You're (Not) Amazing Just the Way You Are

2:09 PM

Let me be brutally honest: Girls, you are not amazing, wonderful, beautiful, and perfect in every way. That witty personality of yours? I bet you've used it to cut people down for your own entertainment. That breezy confidence you possess? Chances are you overlooked the more broken people hiding in the corners of life because of it. Acne probably sprinkles your face occasionally; maybe your fashion sense is a tad on the frumpy side; your hair isn't as awesome as you'd like it to be. Look in the mirror and be honest: No, you're not the epitome of objective beauty. Check your heart and be honest: No, you're not as wonderful and awesome as self-esteem boosters tell you.


It burdens me when more confident girls lie and tell you that you're as amazing and beautiful as all that. It burdens me, because we all know it's not true. Even the most perfect and flawless girl will secretly admit to things about herself that she dislikes, if not hates. And if there's one thing I've learned in all my nineteen years, it's this: lies breed insecurity. Some girls feel insecure because they tell themselves negative lies: you'll never, you aren't, you can't, people hate you. Some girls feel insecure because they tell themselves positive lies: you're perfect, you're wonderful, you can do anything, people love you.

The worst lies twist a sound theology of God into a self-absorbed, fluffy self-esteem message that bears no resemblance (much less reference) to the Gospel. "Don't worry! God looks at the heart, not the outer appearance." Do we realize what we're actually saying? "Don't worry! God doesn't pay any attention to your wrinkles and extra pinches of fat. He just focuses on your heart -- your disobedient, selfish, angry, bitter, unloving heart." How comforting. Or worse, "God loves you just the way you are." Because God loves all the sin that currently roots itself in your life? God's a fan of your tendency to lash out at your siblings? God loves to sit back and watch you stew in anger at your parents? God adores your insecurity? He laughs at your complaints and ingratitude? He planned the excruciating suffering of His beloved and only Son just so He could save you from -- nothing, because you're amazing just the way you are? 

How dare we encourage girls to look to themselves to be awed, amazed, and astounded by beauty and perfection! What blasphemy and ingratitude to the crushed God-Man on a cross, who bled for our salvation and sanctification, our change and our glorification, precisely because we're the way we are.

Peace, Bailey. I mean, girls can't go on in their insecurity, can they? They can't continue their cutting, anorexia, bulimia, self-hatred, and suicide attempts, right? How is telling them that they're not amazing and beautiful going to help anything? They already believe they're not amazing and beautiful. 

No, they don't believe that. If they truly believed they were not amazing and beautiful, they would be absolutely broken before God, begging Him to make them amazing and beautiful, because there is no diet, cream, emotion, friend, or self-help manual that can fix how ugly and terrible they are. 

This is not because I have no compassion for girls who struggle with insecurity. I have spent so many tears, hours, and words over girls hurting from being less-than, insecure, unwanted, ugly. I've been there myself. And I know that the positive lie of being-all-that doesn't cure it. Insecurity holds you back from experiencing grace because it tries to cling to the last shreds of self-love. 

But when girls go low and humble, when they admit they're not as beautiful and wonderful as they'd hoped, the truth, the confusing, awesome truth breaks in: Yes, you are not perfect. You are inherently flawed. You have sinned against Me and against your fellow man. But. (That glorious conjunction!) But I will wrap My arms of everlasting love around your unlovable frame. I will clothe you in a perfection you never had and never could achieve on your own. I will call you daughter, beloved, mine, redeemed, forgiven. I will remove your sin so that it never can accuse you. I will give you My Spirit to dwell in your selfish heart, and as Love Himself resides in your soul, you will melt and change and grow strong and sanctified, to the point where you can look at yourself and see Me in the reflection. Never again will you feel the need to be amazing and beautiful in your own right, for even when you see holiness and beauty in yourself, you will only be able to praise the God who redeemed you. 

Girls, your weight, your physical beauty, your personal style? It doesn't matter. The one time the New Testament mentions outer beauty, it's to encourage women to not concern themselves with their outside appearance but to concern themselves with letting the Spirit indwell them with all the meekness and quietness of a redeemed soul. Your goal is not to look in the mirror and lie flat out, "Gee, I'm so beautiful." Your goal is to look in the mirror and say, "Wow, my acne's flaring up today. My hair's really crazy. And those bags under my eyes -- impressive." And then walk away without any concern and insecurity. Your goal is not to list out all your wonderful qualities. It's to see your flaws, repent of them, and surrender those flaws to God so that you can see the progress of sanctification in the areas you never could improve on your own.

Grace doesn't lie. Grace doesn't tell you that you're beautiful when you're not. Grace exists because you're not beautiful and awesome. Grace accepts you the way you are only because it won't let you stay there. It equips you to fight and change, not grin happily at yourself. 

It's not about your beauty and awesomeness, anyway. Which is the most blessed thing ever. We'd all be doomed otherwise. Because I don't know about you, but I don't look my objective best without make-up. My personality stings and wounds as often as it brings joy. And if the goal was about me being objectively beautiful and awesome, I'd quit right now.

