If I’m ever blessed with a daughter, I never want anything I say or do to cause her to worry about her body. I don’t want her to catch a discontented glance in the mirror, a thoughtless comment about what was wrong with what I just ate, or a criticism of the way God created me, and watch silently as she subconsciously takes it all in. It’s for that reason that I’m so determined to fight against the world’s distortions of beauty, and even more so against the lies in my own mind about the body God crafted for me!
I despise the attitude women are taught to have about themselves, and yet I still find it too easy to be dragged into it.
“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14
I read this and wonder just how well my soul really knows it. I suffered from an eating disorder for several years as a teenager, and lived with the emotional scars for the years since. I spend a large amount of my time travelling round schools across the country telling classrooms full of girls that it doesn’t matter what they see in the mirror each day because God’s love is unchanging, and that He looks at them and sees nothing but sheer beauty because He’s pleased with His creation, yet I find myself questioning how much I really believe those truths.
As an ex-gym addict, I sometimes find myself mourning the body I once had, and yet the ironic thing is that at the time I never saw that body. In fact, what I saw in the mirror when I trained twice a day and was at the peak of my fitness was exactly the same as what I saw when I was 3st underweight, and the same as what I see on certain days now (though I’ve already been blessed with an incredible amount of healing).
I think as women we often live in that mindset of ‘If only…’! If only I looked like her… If only I hadn’t eaten that dessert… If only I had more hours to workout… Then I’d be happy with myself. But the truth – which I know from experience – is that even when all of those things are in place, they’re still not enough to make us happy. Why? Because only Jesus can satisfy us!
“You are precious in my sight, and honoured, and I love you.” Isaiah 43:4
Jesus doesn’t put any ‘If only’ clauses on his love. He doesn’t ask me to change how I look or who I am to be worthy of Him. He wouldn’t love me more if I was thinner, or prettier, or taller, or wore more make-up, or ‘made more of an effort’. His love is already complete, abounding, steadfast and freely given! I’ve been struck heavily lately by the number of times in the Bible He tells me He delights in me. Never ‘would delight in me if…’, always ‘delights’! He delights in you right now, just as you are, because you are precious to Him, and He loves you.
“A woman of beauty knows in her quiet centre where God dwells that He finds her beautiful and deems her worthy and in Him she is enough.” Stasi Eldredge
In the light of that love, I renew my promise to my future daughter that I will make every effort to nurture her in all her glorious femininity, to reassure her every day of how infinitely and perfectly she is loved, and to instil in her heart a firm knowledge of her beauty as a woman of God.
And I will begin by choosing to believe that about myself. Today.