Low self-esteem is certainly difficult for the individual who suffers from it but may be even more difficult for those who are friends or family of the individual. I can recall the many times feeling frustrated as I listened to friends desperately fish for compliments but deny it when I call them out on it. I recognized low self-esteem as being a huge struggle for everyone who hasn’t found their identity in Christ. The most beautiful and the most handsome still have a list of things that they hate about themselves. The most financially stable and the most intelligent still find something that just isn’t up to par. But guess what? The blood of Jesus was shed to bridge the gap between our deficiencies and His perfection.
I saw the commercial above about a month and a half ago and it did not sit well with me at all. I actually couldn’t watch it after the first time but I didn’t understand why. I don’t know Jennifer Hudson and I have never stepped foot in a Weight Watchers a day in my life. I tried to make sense of what made me uncomfortable but I gave it some days for God to reveal it to me.
I am not saying that Jennifer hates herself but that is what the commercial stirred in me. There is a spirit of self-hatred that thrived on the unrealistic pressures society presents in the media and rested on the spiritual ignorance for majority of my life. But how could I have self hate? I have everything I could ask for. How could I not believe that I was beautiful? People offer compliments all of the time. They couldn’t be lying could they? I mean guys think I am attractive and growing up I was apart of the “pretty girls” crew. What more confirmation did I need?
Regardless of what people told me, I knew that I had self-hatred and I thank God for telling me why.
The answer is that beauty cannot be defined by this world! The world recognizes the outside of the cup while the Lord knows the heart hidden inside. As long as the inside of my cup was empty and tainted with sin I was very ugly and in that state I was rejected by God. Although consciously I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t see myself as being beautiful like others did, spiritually it made so much sense.
People try to compensate. Just like rejection (or any other void), people go about coping with low-esteem in different ways. There are people who are arrogant and egotistic, trying to convince not others, but themselves that they are great and attractive. Then there are people, similar to the route I took, who believe the lies of the enemy and become confused about whether they are attractive or not but decide to believe the most negative option.
I was talking with my mother-in-Christ this past summer and I was asking her what makes a woman virtuous. I had already read Proverbs 31 but I wanted to know what attributes she should have. Is she graceful? Beautiful? Charming? Intelligent? Is she thin? Is she tall? Does she have black hair? But more importantly, I wanted to know HOW she got them because honestly…I didn’t want to go another day without them. I was tired of trying to believe the compliments of others and knowing deep down that although I desperately wanted to believe them, I just couldn’t. I knew there had to be an answer and I knew that Christ was the foundation of it.
My mother-in-Christ basically led me back to the Bible, defining beauty the way Christ does. That made sense but those attributes seemed so distant and unrealistic for 2011. “Women don’t work the way the Proverbs 31 woman works,” I thought to myself. How would I prove to be beautiful in that way? There are no fields near me. Again, trying to understand spiritual things with a carnal mind.
So a few days ago I looked at myself in the mirror getting ready for school as usual. But I stopped as I looked at someone who looked like me but with something a little extra, with beauty. This may sound a little weird but I stood there trying to figure out what had changed. Moles still in the same place? Check. Nose the same size? Check. A few freckles still resting under my eyes? Check. Eyes still brown? Check. Lips still above chin? Check. I couldn’t figure out what was different about the person I see most, me. God began to help me make sense of things when He told me that what He was doing on the inside of my cup was pouring outside. For the first time I saw myself as beautiful, pure, and spiritually alive. Believe me, you can look at the face of an individual and see spiritual life or death. It isn’t even that I am beautiful but the beauty of Christ dwells within me. And that is the magnificent thing in all of this. Again, less of us and more of Him.
Take time to read some of the verses about attractiveness stated by the Word of God.
Proverbs 19:13 (ESV) “A foolish son is ruin to his father, and a wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain.”
Proverbs 21:9 (ESV) “It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.”
Proverbs 21:19 (ESV) “It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman.”
Proverbs 31:10 (ESV) “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.”
Faithful & Trustworthy
1 Timothy 3:11 (ESV) “Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.”
Gracious & Honorable
Proverbs 12:4 (ESV) “A gracious woman gets honor, and violent men get riches.”
Genesis 2:18, 22-24 (ESV) “Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” … And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
Kindhearted & Generous
Proverbs 31:20-21 (ESV) “She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet.”
Proverbs 31:26 (ESV) “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”
Submissive & Respectful
1 Corinthians 11:3 (ESV) “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”
Ephesians 5:22-23, 33 (ESV) “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior… However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
Colossians 3:18 (ESV) “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. “
Titus 2:2-5 (ESV)“Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. “
1 Peter 3:1-2 (ESV) “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.”
Proverbs 14:1 (ESV) “The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.”
Beautiful Women in the Bible
Genesis 24:16 (ESV) “The young woman was very attractive in appearance, a maiden whom no man had known. She went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up.”
Ruth 1:16-17 (ESV) “But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”
Esther 2:7 (ESV) “He was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, the daughter of his uncle, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter.“
Song of Solomon 4:1 (ESV) “Behold, you are beautiful, my love, behold, you are beautiful! Your eyes are doves behind your veil. Your hair is like a flock of goats leaping down the slopes of Gilead.”
To be beautiful is to be a fervent servant of Christ. It makes sense to me now and basically, to be attractive to God is to be unattractive to the world. As I continue to look at myself in the mirror, in awe of the “new-found” beauty, I am prepared to be viewed as less attractive to the world. I never understood why people loved my prom and high school graduation pictures so much because although I was attractive to the world, I was empty from His Spirit and full with low self-esteem. It takes the discernment of God for someone to recognize His beauty. Even for males who may be reading this, the beauty of God isn’t only limited to women. Men too should desire to be made beautiful or handsome, whichever you prefer, in the eyes of God. And the key to that is not being muscular enough, thin enough, dark enough, light enough, tall enough, having the best hair texture, having the most beautiful smile, having the most fashionable clothes, or even being the most outgoing. Being a servant of God while He makes you His bride without spot or blemish will allow His beauty to shine through you. If the inside of the cup is attractive, the outside will be a reflection of that. So for all of those who feel unattractive, allow God to carve your beauty as only His eye can identify such virtue. The world can only identify lust.
I can’t speak for anyone else but I find it so cool to finally see myself as being genuinely beautiful. Of course I still have to allow God to remove the lies embedded in my mind for so long but this is a start. Physical attractiveness wasn’t fulfilling the confidence I needed so I began to seek more. I was looking for something that God so desperately wanted to give me. It is really that simple. For the past 20 years I looked into a mirror and saw someone who may be physically attractive but who was certainly spiritually repulsive. Thank God for His amazing sculpting skills.
I have found beauty… in Him, at last.