When It's Hard to Hit "Publish"

There is a burden on my heart this morning that won't let up. It's one that comes up from time to time, though it's always festering just below the surface. It's one that I've thought of writing about before, but I was nervous. I am nervous. Because it's one of those things that has the potential for toe squishing, and I'm not one to enjoy squishing others' toes or having mine squished, either. Yet it remains, undeniable and, this morning, powerful.

As those who profess faith in Christ, our lives are to be different, yet in America, there is so much bleeding over into the world that it is very hard to for us to be identified with Christ. I follow a ministry that does hard and scary work in Sudan, and the dangers that they and the ones they minister to there face every day make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I cannot even imagine having the courage and calling to go there and do that very hard and dangerous work. Yet I wonder if the dangers we face in America are not, in some ways, more foreboding. For, many times, they are disguised. There are snares laid for us that lead to eternal death, but they are so well-hidden that we do not recognize them...until it's too late.

One such snare that is a danger to me as well as many others, I'd guess, is our idolatry of physical beauty. If you "go to church," you've probably been warned against and have even clucked your own tongue as you've lamented the sadness of what we see on magazine covers in the checkout line at Publix or, God forbid, Walmart. We all shake our heads and declare how sad it is that Hollywood is so obsessed with outward beauty that millions of dollars are spent, bodies are abused, and lives are destroyed over it. We say how dangerous and rampant pornography is and hang our heads as we mention "those people" who produce it and abuse it. And all the time, we lull ourselves into thinking it's not a problem for us. For "church people."

I can even convince myself that it's not a big deal most of the time. And so I stay silent, just pausing long enough every once in a while to shake my head at "the world." But now it's confession time. Here's the truth: The way I feel about my physical appearance on any given day affects my mood and the way I interact with others, especially my husband, and that is a red flag indicating a heart problem. When I "feel fat", I act grumpy and think thoughts of discontentment. When I measure myself, my skin, my hair, my shape, my clothes against those of others and come up short, I think disparaging thoughts and lament my own bad luck. When I look in the mirror and have to face the fact that, though it seems terribly unfair, both acne and wrinkles are plaguing me at the same time, I try to conjure up ways to fix it and will not face anyone else without doing my best to cover it up. On weeks when I don't get my four workouts in, I struggle to find peace. Sometimes I even find myself thinking that it would be nice if my beautiful, amazingly comfortable-in-her-own-skin daughter would take a little more care with her personal appearance.

These things may seem trivial to you, or you may be appalled at my lack of self-confidence, but as the Lord searches my heart, I see that they are symptoms of a spiritual problem. And, honestly, as I look around at the plastic surgery, money spent on hair, make-up, and wrinkle creams, designer clothes, exercise-aholics, and public cries to be told we're skinny and beautiful on social media, I realize that I cannot be the only one who struggles with these things. The danger comes when we don't recognize the problem. The Lord has been gracious to show me that the way I view myself and my body (and the bodies and appearances of others) is not healthy and pleasing to Him.

Still, though I know it's not okay, I still struggle. But that's the key...I'm struggling. What I fear is that most women who claim Christ do not see that the feelings they're having and the actions they're taking to alleviate those feelings indicate a spiritual problem. Women are continually going down the path of seeking to attain a physical appearance that they can have peace with and that gains them approval and attention from those around them, whether it be their own husbands, other women, or even other men. Obviously, this can end up leading to a place that none of us needs to go. Our hearts are meant to worship God alone, and when we break that very first commandment, trouble ensues.

Though bombs are dropping and bullets are flying in Sudan, while we enjoy physical safety from those threats in America (for the most part), I wonder if we aren't being damaged and destroyed just as often. While the Lord tells us that the only way to satisfaction, peace, confidence, fulfillment and joy is in Him and through Him, the enemy tells us the opposite. He has us putting all of our thoughts, efforts, and hope in something that will pass away. We're fighting a losing battle. Our bodies are experiencing and will continue to experience the effects of sin in our world, slowly moving toward destruction until the day we die. It sounds horrible, but it's true. However, the great hope we have is that someday we will receive a new, immortal body that will never die. We are urged by the Lord to deposit all of our energy and desire into knowing Him and looking forward to the restoration and renewal He will someday consummate. 

Ladies (myself included), don't let the enemy rule your lives. Don't waste yourself fretting over things that one day will not matter. And, please, quit seeking your worth and happiness in the approval of men. Do you really want to be surrounded by people or "loved" by a man who only values what you cannot keep? Don't sacrifice yourself to the god of beauty. It will leave you empty and will likely destroy your or your marriage or your daughters while you're at it.

When we spend ourselves seeking outward approval and value, what do we say about the sufficiency of Christ? With our actions and the attitude of our hearts, we are screaming, "He is not enough for me; therefore, He is not enough for you." We are not basing our value on the one thing that truly makes us worth something....the love of our Creator. We are continually telling Him that He did not make us good enough and we seek to "fix" what He did not do correctly. We tell our daughters that they must chase after the approval and attention of men, and that is the most dangerous thing of all. More than any peace or joy I want for myself, I want my daughter to know her infinite worth in Christ and to spend her life seeking His delight in her. But if I tell her with my mouth that she is fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God for His glory and delight, and then I tell her with my actions that the glance of a man or her satisfaction with the image in the mirror is more important to me, guess which one she's more likely to believe.

Allow the Lord to search your heart and free you from this bondage. Quit looking at yourself with disdain or dissatisfaction. Quit hoping that someone will tell you you're beautiful or some man will give you a second glance. Quit thinking that finding a man who cherishes you more than the one you have will change the feelings of self-loathing in your heart. Quit justifying the time, energy, and money you spend on cleaning up the outside (whether it be yet another new outfit you don't need or plastic surgery or the newest wrinkle cream), while on the inside, you're rotting away with a desire that can only be filled by the One who looks on the heart. Quit grasping at the wind and hold onto the Rock.

I will add this disclaimer: I am not saying that we should not be good stewards of our bodies or seek to show our husbands that we value them by taking care of their wives. But please don't try and use that to justify idolatry. It is a matter of the heart and, if I'm honest with myself, the efforts I take to maintain my physical body are not often based on the desire to be a good steward, be more able to serve the Lord well, or show my husband that I value him.

We know the truth. It is time we allow the Lord to transform our hearts, our minds, and our bodies so that we actually believe it.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, 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. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. 1 Peter 3:1-6

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 
1 Samuel 16:7

I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changedin a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”  
1 Corinthians 15:50-54


  1. Amen. I could have written a similar story myself. Second time I've tried to post this and my comment isn't sticking.


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