I’m sure no other women struggle with perpetual low self-esteem, bouts of insecurity, and occasions of self-hatred…
Well, during my Sick Week, I caught up on my Beth Moore Breaking Free study, and this week was all about girlhood (the word I’m going to use for girls’ childhood) dreams. As you can see in the my previous entry (“Dreams”), Beth believes that God longs not just to fulfill, but to surpass our dreams. I’m gonna try not to write too much of what Beth writes, because if you really want to read what she wrote you can just pick up Breaking Free, but I do want to share an important lesson that changed my viewpoint this week.
Beth listed four common girlhood dreams: (1) to be a bride, (2) to be beautiful, (3) to be fruitful, and (4) to live happily ever after. I know some feminists (including me) might flinch at that list, but bear with me/her… out of all of them, I most strongly believe every woman deeply desires to be found beautiful. And this week I saw how it begins at a very early age.
It struck me when I was getting Emma, who is 3 years old, ready for school on Thursday morning. It was the day of her preschool’s Valentine’s Day party, so her mom had laid out a beautiful red dress, tights with red bows on them, sparkly red dress shoes, and a couple of red hair bows to choose from. I don’t know if you were like me when I was little, but one of my favorite things to do was to dress up. I think a lot of girls love dressing up, even though a half an hour later all you want to do is take the tights and shoes OFF…
Anyway, I got teared up after I put her dress on and as I sat her on my lap to put her tights on; I was just thinking about how neat it is to have a little girl to share the joy of dressing up with. And it really hit me that she was growing up because she was excited to look special and pretty. I was also touched because it was so innocent — there were no thoughts in her head that she was ugly, that she wouldn’t be as pretty as another little girl, that it was no use dressing up, that the dress makes her look fat, etc. She felt like and probably truly believed that she was a princess because she didn’t have any doubts that she was beautiful. I helped her put her shoes on over her tights as the finishing touch. Then she jumped up and immediately asked for the red bow to complete her outfit.
I took her into the bathroom and brushed her hair and put the bow in, and I told her over and over again how pretty she looked. As I spoke those words over her, she glowed. She couldn’t hold her smile in.
Every girl longs to be found beautiful. And we carry it with us throughout our lives. At 75 years old, we will still want to be admired, sought after, desired, enchanting…
Yet Beth writes, and every woman in America knows, that our inherent beauty has been attacked. Advertising, eating disorders, abnormal models, airbrushing, celebrities, plastic surgery, PORNOGRAPHY… the list makes me sick. Because I know I, and many women I love, have been deeply affected by it.
I will admit on here that I very, very personally and secretly struggle with the most intense self-hatred. I don’t believe this comes anywhere but from Satan (I know that sounds very abrupt and maybe a little off-putting, but I believe it’s the truth; it’s certainly not from God and I definitely don’t have people whispering hateful things in my ear all day). If you asked me one thing on my body that I liked about myself, I would probably answer my eyes… and if you asked me to name a second thing, I wouldn’t have an answer. That is the honest truth. I don’t admit it very much, or at all, to anybody. And therefore, Satan likes to use it very much. So hopefully declaring it on here will help a little.
I spend way too much time thinking about the physical things about me that I hate and wish were different. I don’t believe that I am beautiful. I might feel beautiful for several minutes a year. I know that isn’t healthy, but it feels like I can’t help it! I don’t know if any other women identify with that.
And let me tell you, being in a loving and caring relationship doesn’t fix it. If anything, it intensifies the insecurities. Dayne was not meant to solve that problem for me. God is.
So back to when I did this study this past week… I really struggled with the lesson. Beth tells us to read Song of Songs because it is a reflection of our relationship with God, our ultimate Lover. Well, I believe that, but my feelings of insecurity and unloveliness are SO deep-rooted that I come cynical even to Biblical truth. But she kept pushing it. Song of Songs 2 and 4. She had us list all the terms of endearment in those chapters, and then every phrase that uses the word “beautiful”. I’ll share my answers:
“my darling… my beautiful one… my dove… my bride… my sister… my beautiful one (2x)… how beautiful you are… oh, how beautiful… all beautiful you are”
Imagine if someone kept repeating that to you! I’d at least blush 🙂
Then she had us examine Song of Songs 2:1-2:
Beloved: “I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.” Lover: “Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the maidens.”
Beth uses this to point out that the Beloved believed she was beautiful because her Lover found her beautiful. He became her “mirror”.
Alright, alright. My heart was beginning to soften to the idea that God truly does find me beautiful. Not “okay”, not “attractive”, but beautiful. Then towards the end of the study that day, Beth made this point:
“Being beautiful to Christ does not make me want to be less attractive… On the contrary, I am freer to look my best without feeling the bondage that I should look better.” (emphasis mine)
That is the key! We can rest in our relationship with Him. He is the Ultimate Lover of our souls. We will be with Him for eternity, and He is delightfully waiting for us. No one can take His love away from us. As I’ve started to realize this truth, my self-criticism has begun to quiet down. I’m not completely rid of it, and I think it will be a life-long process, but Satan shuts up when confronted with God’s truth. I finally feel some peace, and I’m beginning to see the truth of this verse as well:
“Wisdom brightens a man’s face and changes its hard appearance.” – Ecclesiastes 8:1
Christ makes me beautiful! As I find deeper satisfaction and grow more in Him, I will naturally exude God’s light and beauty. We are made in His image.
I will say I was blessed, because after reading all of this on Wednesday, I was just really hating my hair that day. I kind of hate my hair everyday, but that day I was particularly hating it. Then Dayne came over and, without me saying a word to him about it, kept telling me he loved my hair. Over and over again. Like a lot. His words touched my deepest insecurity that day.
Dayne could do that every day and I would still struggle. And the reality is that he’s not going to do that everyday. It was a blessing that day and it brought joy to my heart, but my fulfillment will not be in Dayne or any other man or in marriage. It will be through my relationship with God Himself. Beth touches on this as well: “Married women with common frustrations: Give your spouse room to be human. Forgive him for not being God. Forgive him for not always saying what you need to hear. The King is enthralled by your beauty.” Have you heard that before?
“The King is enthralled by your beauty; honor Him, for He is your Lord.” – Psalm 45:11
Oh, how I wish every woman would read this and know that God loves her and finds her beautiful! I pray that God will use this entry to touch your heart. He finds you perfect. Look to Him.
“…Let your mirror image be the face of Christ. To Him, the most beautiful woman on earth is the bride who steadily makes herself ready for her Groom.” – Beth Moore