Monday, November 3, 2014

I'm Beautiful, and So Are You.

My whole life I’ve lived with this idea that I’m not allowed to believe I’m beautiful, that I must always point out a flaw I see in myself. I’m not exactly sure where that all began, but it’s a pervasive thought in our culture today. We have this concept of what beautiful “should” look like, and somehow we’re never able to attain it. That doesn’t mean we don’t try - we try as hard as we can to live up to this unattainable standard, but as hard as we work at it, we always convince ourselves that we’re just not good enough.

Why is that? Why are we so set on believing the worst about ourselves (and sometimes the worst about others) because of this imaginary standard of beauty? Why is it not okay to view ourselves as beautiful simply because we are God’s creation? It makes me cringe when I hear women critiquing their looks - whether it’s their body (too fat or too skinny), skin tone, face, hair, etc. Let me be clear - I’m not perfect at this either. I often find myself critiquing my looks in the mirror and telling my husband that I’ve gained weight, that I hate the bump in my nose, and that I’m too short. He always has to stop, look me straight in the eye and tell me, “Bethany, you’re beautiful.”

I’ve been told by others in the past that it’s not okay to view ourselves as beautiful because that could lead to narcissism, and we don’t want people to think we have big egos. But what if God wanted us to see ourselves the way he sees us? Do I really think that my Creator, the God of the universe, is judging my looks and thinking he made mistakes? Absolutely not. Our whole concept of beauty has come from society and media. As imperfect beings, we like to judge one another. We like to say, “Well, at least I’m prettier than her,” or “At least I’m skinnier than her.” If we don’t do that, we usually say, “I’ll never be as pretty as her,” or “I’ll never be as tan as her.” We are so mean to ourselves.

For the last 6 months or so, I’ve started doing yoga. I did it on my own for a while, but recently I’ve been going to classes with a couple friends. One of the instructors told us, “Be kind to yourself. Be your own sweetheart.” Why do we have to be harsh with ourselves? Why is it okay and accepted for us to constantly tell ourselves (and sometimes others) that we’re not and never will be good enough? Who is that helping? We may sometimes see that attitude in ourselves as humility, but it’s not. It’s false humility, because instead of being confident in who we are yet not boasting about it, we say unkind things about ourselves. When we do those sort of things, I firmly believe it deeply saddens our Creator. He made us to be completely unique, and yet we’re telling him, “God, you messed up.”

I will echo what my yoga instructor told us - Be kind to yourself. Be your own sweetheart. Love yourself - if we don’t learn how to love and accept ourselves, we’ll find it almost impossible to love and accept those around us. If we throw off the yoke of media and social pressure, we’ll find it much easier to be content and comfortable with who God made us to be. You weren’t a mistake, and neither was anyone else. God didn’t mess up with you, nor did he mess up with anyone else. He loves you perfectly right in this moment, exactly as you are. He’s not going to love you more in the future, and he didn’t love you less in the past. He simply loves you just the way he made you.

I'm beautiful, and so are you.

Psalm 139:13-16

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them.”

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