When Your Looks Hinder Your Spiritual Life
We all have that one part of ourselves that we want to change. Some girls hate the color and texture of their hair, while other girls wish their bra size was bigger/smaller. I know girls who have muscular arms and who think it’s unflattering when they want to dress up. I know girls who feel they need to wear makeup everyday because they’re self-conscious of the amount of acne on their face (#truth – I’m guilty of this).
There always seems to be something “wrong” with our bodies that leads us to view ourselves in such a way that is contrary to how God truly designed us.
Personally, my body image issue has escalated into warping my view on living life. Growing up I was active and was a part of all kinds of sports teams. In high school I discovered the girls in band were a lot nicer than the girls on the volleyball team, so I quit. Ever since then I’ve struggled with my weight.
My self-confidence diminished over the years as I constantly compared my body to other girls. I began to incorporate my weight into my everyday life to fit in. What I wore or what my activities were for the day were all defined by my weight and how I viewed myself.
When I meet someone new, I think about how my weight looks in his or her eyes. If my friends are having fun playing volleyball, then I’m on the sidelines watching. When I think of my future, marriage is somewhat of a blur because I imagine and believe deep down that no man would want to be married to someone like me.
You could say it’s an identifier and worth-provider. Without recognizing it, I’ve grown to be consumed in myself. I didn’t realize how enslaved I was until my closest friend asked me about it after I made a snide comment about my arms.
“Megan, have you ever talked to God about this?” “No…I guess I never even thought about it. I’ve never really invited God into this all-consuming aspect of my life.”
If we can’t allow those closest to us into our body image issues we face, how can we allow God to take control of it and set us free? I had never brought this to God because I was so unaware of how enslaved I truly was.
In order to “compensate” for our “less-thans” we put up a mask, believing that if we are funny enough or nice enough or smart enough, then others will overlook our flaws and accept us. Performance becomes more important than being just ourselves.
Do not let your adornment be merely outward - arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel -- rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. -1 Peter 3:3-4
Culture today tells us to look inside and to draw our confidence from within, but Jesus is so counter-cultural that we can miss Him completely sometimes. Most of what society tells us is really just stroking our ego and beauty.
It’s so easy to get caught up in body image, but only when we allow the Lord fully into our entire selves can we live in complete freedom - a freedom where our beauty and identity comes from Jesus and His love alone.
This truth is a perfect example of the gospel! We, being sinful and icky humans, will never be perfect to be near God. But God loves all of our flaws – warts and all – so much so that He sent His Son to die on our behalf so that we don’t have to “compensate” or perform to be accepted!
If your human flaws are enslaving you and if they define who you are, know that your worth is far more than rubies (Proverbs 3:15; 31:10)! God does not determine your worth based on your looks and what the world is telling you about yourself. Growing up, my mother always told me that God doesn’t create ugly things, and this is so true!
Your acne is beautiful. Your frizzy hair is glorious. Your weight is stunning because this is all you.
God designed you so intricately and perfectly, not by accident. Your quirks display His majesty. What makes you different from others is God showing off what a beautiful woman He’s created! God desires a fulfilling life for you, free of enslavement from all things, and that life only comes from an intimate and real relationship with Him.
"I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well." -Psalm 139:14
Invite women closest to you into your struggles. Be open and honest with Godly women you trust and who love you unconditionally. Godly women do not judge one another and compare each other, but they build each other up! The women around you will not love you less because you struggle.
Above all, glorify God with your body and actions. When I talk badly about my body and constantly dream of being someone different, it’s as if I’m spitting in God’s face declaring His creations an ugly disaster. No matter how often we practice perfection we will never reach it. That’s just who we are as humans, so our physical forms will remain imperfect until we’re in the Kingdom. God gave us our individual bodies for His glory because He loves us. So, make it a habit to not talk badly about your body. When you build up a habit of grace for yourself, the Holy Spirit stirs in you, and you will experience the grace of God and allow it to flow unto others.
"For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come." -1 Timothy 4:8
Believe and understand that your spiritual life is far more important than your physical life. Our bodies and outer beauty are just a sliver of our existence here on earth. God doesn’t want us to be consumed and enslaved in such a small matter during our time here on earth. God desires our hearts. Our spiritual hearts need more tending than our physical bodies. Our “body image issues” are just a symptom of the greater issue of sin and separation from God.
Let us draw our focus heavenward. Instead of looking at ourselves, let's look at Christ. Let us attract attention to Jesus, not to the curves of our bodies, the clothes we wear or the physical beauty God has blessed us with.
Let's chat more in the comments below:
What about your looks and physical appearance hinders you in serving God fully and completely?
How can you take ten looks to Christ for every one look at yourself? Let's brainstorm tangible ways we can make a change today!