Beauty Restored

YOU. ARE. BEAUTIFUL.
 
When you hear that statement, does it resonate truth in your soul?
Or do you shrug it off because that’s just a “nice comment” that you feel isn’t really true?
Do you make comments to counter act that statement? “Well that’s nice of you to say, but you should see my sister…SHE’S beautiful.” “Thanks, but I really hate the way my hair looks.” “Oh, not really. I need to lose some weight.”
I have to wonder what it does to God’s heart when His intricately woven masterpiece says that about herself. I’m sure it doesn’t make His heart happy when His beloved creations are criticized & devalued. For me, it has been a long & difficult process in understanding that I am beautiful. And it’s not because of the image I’ve created, but because of Whose image I’m created in. I was never “too much” for Him to handle. I was never “lacking”. From the day He created me in my mother’s womb, He’s been telling me how beautiful I am. But only recently was I willing to listen & believe Him.
What if we started viewing our “imperfections” & “quirks” the way that Jesus does? What if we started to appreciate His handiwork instead of critique it? One of us might not like the color of our eyes. But have you ever stopped to think about the design of those eyes?Look closely at your pupils, iris, & all the little patterns, speckles & shades of colors that compose the outside of those eyeballs. They are beautiful, aren’t they? I think they’re spectacular. They aren’t just lovely on the outside, they are ingeniously designed on the inside. 
Isn’t that incredible? How can we be so critical of the colors or shapes of our eyes when we know just a fraction about the intricacy of how your Creator made them?
 
Unfortunately though, it’s quite easy to feel inadequate or lacking. And we criticize. We complain. We grumble about our chunky thighs, our fluffy tummies & our lack of defined calf muscles. Even in the “best” shape of my life, I wasn’t content or happy with what I saw. My definition of beauty was based on something that doesn’t exist. The standard to which I was holding myself was a lie. And thanks to the media & Hollywood, we are constantly bombarded by images of “perfect” women. But those women don’t even look like that! Thanks to photo editing & airbrushing, our culture’s standards of beauty can be digitally, but falsely reached. Again, it’s all a lie. Our emotions are being manipulated & used so that we will buy something. Mascara, lipstick, body lotion, hair color. Our sense of self-worth is put into question, so we will sign up for the product that will fix & perfect our “flaws”. Our sexuality is demoralized & perverted because we’re supposed to be promiscuous if we want to be sexy. And for those of us who are married…we DO want to be sexy for our husbands! We want to be beautiful to the world & valued by our friends & family. So what’s a girl to do? Buy that mascara? Sign up for that diet program that will fix us? Or read those magazine so we can learn about all the things that are wrong with us? NO! NO! NO! Don’t let the world dictate what you will do with your body or how you should feel about it.
Romans 12:1-2 says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
I used to measure my value & beauty by how much food I could withhold from myself. Of course I couldn’t rationalize it then, but now I see it for the addiction, ugliness & bondage it was. My life felt out of control & I wanted to feel like I controlled something! Anything! If I could stay “disciplined” & eat very little, I was proving that I was beautiful & that I was worthy of love. I associated a completely empty, hurting stomach with skinniness…and skinniness with beauty. And if I could exercise every day for a couple hours, that was even better. I would have no energy & would start to black out during those workouts, but that was just part of the deal. “Beauty is pain”, right? Looking back now, I just want to run up to my younger-self, give her a huge hug & tell her how beautiful she was! She didn’t need to prove anything. She was enough. She was perfect just the was she was.
Even as a young child, I remember hearing hurtful comments from people & completely internalizing them. Those comments were said out of ignorance by people who had been hurt themselves, but my heart was injured nonetheless. On top of already feeling sub-par going into college, my obsession was almost encouraged by unhealthy relationships I had in my life. I was completely shattered one day when my friend & I were at the gym working out. She had recently discovered my obsession with food. I was working out with a large group of my guy friends, when she felt the need to walk over to me, lift her shirt to expose her defined, toned abs & say, “I’m getting so fat, Heather. Maybe I should just stop eating like you.” I felt embarrassed, angry & betrayed. It literally broke my heart. Looking back now, I have abundant compassion for her. I can see how she was just a hurt, insecure girl too. Her mom told her on a daily basis that she never did anything right, her hair wasn’t fixed nice enough, she didn’t accessorize her outfit correctly, her tan was fading so she needed to start tanning longer. The only thing she thought she could use in life, was her body too. Now, I see it. But I didn’t then. She & I weren’t that different after all. 
Thinking back, I don’t even know who I was. But Jesus did. I don’t bring up my past so that you feel sorry for me, or to blame others, or to even acknowledge the negative things. I bring it up as a testimony of where I came from & how I’ve been freed & restored. Those people aren’t my enemy. Satan is. Although the emotional bondage began at a young age & I’m still breaking free of some things, I thank Jesus with all my heart that I was only in physical bondage for a few years. I know some women stay imprisoned their entire lives. And although there are some things I always have to keep in check emotionally, I truly have been set free!
 
I Corinthians 6:19-20, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.Let Him change how you view yourself, your body, & your beauty. One of the biggest factors in my healing, was through support & godly counsel from women in my church. Please find someone that will keep you accountable & give you godly wisdom & advice. Local churches usually offer this service for free. If they don’t, they can point you in the right direction.
Take every unholy thought captive, dear friend. Once we do that, there will be less room for the enemy’s lies & more room for holy affirmations, compliments & refreshment in our hearts & minds. Let Him show you that you are the CROWN OF HIS CREATION.
 
This is one of my favorites. Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
I’ve walked through my desert of questioning my worth & beauty. But Jesus has made me into a beautiful, new creation. And I declare my God as faithful!