I was 13 years old when it all started. I was a little on the awkward side, I wore a retainer and I rarely styled my hair. I often dressed in baggy t-shirts and hand-me-down jeans. I was happy, loved and accepted in my own home, but I suddenly felt out of place when I first walked through the doors of my high school.
From that point on, I went to school each day and watched the girls around me become more and more grown up in the way they spoke and behaved. They developed curvy figures, wore makeup and talked about going on dates with their boyfriends. As I observed it all, I began to believe I wasn’t good enough because I wasn’t considered pretty or popular. I wasn’t anything special.
Fast forward a decade and you’ll find the very same girl standing before you today. Sure, I’m 23 now and have long since lost the braces, but I still struggle with insecurity. In fact, the feeling that I’m not good enough the way God made me has multiplied and magnified over the years. It has followed me through college and into adulthood.
As much as I don’t like to admit it, I often choose to believe the lie that I just don’t measure up. As a modest young woman living in a generation that believes less is more and pants are optional, I already get annoyed with life-sized posters of lingerie models that glare at me from storefront windows. (Last week I passed by an advertisement at a popular clothing store that told me I needed to “get cheeky” and buy their new shorts. How revolting.) But on top of the immodesty of these ads that offends me, what really gets to me is that they get in my face and scream, “You’re not good enough!”
I think many women would agree with me when I say that being bombarded by these kinds of images makes it even easier for us to look into the mirror and number all the things we feel God forgot to give us. Here’s just one example for me: I’ve hated my skin since I was about 16 years old. My skin is fair, it burns easily and lately it seems 99 percent of skincare and beauty products on the market cause it to break out.
Yes, I know—this is who I am. This is who God made me to be. But instead of believing that and embracing it, I frequently buy the lie that anything this world could offer me—including flawless beauty—would truly satisfy me. And, in doing so, I place my joy in a world that is passing away. For me, the desire is to look a certain way. For others, it could be success at work or popularity among peers. We all struggle with something, but if we put our hope in things of this world and then wake up tomorrow disappointed yet again…well, what then?
What I have learned in this ongoing battle of mine is that there is a greater purpose for my life than striving to meet the world’s (or even my own) impossible standards. There is one who tells me my inward beauty is far more important than my outward appearance (1 Peter 3:3-4). There is one who reminds me that, each time I fail and give in to the lie that I am not good enough, He is right there with me, waiting with open arms to forgive (1 John 1:9). He is the one who continually says, “My power is made perfect in your weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
The truth I need to cling to in order to kill the lies that tell me I am not enough is three-fold: 1) Believing that I am beautiful just the way God made me, 2) Knowing that life won’t ever be perfect in this fallen world, and 3) Focusing on the beautiful Creator himself.
Psalm 139:14 says, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” This doesn’t mean God gave me perfect skin, but it does mean he didn’t forget anything when he created me. And, until I am glorified with Christ in eternity, I will face many bumps in the road and I will have many disappointments. There will even be times when I am tempted to think, “If only I had (fill-in-the-blank), I would be happy.” But I need to remember that my Savior gave me everything I need in this life when he died on the cross for my sins. He is the true source of real, lasting and indescribable joy. I could have all the beauty and success in the world, but I would only come up dry. One day my looks will fade, my skin will wrinkle and my earthly body will die.
So today, as I am tempted to listen to the lies that aim to ensnare me, repeating like a broken record, “You’re not good enough!” I will choose to hope in the everlasting king of kings—the one who rules the universe yet intimately knows and loves me. And when I struggle with feeling unbeautiful, I will remember that I am created by the Beautiful One. After all, my desire for beauty is not one that can be satiated by obtaining the clearest complexion or the fittest figure. It is a desire that can only be fully, completely and irrevocably satisfied in the beautiful bloodshed cross of Jesus Christ.
Jennifer lives near Detroit, Michigan, and holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She works full time in marketing, but writing is her passion. She enjoys a good macchiato, running by the lake, and spending time with her two nephews. She regularly blogs about what it means to be a young woman who purposes to live a vital, Christ-centered life at www.jennifershopeblog.com.
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