Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Women are bombarded every day with different ideals of beauty. We are told that sexy is a thin girl in her (overpriced) underwear walking down a runway with fake angel wings. We are told that you must have a certain bra size, waist size, hip size, a thigh gap, ribs that can be noticed when you stretch, collar bones peeking through…you get it. We are told that if you don’t belong in the last two sentences, that you better have a pretty face. You should get your eyebrows done, have perfect skin, take at least 45 minutes to do all of your makeup, have long nails, long hair, long legs…you get it. You also have exude confidence, even on your worst days. Even when you’re told that you’re not sexy, you’ll never be sexy, so you should settle for cute but chubby.

Guys have it too. If a man doesn’t have a chiseled jaw line, broad shoulders, six-pack (or more) abs, thick muscles in his arms and legs, that “V” line on his  hips…. I swear I already see the girls nodding and picturing this hunk…you get it though. If a guy isn’t that, he isn’t lusted after either. Guys are told that they have to work out a lot to be attractive, even if they’ll never obtain the Hollywood body. He has to be funny, smart, not too nerdy and obsessed with video games. He also has to have a good job that pays well and makes you proud to be with him.

You might like a guy or a girl who isn’t those things. And if you do, great! You might be married to him or her. But you can’t help but carry the baggage of feeling like you don’t measure up to society’s standards. Or they carry the baggage and the weight of it in your relationship and it is really starting to do damage.

In high school I hated looking at myself in the mirror. I was so critical of every mark on my face, every ounce of fat, every hair out-of-place. Every girl I knew was the same way. And we sought attention, no, we sought confirmation of our value from guys. If a football player stared at us for a second we immediately tried to get more of his attention. If a “scene” kid was interested in us, we became “scene.” We wore tight clothes, revealing clothes, heavy makeup, whatever it took. We molded ourselves to whatever we thought others wanted us to be. We did whatever it took, or almost whatever it took. Some people died to achieve society’s standards. Some people felt so alone, so rejected because nothing they did to feel beautiful worked, so they ended their life or attempted to. Maybe that was someone you knew, maybe that was you.

I have carried this baggage, these heartbreaking issues, for a long time. My soul has felt so heavy, my whole body ached for relief. It wasn’t until I was worn out from trying to mold myself for someone else that I read this verse with the right mindset:

For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.

Psalm 139:13-14, NKJV

He formed me. He covered me. He placed every hair, every birthmark, every nail, every muscle, and more. He didn’t do those things on accident–He did this meticulous work on me because he wanted me this way. I don’t have to try to mold myself to be anyone or anything else. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying we can’t color our hair (I do it all the time) or have piercings, or get tattoos. That’s up to you. I’m saying we need to take pride in ourselves, in who we are at this moment in time.

Do you feel overweight? Work out to take care of the body God gave you, not out of obligation to some superficial standard. Give me some workout ideas! I want to join you. Do you like putting make up on because it makes you feel beautiful or because you want to accentuate the beauty you already have? Go on and highlight those cheeks, line your lips, add some fierce wings. Tag me in your Instagram photo @anamercy . Getting a tattoo? Are you doing it to hide something or because you’re proud of something? Show me your favorite ink, tell me the story behind it. Putting crazy colors in your hair? Are you doing it because you want to cover up your mousey-brown hair or because you love purple and think it’s fun?  Send me pictures, tag me, I want inspiration.  Whatever you do to yourself, do it because you love yourself, not because you think it’s what society youareneededwould want.

Our beauty isn’t determined by what others think of us. Our beauty was predetermined by the one who looks at you with pride–the one who loved every inch of you while you were safe inside your mother’s womb. I look in the mirror now and smile at myself. When those thoughts of doubt, of low self-worth come creeping in, I stop them by remembering that God created me in His own image (Gen. 1:27), and that He loves me just the way I am. He loves you too.

