Seeing Ourselves as God Sees Us
For many years, I struggled to believe that God had a perfect design for me. As I got older, I became increasingly uncomfortable with my changing body. I was an Italian girl growing up in Australia, where most of the girls were blonde and blue-eyed. For some reason, those features were prettier to me. I had thick, curly black hair that, when I let it out, looked like Diana Ross and all the Supremes put together. Combing out those tangles was a nightmare. I used to stare at the mirror and tell myself how ugly I was and pull my hair out from the roots to punish myself.
I remember wishing someone would break my nose so I would have an excuse to have a rhinoplasty. I was already feeling awkward in my preteen body, but to add insult to injury, my mum would often say, “Be careful not to eat too much; it will make you large and unattractive.” Wow! Just like that, Satan’s lie began to stain my mind. I vowed to never let myself get big, because I was convinced I would be unacceptable and unlovable if I did.
I believed Satan’s lie. He said if I could make the outside of my body perfect, then I would be acceptable to those around me. Preoccupied with how perfect my body needed to be, I became obsessed with what I ate and how I could reverse what I had just eaten. For years, I struggled with my body image. There were times I would be in conversation with people and look as if I were listening, when in fact, I was mentally calculating calories and planning a new strategy of starvation. The thinner I was, the more affirmation I received from those around me. I became addicted to the verbal affirmation about my outward appearance, which fueled the eating disorder that dictated my life. I was so starved for affirmation and validation that I starved my physical body to obtain what I thought would bring me joy. But it was exhausting and never brought me the security I was longing for.
Why do we try to reach an unattainable goal of outward perfection? Because somewhere along the way, we have bought into Satan’s lie that our bodies are flawed and that in order to be loved, we need to make our bodies look perfect. Plastic surgeons are laughing all the way to the bank because of this very lie. Many people are unhappy with their exterior and truly believe if they can look a certain way, then they will be fulfilled.
During those years I certainly was not happy with my design. I had a long list of issues with how God made me. I thought my design was flawed and wondered why God made me unattractive and other girls beautiful. I was so focused on the exterior that I missed the fact that God had tailor-made me from the inside out — and that what He made was very good. He doesn’t make mistakes.
God designed me to be unique from the other girls, not to conform to the one-size-fits-all ideal that Satan tries to deceive us into thinking we must achieve. However, all I cared about was what I was supposed to look like according to what the girls in my classroom and the magazines said I should look like. It made perfect sense in my mind that if I somehow achieved physical beauty on the outside, then my life would automatically be beautiful on the inside and all my problems would dissolve.
What I didn’t realize while growing up was that I was broken and bruised on the inside — which was why I felt so ugly on the outside. Until I came to the realization that God needed to come into my heart and fix what was broken, I was continually chasing a false reality of outward perfection.
So for years, I struggled with rejection and body image issues. I rationalized and justified my behavior, unwilling to admit what was really going on. I hid behind lies and excuses for my eating disorder because I was afraid that if I shared the truth with anyone, they would reject and judge me. I couldn’t bear the possibility of being rejected again. I lived in constant turmoil. I tried in my own way to be free, but I couldn’t seem to gain freedom in the areas of body image and acceptance. I would stare at myself in the mirror, spewing words over myself: “You’re disgusting.” “You’re fat.” “How can anyone even stand to look at you?” On and on went the verbal abuse.
My heart was so wounded by the words that had been spoken over me as a child that I continually reinforced every word about how ugly I was. I put on a fantastic façade, one that could have earned me an Oscar. I convinced everyone around me that I was free when I really wasn’t.
The Beauty of Our Spirits
Are you striving for beauty, the way I was for so many years? Know that the content of your heart is the true source of beauty, and that beauty can only come when we love ourselves and are comfortable in our own skin. When we understand what our Designer says about us and how He truly sees us, then the rest will fall into place. We need to teach our children how to realize the unique beauty they possess.
Beauty has nothing to do with makeup or hairstyles, but it has everything to do with your spirit and the content of your heart.
First Peter 3:3-4 says:
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
A gentle and quiet spirit describes a person who is humble, unpretentious, and unassuming. It is a person who shows kindness and love, putting aside selfish interests for the good of others. The inner beauty that the Bible describes comes from understanding that God, the Creator of the universe, carefully designed you and put you together. He did not just throw you together as an afterthought. You were meticulously designed by a Master Tailor who had very specific intention in the details of your design.
Our beauty resides inside our spirits; therefore, it doesn’t matter how old we are because our true beauty will never fade. Our spirits are ageless. When your spirit is connected to God’s spirit, your beauty is most visible.
Your spirit is what makes you a unique person. You can see this clearly if you watch someone pass away, as I experienced when my dad went to Heaven. After my dad took his last breath, I stood next to him and couldn’t believe how different he looked from a moment ago when he was still breathing. I realized that it was my dad’s spirit that made him who he was. His body was just a temporary suit that he wore while on earth. His spirit is present in Heaven right now, and that is what matters the most. Our spirits are what we take with us.
We spend far too much time trying to perfect our outward shells instead of getting to know how to develop our spirits, which is what makes a person truly beautiful. The Bible tells us in Galatians 5:22-23 that the fruit of God’s Spirit is “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” When we demonstrate this fruit in our spirits, then the essence of God’s beauty shines through us. This kind of beauty is undeniable and never fading — the definition of true beauty.
Excerpted with permission from Tailor Made by Alex Seeley, copyright Alex Seeley.
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Are you happy with your design? Or do you think abusive thoughts toward yourself about your body? What if today you forgave God and yourself for your physical “flaws” and instead focused on developing your spirit? What might change? Come share with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily