One in which ALL my physical imperfections and insecurities took center stage in my mind.
I'm not entirely sure what sparked it. I experienced a ton of freedom from vanity after my acne episode earlier this year so this isn't as frequent of a struggle for me. Yet, this week I did have a hard struggle.
Beauty felt completely out of reach. My eyes saw ugly everywhere I looked. I was reminded of any imperfection, no matter how minute or ridiculous, that wasn't meeting the world's standards of beauty.
And the toughest "ugly" to face were my many red, crater-like acne scars. These scars from my acne episode (see old post) have been the enemy's go-to ammunition for months. And I'm very much aware that with each shot, he aims to kill any confidence of beauty I might believe about myself.
Friends, this is a relentless and frustrating battle.
And I know you understand.
I have no doubt that most of you could quickly spat out a list of imperfections about yourself.
I know that many of you have those ugly minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, even years where you see nothing beautiful about yourself and you become consumed with thoughts of imperfections.
If you're like me, these moments (or battles) of "ugly" leave you pathetically insecure. You compare and then deeply despair. You obsess and then stress. And you become dangerously blinded from God's sightline or vision for true beauty.
And what stinks most of all is that our kids are entering this battle at an earlier age than ever.
I know a 5 year old little girl who called herself the "Fat Girl" in Kindergarten.
I've listened to moms speak of concern over their 4 year old daughters' obsession with looking beautiful for others...overly focused on jewelry, curls, shiny shoes, and pretty dresses.
Just the other day, I saw lingerie-like bras available for pre-teens. Since when do 10 or 11 year old little girls need to worry about their training bras looking sexy?
And it isn't just the girls who enter the beauty battle at an early age. Even young boys have become way too focused on bulky muscles, height, and fashion.
Everywhere we look kids, to some extent, are struggling with insecurities surrounding their physical beauty. They fight feelings of "ugly" and they obsessively focus on their own (or others') physical imperfections.
The enemy has perverted and blurred our eyes in regards to beauty and we are growing more and more distraught and defeated.
So what can we do to help ourselves and our children begin to see beauty as God does?
The obvious answer: We fight the enemy.
But, I also think the answer lies in RETHINKING beauty. It's time to take the mind of God and define beauty through His eyes.
FIRST: God IS beauty. "Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary." [Psalm 96:6] He defines it because He is it. Thus, we marvel and focus on His beauty rather than our own.
SECOND: The Bible teaches that God's works are wonderful AND that we are fearfully and wonderfully made by God. [Psalm 139:14] So if His works are wonderful and we are a wonderful work...then BAM we are His beautiful masterpiece. He doesn't see acne scars. He sees a gorgeous and radiating creation whom He deeply treasures and adores. Thus, we embrace who we are cause God had everything to do with it.
THIRD: The Bible teaches that beauty is fleeting. It also teaches that to fear the Lord is to be praised. (Proverbs 31:30) To fear the Lord is to have a heart completely and utterly in awe of Him. Outer beauty will fade (and quicker than we think), but an inner beauty radiating God's love grows more and more beautiful with each new day. Thus, we gracefully age knowing full well that our inner looks will earn us God's praise.
FOURTH: The Bible also teaches that God does look at the things man looks at like the outward appearance but rather He looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7) God doesn't care if our legs are covered in cellulite or if we have crows feet below our eyes. He very simply cares about our hearts. Do we love Him? Do we act like Him? Our God is not shallow and for that I'm so very thankful. Thus, our obsession must be rooted in seeking after and emulating God's heart.
As I meditate on how God defines beauty, I long for Him to refocus my, along with my children's, eyes to see as He does.
To see that true beauty is...
KINDNESS: Seeing a girl extend friendship to another girl with special needs.
SERVICE: Seeing a boy help his mother fold the laundry.
COMPASSION: Seeing a girl cry alongside her best friend who just lost her family pet.
FORGIVENESS: Seeing a boy extend grace and God's love to the school bully.
GENEROSITY: Seeing a little boy spend his hard earned allowance money to buy his great nana her favorite candy bar.
HUMILTY: Seeing an older brother put his younger brother first by inviting him to play with his older friends.
LOVE: Seeing a brother snuggle his younger sister and do whatever it takes to protect her.
In all honesty, I'm thankful for my "ugly" battle this week. And I'm sure it won't be my last. But through it, God is doing a new work in me. A wonderful, new work..
Let's pray and ask God to show us and our children true, radiating beauty as He sees it!
I pray that my children and I can RETHINK the definition of true beauty. Protect us from believing the enemy's blurred version of beauty. Strengthen us to resist obssesing over physical imperfections. I pray that You would refocus our vision to see beauty through Your eyes. May we look at the heart as You do. May we long to be praised for our love for and adoration of You rather than our good looks. May we understand that we are a wonderful work created by You, thus we are always, no matter our age, Your beautiful masterpiece. I pray our obsession and focus would be on seeking after the heart of God. And may we possess inner beauty with a heart that overflows with kindness, service, compassion, forgiveness, generosity, humility, and love.