The new year is arriving soon and I am excited at the possibilities of change and growth. Of course, I also know that some change, some growth, will take longer than a year to achieve and that’s okay. I also know that some changes I want to see will not happen, and I pray God will show me the way to accept it. With that in mind, I am ready for what the end of the year represents.
I know this next bullet point in the list of insecurities that causes us to lose focus on God and His work for us is probably one of the top insecurities on many of our lists to fix this year. I just want to remind you that nothing should come before your relationship with God. Do not let worldly things consume your time with God (I write this to remind you as well as to remind myself).
Poor body image can be the loss of hair, a birthmark (or two or more), weight, etc. The perception that you have a poor body image can lead to a sense of shame and self-consciousness that permeates every personal interaction. That means when you do your work for God and interact with others, you’ll only be half into the interaction while half of your focus would be towards the body parts of you that you are trying to hide.
The funny thing about our poor perception of our body image is that we didn’t notice it until someone pointed it out to us. Prior to that, we thought we were perfect. Once it’s pointed out, that imperfection becomes a huge factor in how we view ourselves and causes low self-esteem and sometimes even causes us to be pessimistic about how we look. Having low self-esteem because of the way we look becomes an obstacle to doing God’s great work because our voice lacks the confidence of who we are in God when we speak. Our constant worry is whether we’ll be judged based on how we look. When we worry about how we look, we present ourselves in a poor way because we are uncomfortable.
How do we overcome our poor body image and low self-esteem?
I’ll start by sharing my story of my poor perception of my body image and how I am overcoming it. I say “overcoming” because I find myself still hiding it although I don’t focus on it as much anymore.
The first time I noticed that I have a “big” nose was when my mom told me I have my dad’s nose and that our people (referring to my dad’s clan) have big noses. I started comparing my nose to others’ when I was in middle school and noticed my nose is bigger. I started worrying about it and tried not to draw attention to the center of my face (really easy to do, right?). When I grew older, I didn’t want to draw attention to myself and wouldn’t volunteer myself for anything unless no one else volunteered. I didn’t feel worthy and I worried others would comment behind my back about my nose (and that was certainly better than having the comments made to my face). It wasn’t until I entered college that I was able to let go of my pessimistic and unrelated view of how my large nose somehow disqualifies me to do the work that interests me.
I got over my low self-esteem of my nose by speaking truth to myself and opening my own eyes every day. “I have a beautiful nose” “my nose was made perfectly for my face” “I love my nose.” I would look carefully in the mirror and speak these words to myself and making sure I believe these words before I left the house. I would love myself for how I look.
The worst of it is that no one outside of my family mentions this “defect.” Whenever my mom comments on it (and I do not think she has any bad intentions because it was said in a teasing way), I would take it seriously and defend my nose. I defend it and state that I fiercely love my nose just as it is. This helps boost my confidence because I am defending myself and I am doing great defending myself, loving myself enough to know I am worthy of defending my value.
My nose is a part of me, I cannot hate a part of myself and say that I love myself. I needed to love myself completely, wholly, and that means accepting my nose and knowing that I look good with my nose regardless of what people may say. Genesis 1:27 states “you are beautiful because you are created in God’s image.” I couldn’t possibly be ugly and the nose God gave me was and is not a mistake. I was beautifully made in the image of my great God.
The other body part that I view as beautiful and was taken away from me is my feet. The big toes are slanted outward and not straight ahead like most people (at least people around me anyway). Again, my mom was the one who pointed that out to me and said it is no longer beautiful. Before she said anything negative about them, I thought I had the most beautiful feet with great curves. Since she told me (this was in high school), I would hide my feet. No more sandals, no more open toes heels. I didn’t want people to see my feet and focus on how crooked they are. I didn’t want them to see my imperfect feet. I had a hard time finding open-toe shoes that wouldn’t emphasis the crookedness of my big toes. During summer, I confined my feet inside closed-toe shoes instead of allowing them to breathe.
This imperfection still affects me but I have accepted my toes and just loving the fact that they are my toes, they belong to me. I even allow others to make fun of my feet when they want to because the biggest imperfection I want to fix is my relationship with God. My relationship with God comes first and I want that to be my first priority always. Friends, when we make God our priority, our imperfections melt to the background and it disappears.
You loved yourself as you are before somebody came along and told you you shouldn’t love yourself because you are not perfect. Still, fiercely love yourself because you ARE IMPERFECT, just as God created you to be. You are imperfect so that you can be perfect with God.
What I admired most in the church is not the beauty of the most beautiful girl, what I admire most is the beauty that radiants inwardly from the one that worships God with all their heart and laughs with joy in God’s presence. That makes me jealous because I want to be like her or him. Usually, they are not what the world would classify as beautiful or handsome, but to me, they are the truly beautiful ones. They are truly made perfect in God and radiate God’s beauty. If you have a need to be perfect, only look to God, then you wouldn’t notice the imperfections the world tries to force you to look at. If you look to the world, you will not achieve anything you want to.
It has taken many years to be content with the imperfections my mom pointed out but it also taught me to love myself regardless of what others may say. My identity is in God and my worldly body is a home for only a short amount of time.
There is no cure for fixing bodily imperfections without surgery, but you do not need surgery. It is only a change of your mind and perception of what beauty is. The definition of beauty changes every decade and if you follow its trend by changing yourself through surgery, you’ll be doing that all your life. Instead, change your definition of beauty to you loving God and living a life of love. That definition of beauty will never fade with age.
(Disclaimer: I am not saying you shouldn’t work out because you may need to for health reasons. I am not saying you shouldn’t wear make-up either).
For the upcoming year, let’s let go of the worldly idea of what perfect beauty is and focus on loving the natural body God has given us. Hold tight to the beauty of God that shines from inside of you, that beauty transcends all levels of beauty and makes you perfect.
Friend, let’s forget about the imperfection of our body that others point out, focus on the perfection God is handing you. This upcoming year, let’s devote it to God alone.
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