Thankfully, my personal awesomeness and beauty doesn't concern me at all anymore. There are too many other important things on my mind -- things that God actually cares about, that give eternal value. If your relationship with God revolves around boosting your self-esteem, looking good, and feeling beautiful, you're still at the bottom rung of Christianity. At the very bottom. I was there most of my life. It's a frustrating place to be stuck.

Be free. Stop caring. Stop lying to yourself. Get humble. Repent. Accept the grace of knowing that you're not amazing just the way you are -- and you don't have to be. 

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11 impressions

  1. Well, actually, I think you are. Amazing that is. Perfect? No, of course not. Physically beautiful by human standards? I'm not and while I might make the case that you are, looks and standards change and physical beauty is really in the eye of the beholder anyway.

    I agree with your points about lying to yourself and how it doesn't help insecurity because you know it is a lie and how we absolutely should not feel we have no need to change because we are already perfect anyway, but I don't think it is either helpful or accurate to think of ourselves as ugly and terrible.

    As a Christian you believe you were created by God correct? And while I understand the belief in the weakness of humanity and the need to rely on God's strength to improve oneself, it doesn't make sense to me that God would start with such awfulness. Each person is a creation of God and, while not perfect or anywhere near as good as she could become, I think that is pretty amazing already.

    Your line "wrap My arms of everlasting love around your unlovable frame" made me really sad. Your frame is NOT unlovable and never was. I think of my own daughter who is changing and growing inside and out every day. Is she flawed? Of course. But she is today, just like she was on the day she was born, amazing.

    Adele

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  2. Adele, I think we're looking at things from a different perspective. The point isn't to think of oneself as ugly and terrible, because that is self-absorbed too. (It's to not think of oneself at all, actually.) The point is not to see the good in our bodies or our personalities as terrible and ugly, either, for yes, we are creations of God, fearfully and wonderfully made. But that truth is supposed to point us to how awesome GOD is, not how awesome WE are.

    I don't consider myself lovable. ;) I know myself better than you do. I've reaped the bitter fruits of how I grate on other people; I've seen all the grossness of my soul; and there is no way I can see myself as INHERENTLY (i.e. in my own right) beautiful or amazing, because I'm not. So when people try to encourage me along the lines of, "But you're so great, or this part of you is so awesome," it backfires: "So what? That's the problem. The yuck, the sin, the trait that keeps getting me into trouble, THAT'S the problem, and no, it's NOT awesome." So no, I don't consider myself lovable, but oh, how I am well-loved and feel that love every moment.

    I'm no longer a chronically insecure person, because I don't see my successes as my own successes or my weaknesses as irredeemable. Because the point isn't about me. It's about Jesus.

    I hope that clarifies some things, even if we still disagree in the end. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I appreciate them.

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  3. I guess to sum it up more clearly (hopefully): be honest. Call sin out as sin. Call less-than-amazing as less-than-amazing. Call good out as good, but let the worshiping and awe go to God, not to yourself. Be so beyond yourself that you can look in the mirror and see both the good and the bad without getting conceited or insecure. And to get beyond oneself means that you must focus on Someone Else -- namely God.

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  4. I think I see what you are getting at, and I really appreciate your thoughtful response to my comment, but it still makes me sad that you don't consider yourself lovable. ;-)

    Adele

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  5. Don't worry...plenty of other people consider me lovable, so it's all good. ;)

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  6. "...to the point where you can look at yourself and see Me in the reflection."

    Beautifully put. Good stuff.

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  7. Wow, Bailey...this is good. I heard a person once say, "If you think well of youself, or think horribly of yourself, you're still thinking of YOURSELF." How much better to rest in Jesus, and be so enraptured with Him that nothing else matters. Something I fall short of to be sure.

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  8. This is truth. Thank you for speaking this so boldly in a day filled with so many other messages; some filled with self-esteemed fluff, others filled with false hope and no Biblical accuracy.

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  9. Wow. THIS. This is great stuff, and I think a lot of people need to hear this.

    It reminds me of the verse: "Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be blessed."

    I agree with what the other commenter was getting at when she said, "The point isn't to think of oneself as ugly and terrible, because that is self-absorbed too." But I didn't at all think that was what you were trying to say...I just took your post to mean that we need to remember that we are not, and never will be on this earth, perfectly beautiful and flawless, both in outward appearance and on the inside.

    Thanks for this post!

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  10. Yes, true, accurate. In this world of 'it's all about me' self esteem mumbo jumbo, we need to be told this stuff. Straight forward and true. We need Christ!

    However, having grown up with these reminders coming from all quarters, I would venture to say that there is danger in the pendulum swinging too far the other way. Sometimes I need to be reminded that in spite of my struggling, striving and ceaseless sanctification (that can ultimately only be accomplished by His power and grace at work and through my submitting to His direction and leading) He loves me. And I need to be reminded that, as Psalm 103:14 comfortingly puts it 'He knows what we are made of, He remembers that we are dust'.

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  11. Hi there,

    I just recently came across your blog through another blogger's list of blogs she follows (sorry for the multiple uses of the word 'blog' there haha) and read the first post on your page, of course. You had some interesting and, albeit, good points. But there were a couple that I disagree on - but it may just be because you wrote it in such a way that wasn't clear. Anyway, for the points that WERE clear, nice job:)

    Blessings,
    ~Raquel
    www.God-sDaughter.blogspot.com

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