Thigh gap, size 0, flawless complexion. These are some standards in a world where perfection is just a few surgeries away. But, we are called beautiful, radiantly beautiful, by the Creator of all things, who created us perfectly.
I Am: Radiantly Beautiful
“Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces“. – Psalms 34:5
I am radiantly beautiful. What a profound statement, especially not one that you hear someone say too often in this day and age.
Well, I’m here to tell you that it is more than okay to proclaim this over yourself. Words have immense power. What we choose to say over ourselves not only defines how we view ourselves, but essentially, how the world views us.
As followers of God, we are called to be the light of this world, spreading joy, love, and grace wherever we go. The Bible says,
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” – Matthew 5:14.
However, how can we do this when we cannot fully love who God created us to be? I’ve come to realize that the only way to shine God’s light is to find our identity in Christ himself.
For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with various personal battles. The most significant battle to date has been one that has taken me on an incredibly emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual journey. To state it simply, I struggled with what many young women out there struggle with: body dysmorphia.
I was never significantly overweight but there was always something that I wanted to change about myself, mostly in regards to my weight. What really triggered my spiral downward into this self-destructiveness was attending a performing arts high school in ninth grade.
Growing up in a safe, sheltered community, I had never been exposed to the world outside of my home and my school. Transitioning to a new high school was very difficult – I felt isolated, misunderstood, and completely overwhelmed. For the first time, I was surrounded by a sea of new faces from all different backgrounds and I felt unworthy.
Mostly, though, I did not feel beautiful. It was truly the most amazing and most difficult year of my life.
After ninth grade, I decided it would be best to go back to my local public high school. While I had left the performing arts school, the demons that I had not yet faced continued to haunt me.
I began harming myself, destroying the temple that God created me to live and breathe in. Initially, I was in control, thinking that I would be perfectly content if I just lost a little bit of weight. Before I knew it, I was weighing myself everyday and if I didn’t lose a little bit more everyday, I hated myself.
My entire sense of worth came from how I looked in the world’s eyes. The moment I knew that I had a serious problem was when I was shampooing my hair and a chunk of hair fell out. I was mortified. I vividly remember sitting in the shower, sobbing.
I didn’t understand how I had come to this point in my life at sixteen years old. I had never felt more alone in my entire life and it was a struggle that nobody could understand but me. No one knew – not my friends and especially, not my family. I swore to myself that if I got out of this, I would never tell a soul about the pain I went through.
Well, here I am a couple years down the road and I have never felt more confident in sharing my story. Sure, I can sit here and say that I pulled myself out of this battle but really, it wasn’t me. It was all God.
I was fortunate enough to have God-loving best friends who didn’t know what I was dealing with at the time but showered me with grace and love every single day. I remember looking at my friends and thinking that I wanted to be as happy and as carefree as them.
Even though I had no relationship with God at the time of my eating disorder, my friends never failed to tell me about God and how much he loved me. While I had been raised a Catholic, I never had a tangible relationship with God. What my friends were telling me sounded out of this world.
I just couldn’t wrap my mind around how God could love someone like me – so broken and so ashamed. As they continued to pour into me, I began to open up to the possibility that God was for me and that there was hope for my life. That none of the struggles that I had gone through could or would define me.
My favorite verse at that time was,
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11.
It was my senior year of high school when I really decided to give God a shot. For the most part, I had overcome my eating disorder but I was still struggling with my image. I realized that I couldn’t do this on my own strength because I still looked at myself with worldly eyes and didn’t like what I saw.
I began pressing into God, expressing my fears, my insecurities, and how I felt about myself as a whole. None of my circumstances or thoughts changed overnight but I do know that I would not be where I am right now if I hadn’t pressed in to God during that difficult season.
Now, as a college sophomore, I am fully healed by my God’s amazing grace. I look back at my sixteen year old self and I am shocked by how far God has taken me.
From a girl who had no self worth and hated every part of herself to someone who is confident enough to say, “I am radiantly beautiful”, I am continually amazed by the power of our God.
I still have days when those thoughts from my eating disorder days revisit me, but now I know who I am in God. God knew me before I was formed and He created me in his image.
When I wake up in the morning, I look in the mirror and I proclaim over myself, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.” Starting my day with God’s word sets everything in my life into place. I know that from the minute I wake up, God is with me, He is inside of me, and He loves me.
The biggest advice I can give to the girls out there struggling with not feeling beautiful enough – remember that you are not alone. This is not an isolated battle; it is something that so many of us go through on a daily basis. Even so, our God is so good and He will never forsake us.
Our beauty is not defined by this world; it is defined by who we are in God.
To me, to be radiantly beautiful means that you are so in tune with God that nothing in this world can shake you. It’s not an easy battle or a quick fix, but there is so much hope for each and every one of you struggling. I, for one, never thought I’d see the light at the end of the tunnel. But, God does magical things if you just press in and have faith to believe.
So, go out into world as God has called us to do. Surround yourself with people who will lift you up and continue to strengthen who you are in God, for He is the only one who can fill us with true joy so that we exude radiant beauty. Be the light of this world and know that God’s definition of beauty is the only one we should seek, for He has made everything beautiful in its time.