looked for other people. I was devastated. I began to think of the other women I pour into, the girls I disciple, the women I do life with, and I was overwhelmed with sorrow. I so desperately want them to know of the incredible purpose God has for their lives and the value in the bodies we have been given in order to help us accomplish it. So this is for you. The girl who feels inadequate. The popular one, the nerdy one, the pretty one, and the “weird” one. This is for anyone who has ever been called fat, or ugly. Any girl who has ever been made fun of for her skin color, for her height, for the way she looks. This is for those with eating disorders, depression or anxiety. This is for anyone who doesn’t know how deeply valued and beautiful they are. I may not have been where you have been, but I know how it feels to live in a world where we are constantly falling short. But sisters, I have hope for you! This world is not our home, and the people here do not declare our worth. Jesus came to Earth and was murdered on a cross to not only restore our relationship with God, but to show to us that our Heavenly Father would rather give His own than lose us all. We don’t have to be chosen by this world because we have already been chosen by the Kingdom of Heaven. We are no longer slaves, but we run free because our ransom has been paid by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. So I am here to apologize to that I have hurt. To confess to you that I have fallen, but to share with you the sweet mercy God has shown me in allowing me to pick up my cross and choose to live in a different light. I will no longer stand against you, but I will stand beside you. I pray that we can value our righteousness over our reputation, knowing that beauty doesn’t come from external adornment, but rather that of the inner self and the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:3-4).