A critical self image steals joy. While we know God created and loves us, it can be hard to view ourselves like Him. Does what you see match what God sees?
Standing in front of a mirror, all I saw was clothes that didn’t fit. Sighing, I wished I had something new to wear for family photos.
The image I saw mirrored my own self image, not just my outward appearance:
- A wife who still forgets her husband sees her as beautiful, despite his words and compliments
- A tired mother, wishing she could have slept later than the baby who woke at 430 am
- A mother of two whose body is different than it used to be
- A woman who doesn’t spend time to get ready or to reflect on how she sees herself most days
Extra Time With The Mirror
Normally, I manage to put on mascara, face lotion containing sunscreen, and a little powder before a child needs something. On that particular morning in June, my husband was graciously taking care of the kids so I could spend a little more time getting ready.
But those added moments staring in the mirror weren’t doing me any favors. I was certainly NOT feeling pretty, no matter how many times I changed my clothes or makeup.
Instead, I was doing something very unproductive; sinking into the pit of self-loathing. I was annoyed with myself and my lack of exercise and healthy eating. Furthermore, I didn’t want to accept the truth; my body is simply different than it used to be.
Entertaining A Critical Self Image
I’m sad to admit that this problem didn’t start that day. No, it was bigger. This moment didn’t just spring up out of nowhere, it was several weeks in the making.
During the weeks before our trip, I searched my closet and several stores for the perfect outfit. I was supposed to wear something navy, white, and/or khaki. Sounds simple, right? I had 3 tops, and own 2 pairs of white pants and several pairs of khakis.
These clothes are all in ‘new’ condition, but were all purchased before our second child (some before our first). I like them, but frankly, I felt like they didn’t like me! They no longer fit as they did when they were purchased. Can you relate? It seems to be a common problem for moms. It’s also the reason reason why I wear the same outfits over and over despite having a full closet.
After finding new clothes also didn’t fit as desired, I decided it was a problem with me. I did what any logical woman would do and resorted to wearing Spanx under my pants. You know, to just make something I had ‘WORK’.
Uncomfortable In More Ways Than One
As I stared into the mirror in June, I was squeezed into spanx, which if you’ve worn them, you know are simply not physically comfortable. All this in an effort to ‘feel‘ comfortable in my skin.
I thought this strategy would give me peace of mind so I could relax during photos.
Right. Relax in Spanx. Ha.
I could hardly breathe. At least I wasn’t having to focus so hard on sucking in my stomach?
That was my frame of mind as I coated my hair with hairspray to make it ‘stay down.’ And put on more makeup than usual in a weak attempt to cover my perceived tired eyes with mascara and concealer. As I applied mascara, my eyes caught words written at the top of the mirror in black marker.
Convicting and Encouraging Words
“What do you see? What does God see? Do they match?”What do you see? What does God See? Do they match? #selfimage #selftalk #faith #truth Click To Tweet
Immediately, I felt the pang of conviction and mixed emotions. First, remorse that I had yet again forgotten this truth. And, at that same moment, I was overjoyed by the remembrance that God sees me as useful, beautiful, and of eternal value.
I can’t take credit for those words. You see, I was getting ready in my niece’s childhood bedroom. We were staying at her parent’s home. She is an amazing woman, niece and friend. They’re her words to encourage herself, and now, me.
As I pondered the words, our son and daughter tumbled into the room. Soon, my husband tried to rally them for a bath and to get ready. They both had wicked bed head and mismatched pajamas.
Still wrestling with mixed emotions, their eyes sparkled with joy. Watching them, my response brought sudden clarity to my own thoughts.
If I see my children as such beautiful, amazing, and earth shattering little people, how much MORE does the Lord see in me and in them?If I see my children as such beautiful, amazing, and earth shattering little people, how much MORE does the Lord see in me and in them? #selfimage #howGodseesme #faith Click To Tweet
He made us. Every detail. With loving care we can’t even imagine.
If you’ve given birth, you know that a tiny baby can only be made by a loving creator. They are too perfect. Tiny toes, fingers and noses. These children are EXACTLY as God made them, and their days and birth were all ordained beforehand by Him.
All these thoughts remained with me as I finished getting ready.
I put on a necklace and forgot to care what I looked like to the world and was just glad the necklace was a great distraction for my daughter to play with.
Who We Are
Because of truthful words on that mirror, I was just me. As I was that day; wife, mother, woman, and child of God. And that is who you are too. How do you view yourself?
God doesn’t make mistakes. Regardless of how we want to look or think we should look, the reality is, we are made in God’s image. We are beautiful, not because of how our clothes fit, how well our hair is styled, or how physically fit we are. We are beautiful because God made and loves us.
So why is it so hard to learn? If we want to cement this truth into our hearts, we need to stay close to the One who is the source of truth. By abiding in Christ; reading His Word, sitting in His presence and in prayer.
A New Perspective
We had fun taking pictures. There was much laughter, play and joy. My daughter had one outburst of tears, but that is expected from a 1-year-old. Everyone was relaxed and after taking some posed pictures, the entire family went down to the beach to wander and let the kids play.
Had I not seen those words, I wouldn’t have relaxed or stopped worrying and criticizing myself. In doing so,I would have missed out on having fun while preoccupied with my own perceived inadequacy.
Instead, I spent the day with a refreshed view of how God sees me, reinforced by how I see my own children.
Here’s one photo from the day that thankfully doesn’t look like I am slathered in makeup and fully doused in hairspray.
Not long after returning home, I came across this passage, and was reminded of that moment.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?… 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? … 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ … 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.Matthew 6:25-26, 28, 31, 33-4 (RSV, empahsis added)
The next time you struggle with your body, clothes, hair, or skin, remember to check if your self-image reflects that of your maker.
What do you see?
What does God see?
Do they match?
When we know our true identity is defined through God’s eyes, self-critical thoughts are seen as what they are.
If you don’t know who God says you are, will you commit today to make time to find out?
This question will be written on our daughters’ mirrors when they are old enough to have one in their rooms.
And since this experience clearly demonstrates my own struggle with identity, it needs to be on mine as well.When we know our true identity is defined through God's eyes, self-critical thoughts are seen as what they are. Lies. #selftalk #selfimage #faith Click To Tweet
Why God Thinks You’re Beautiful, Valerie Murray
32 Verses for Women Affirming Beauty, Value & A Beloved Identity in Christ, Kelly Balarie, Purposeful Faith
What the Bible Says About Beauty and Appearance, Vicky Courtney, Focus on the Family
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