I don’t know a single woman who doesn’t have body image issues. Ask any one of us and we can quickly point out our most serious flaws. Our nose is too big, or our eyes are too close together or our teeth too crooked. We also have a definite idea of what…or whom…we wish we looked like. We each of us want to be skinnier, or taller, or dark headed as opposed to gray headed. We buy wrinkle cream, we dye our hair, we whiten our teeth, all to achieve some perceived ideal state of beautiful womanhood.
Or maybe we don’t. Maybe instead we let that image in the mirror taunt us and ridicule us and keep us beaten down and insecure, hating the way we look and thus hating ourselves. We see the ideal–the ideal our culture presents to us–and we know we do not measure up and as a result we begin to believe we are ugly, unwanted, and something-less-than.
How much of our self image is wrapped up in that image of self there in the mirror. How much of our security…and our insecurity…finds itself in the way we look. We think to ourselves: If only….if only I could lose twenty pounds…if only I could have a little work done around the eyes…if only my hair were longer or shorter or fuller or blonder…if only…
Here’s where we have to be careful. Our “if only…” so often reflects where we are seeking satisfaction and worth and can easily, and oh-so-subtly, set itself up as a false god in our life. Watch for those things you think you need in order to be happy or fulfilled or satisfied, and that is where the enemy will tempt you to idolatry. Whatever is on the other side of your “if only…” will not make you happy and your enemy knows this even as he perpetuates the lie.
Listen, I’m not saying lose the lipstick and trash the treadmill. Our bodies are the temple, the dwelling place, of the Holy Spirit of God and we are to take care of ourselves. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a trip to the beauty shop or the occasional pedicure. We need to do what is necessary to be healthy, absolutely. I’m not talking here about the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle; I’m concerned about our tendency to derive our worth from our perceived beauty or the perceived lack thereof.
In our current culture, it is critical we understand the definition of true beauty and as radical as it may seem, it has nothing whatsoever to do with the size of one’s jeans. Oh, the magazine and television images will tell us differently. There, beauty is defined as youth and perfection, bone-thin and a with-it wardrobe. And we buy it. We believe it. And we think if we could only look like her…
In contrast, our Lord defines beauty as follows:
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment…Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
It’s not outward; it’s inward. Not the clothes, the hair, nor the dress size. Rather, it is a gentle and quiet spirit which God views as precious and beautiful.
How do we develop that inside kind of beauty, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit? It too comes from a look in a mirror:
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed in the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
Want to be beautiful? Truly beautiful? Look to Jesus, beholding the Beautiful One as revealed in the mirror of God’s eternal Word…