How to Be Set Free From Physical Expectations


Any desire run amok can drive the one it possesses—including the desire to be just a little more beautiful.

In his book, Counterfeit Gods, Timothy Keller quotes the famous singer, Madonna, as saying:

I have an iron will, and all of my will has always been to conquer some horrible feeling of inadequacy... I push past one spell of it and discover myself as a special human being, and then I get to another stage and think I’m mediocre and uninteresting... again and again. My drive in life is from this horrible fear of being mediocre. And that’s always pushing me, pushing me. Because even though I’ve become Somebody, I still have to prove I’m Somebody. My struggle has never ended and it probably never will.

Madonna was referring to an obsessive desire to prove she is Someone through success. But any desire run amok can drive the one it possesses—including the desire to be just a little more beautiful.

Every day women—and men—take desperate measures to become more beautiful through plastic surgery and other treatments motivated by nothing more than insecurity. Last year I watched a national news channel which reported about a woman who was so desperate to look younger that her repeated Botox treatments caused cancer and eventually led to her death.

We must remember that an obsessive desire to be beautiful is like an obsessive desire to be rich. No matter how great you look, no matter how often others tell you that you are attractive, if insecurity is behind your hunger to be beautiful, you will never feel beautiful enough.

In an article by Today’s Christian Woman entitled, Breaking Free from Physical Expectations, one of the magazine’s editors writes:

Take the self out of self-esteem and replace it with God-esteem, and you have a different picture. If you try to love yourself apart from God, you’ll fail. Esteem doesn't come from your appearance, your work, your family, or other people. You’re highly esteemed simply, because God created and chose you. God doesn't say, “If only she’d lose five pounds, I could love her more.”

So what does God say about us? To begin with, God says that He values the heart above all things. While man looks on the outward appearance He looks on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). He also says that we have been adopted by Him (John 1:12), that He has redeemed us (Ephesians 1:7), that He loved us so much that He died on cross to save us from our sin (John 3:16-17). No doubt we have great value apart from how we look, because of His great love for us.

There are two keys to being set free from the bondage of caring too much about your physical appearance:

1) Embracing the truth of what God says about you and

2) Rejecting the world’s lie that being more beautiful will make you more acceptable, less rejectable, or more valuable.

When beauty is idolized, it never delivers on its promises. Remember that your value comes from Christ and Christ alone.

Having a balanced view of the relationship between self-esteem and beauty also means that we don’t idolize beauty that would cause us to devalue how God made us; nor do we take a lax attitude toward taking care of our bodies because “God loves me just the way I am.” While it’s true that God does love us just how we are, taking care of our bodies is important, so that we can serve Christ to the best of our ability while on the earth. But we don’t need to obsess about it.

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