Father,

Thank You for creating me. Thank You for my smile, my eyes, my ears, my nose. I thank You for the things I once wanted to change. You know how hard I’ve been on myself. You know the tears I’ve cried over wishing some part of me was what society said was beautiful. I know now that You find me exquisite. I know that You look at me with love and with adoration, the kind that Hollywood says I should search for in some guy. I know You place so much more value on me than I place on myself. I know You hurt when I don’t love how You made me. I strive to keep Your Word in my heart and on my mind. 

God, thank You for making me wonderful and marvelous. Amen!

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Are Christian and Christianity Just Words?

 

The other day I was asked what the word Christian means. And it stopped me for a second before I was able to respond. A Christian is “simply” someone who believes  God sent His only begotten Son to earth, so that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. A Christian believes  God’s Son’s name is Jesus. A Christian believes  Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life. That Jesus then took the punishment we deserve because He loves us that much. That three days later, He was resurrected and told us that it was our turn to step up. That we should share what He did. And because of what He did, we have the ability to have an unbelievable relationship with God. That is Christianity.

I then heard “so everyone who says they’re a Christian believes that?”
And the answer was no. Some people say they are a Christian just get people off of their backs about religion. Some people say it because they want to have something in common with other people. Some people say it but don’t understand what it all means.
Then, there are some people who are afraid to say it. They are afraid of being lumped in with people who are bigots, sexist, racist, and more. They are afraid of this perceived notion of what Christianity is, of who Christians are. Or, they might not feel that they are a good enough person to call themselves a Christian. We have this notion that we need to clean up our act before God will consider liking us.

Being a Christian doesn’t automatically make you a good person. Actually, there is no true “good” person anymore. The one good person who lived and breathed on earth was Jesus. So stop putting people on pedestals because we will all eventually fall off, and you will be the one hurting more for believing in people instead of Christ. You could technically be a horrible person and God will still love you as much as He loves  Mother Teresa. You could technically believe in Christ and go to heaven but still be a mean, greedy, selfish person. There are no strings attached to salvation.

However, when you truly believe in the sacrifice Jesus made, it changes your heart. The love and hope that God provides settles into the cracks of your soul and heals it. It’s not a forced change. God doesn’t want to force you to do anything. But, when you are feeling that good, it’s hard to hide it from other people. It’s hard to want to keep it to yourself. When God is working in your heart, you will notice the hurting happening in the world. You will want to help. God will guide you to where people are if you are open to it. He won’t force you to though.

That sting in your heart, the ache in your belly when you see something horrible happening, that is God. That fire inside of you, wanting people to unify and act out against horrible occurrences, that is God. God loves you as much as He loves the people who hurt you. God loves the victim as much as He loves the culprit. When you do something wrong, that small twinge of guilt in your head or your heart is His heart breaking for you and the person you wronged. I believe it’s the hardest part about Christianity, about being a Christian. You don’t get loved more than anyone…but you also don’t get loved any less.

 I still can’t listen to how Jesus was crucified without crying. Without feeling the weight of my sins being nailed into Him. Without feeling the breathtaking release of knowing that I’m forgiven because of it. I still struggle with feeling worthy of such amazing love. Christ loves us fiercely. He is waiting with open arms for us to turn to Him and accept His love. His heart breaks for every extra second it takes. And the most amazing thing is that He doesn’t want anything from us. He doesn’t want us to clean up our act before we ask for help. He doesn’t want us to hide anything. After you come to Him your slate is wiped clean. Your purity is restored. Your addictions are broken. Your healed.

That is what being a Christian is. It’s knowing you’re a mess but trusting Christ to clean it up for you and guide you to your next step. It’s beautiful. And telling other people about being a Christian is Christianity. It’s letting them know that they don’t have to feel alone, be afraid, or stay on the pedestal.

Lord,

If anyone is curious about You, I ask that they open their hearts and thoughts to You. I pray that they accept the love, peace, and understanding that only You can give. Lord, I ask for your healing on everyone who is hurting. I ask that You continue to place them in my life, that I can continue to spread Your love to everyone I can. I know that I’m just one person, and that I constantly ask You for things. I know that I sin every day and to people watching I am not the best Christian. I thank You for Your mercy, for Your sacrifice. I am so grateful that You love me more than I could ever imagine. And I’m so thankful that You love us all the same.