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.