Last week I wrote a post about body image. It quickly became my most viewed post so far this year (possibly of all-time, but I only installed statistics software in March!). Clearly this is still a hugely sensitive issue for many of you, so I’d like to offer some further encouragement today.
It hurts when people say negative things about our appearance. Most of us have been wounded by the words of another, with regards to how we look. I’ve been called fat, ugly, short (despite being almost 5’7”!), skinny (not as a compliment), etc. But I’ve also been told I am beautiful, tall, have a great figure, etc. Whose assessment is correct? (That’s a rhetorical question – I’m not fishing for compliments!) Clearly other people’s opinions are not a good indicator of the truth, since they often contradict each other.
I think that when our identity is built on Christ alone, we will be set free from the need for others to find us physically attractive. Insecurity is what prompts us to seek validation from other people, and insecurity is essentially a kind of identity crisis. When we build our identity on anything other than Christ, we will feel insecure, and the opinions others will have a massive impact on how we view ourselves.
So how do we find our identity in Christ?
Learn the truth about who God says we are. In Christ, we are saved, we are children of God, we are loved, we are forgiven, we are precious, we are righteous (not because of anything we do, but because God has imparted His righteousness to us as a free gift).
Do what is spiritually beneficial. Having an affair with someone because they tell you you’re beautiful when your husband doesn’t is NOT going to make you feel more secure in the long-run. It is spiritually detrimental and will just feed your desire to be validated without addressing the spiritual deficit at the root of that need. This is just one example of something that would be non-beneficial, but there are many other things that might appear to be helpful but that actually make the problem worse. Doing what IS spiritually beneficial (worshipping and building a relationship with Jesus, praying, getting to know God’s word, practicing forgiveness, exercising love towards others, etc.) will have the opposite effect, and will reaffirm your identity in Christ.
Do the will of God. Jesus said that our new commandment is to love one another. I think that in many cases, God’s will can be ascertained by determining what is the most loving course of action. Doing the will of God will help deepen our relationship with Him, and a deep relationship with God is the best antidote to insecurity. Of course, we should want to build a relationship with Him because of who He is, rather than because it’ll make us feel better about ourselves. But fewer insecurities is an almost-guaranteed side-effect, as the opinions of others seem pretty insignificant in light of God’s love for us.
I’m not saying that those who still struggle with insecurities are spiritually inferior. Learning to walk in absolute freedom is an ongoing process, and I don’t know if anyone has ever reached the point of being 100% secure and immune to the opinions of others! I think it comes down to this: when I realise that I cannot be or do good without Christ, I realise that building an identity around anything other than Him is only going to lead to me being disappointed in myself. That disappointment can manifest in many different areas of life. But physical appearance seems to be a big one for many, many women (and a lot of men, too!).
So, maybe I’m ugly, maybe I’m beautiful. But maybe it doesn’t matter. It has no bearing on who I am, and it absolutely does not change how God views me. He looks at me through the lens of Christ’s sacrifice, and thus nothing I can do could make Him love me less or more. As I’ve said before, His love is complete.
Photo courtesy of KaitlynKalon