Thursday, October 1, 2009

true beauty

Being an unemployed recent graduate really takes a toll on your confidence. It starts with your self-worth and quickly seeps into every aspect of your life - the way you look, the way you feel, the things you value. And I often catch myself on this slippery slope and have to remind myself that my life does have a purpose. When did my thoughts get so skewed? This past January I took a women's ministry class that required every girl to create her own bible study. As most already know, I have a huge passion for teenage girls, especially middle school girls where I feel like your faith is tried and tested the most. I chose teenage girls as my outreach and focused on true beauty as the topic.

When I did research for the project I was completely shocked. By age 13, 53% of American girls were unhappy with their bodies. That number grows to 78% by the time the girls reach age 17. What?!? But should I really be THAT surprised? In a world where the media is constantly telling us how we should look, act, and feel...2/3 of American women are overweight, yet stores are full of size 00. Inadequacy has become the new normal. Its sad and terrible and I've fallen victim to it more than once. It is a ploy from Satan to get girls to turn their eyes from God and to look to themselves.

The problem is that women do not see themselves as beautiful. I'm just as guilty as the next girl at feeling this way. In fact, a woman's image of herself has become so distorted that another study I researched revealed that only 2% of women surveyed selected "beautiful" from a list of words to describe themselves. However, Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are God's masterpiece." I think that sometimes my biggest struggle is that I KNOW the truth of God's Word, but I don't always believe it. There are mornings when I wake up and look in the mirror and think, "ehhh..." or try on clothes in a dressing room and end up beating myself up about my lack of self control with desserts. What an insult to God! I'd be crushed if I spent time making something I thought was beautiful only to have someone say it was ugly.

I wish I still had the confidence that I had in 6th grade. In fact, I may have had a little TOO much confidence. I was loud and loved being the center of attention, I insisted on wearing my hair in a bun like a real ballerina, and I wore no makeup aside from the massive amounts of glitter that was "cool" at the time. I'm blessed to say my confidence lasted throughout some of the toughest times (aka middle school and high school). I did not wear make-up until well into 11th grade and when my mom asked me if I wanted any I simply replied, "I don't need make-up, I think I look pretty without it." That was a bold statement. And a lie. I look back at those pictures now and wonder what in the world I was thinking.

Anyways, the point is that its not about just knowing that you and I are "fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God" but truly believing it. Lipstick always makes me feel like a lady and cute shoes put a little pep in my step, but those things are only temporary fixes. Jeremiah 1:5 says, "Before I made you in your mother's womb, I chose you." We don't have to worry about measuring up - that includes being pretty enough, smart enough, or even successful - God accepts us exactly as we are. I, for one, am glad.

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