If Only I Could Be More Beautiful
My friend recently sent me an email admitting some of her struggles with beauty. She asked if I'd ever struggled, too (um...yeah!). I thought I'd share her questions and my answers with you in the hopes that it will encourage you and remind you of who and what your beautiful body is for!
1. Are you ever tempted to get attention from/allure guys with your body?
Absolutely. Every day.
2. If so, how have you fought that temptation?
Well, in a weird sort of way, it helps that I've already "been there, done that." I spent my teenage years on an ever-increasing pursuit of beauty. I whitened my teeth, highlighted my hair, tanned, wore revealing clothes when I could get away with it, and frequented The Limited and other favorite clothing stores almost as often as most moms frequent the grocery store!
But it was never enough. The harder I tried, the more insecure I felt. There were always other girls who were more beautiful, who would show off more skin, not to mention the "perfect" bodies men see in pornographic images everywhere. (How can you compete with that?) All my efforts toward external beauty never won me my ultimate goal: to be loved, truly loved, by a guy.
Sure, I had guys who wanted me, but they wanted to have sex with me; they didn't care to know and cherish and delight in me the way God created a man to love one woman for life.
So now, when I catch myself thinking, I wonder what this guy is thinking about the way I look right now?, I realize it's ultimately a matter of who I'm trusting in. Am I trusting my good, wise God to give me what I need when I need it, or am I trusting in my looks in order to feel beautiful, gain admiration and worth, and meet my desires?
Do you know what is driving you to pursue outer beauty with so much determination and energy? Dig deep, and ask God to show you what you believe physical beauty will ultimately deliver for you. As with all idols, there's something you trust beauty will give you.
3. Are you secure in the way God made you, physically?
Umm...for the most part, yes. Although it wasn't always that way. From that first day on the playground when the other kids yelled, "Look! Paula runs like a duck!" I tried to hide the fact that my legs were bowed (crooked). I learned how to stand and walk so it was less obvious. I wore capris rather than shorts when possible.
My crooked legs aren't the only less-than-perfect part of my body. I actually pray that when I'm married, I'll be so focused on bringing my husband pleasure that I won't even think about myself and my own insecurities. I pray he will delight in my body even though it's not anywhere close to "perfect" by the world's standards.
I made up a question a while ago that really helps me evaluate my motives and repent on the spot: "Am I seeking to distract men or attract them to Christ?" Because that's the purpose of this body and life of mine . . . to bring God glory—to know Him and make Him known.
I also like the way Elyse Fitzpatrick defines Christian modesty as a refusal to show off out of love for God and love for our brothers and sisters.
4. How have you sought to find your security in Christ?
Honestly, that's been more God's work than mine. He's been so faithful to teach me more about what the gospel really means—that I have been crucified with Christ, that it's no longer I who live, but it's Christ who lives in me. He is my life! He is my security. His love for me will never fail. I will never have another love as strong as His for me. I am reoriented and helped as I meditate day after day on the Good News...on all of Scripture, actually.
5. What has God taught you over the years about outward beauty?
Like all my idols, if I worship beauty—if it consumes my thoughts, time, and energy—it will only disappoint me and leave me feeling empty. I don't think it should be ignored or neglected, though. As Christians, we can swing to extremes. I think our beauty—outer as well as inner—should attract others to the Christ who lives inside of us. I'm so grateful that God made me a woman and that I can "adorn the Gospel" (show others how beautiful it is) even with the way I look and dress!
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