Short, fat, tall, thin.I look in the mirror and a thousand voices echo in my head.This is too big, that’s not big enough.My inner critic is relentless and harsh.Images swirl through my mind’s eye.Bone-thin models and beautiful actresses and singers.Every one of them telling me the same thing.You don’t measure up.

Then the if onlys start in.
If only I was thinner.

If only I my hair had more body.
If only I was a little taller.
If only I was shorter.
If only I was more petite.
If only my teeth were whiter.
If only my eyelashes were thicker.
If only…if only…if only…if only…

Don’t you ever wish there was some kind of physical Christmas where we could get “presents” in the form of changes to our bodies?5 pounds knocked off here…blonde hair or blue eyes thrown in over there.How about an amazing natural tan that never wore off in the winter?Maybe that’s what God will give me from my physical wish list next time around!

How God must sigh to hear his beloved children fret so.I sometimes wonder if He longs to break those mirrors and shred our silly fashion magazines.Trust Me!I can hear Him saying.I designed you in your mother’s womb…every pore of your being crafted according to my flawless blueprint.You are Mine and I love you. You are my child and you are beautiful.

And yet we listen to the carnal voices, and allow empty words to drown out this ageless love.In 1665, an English pamphlet recommended that women “bleed” themselves drastically (from their right arm in the spring and left arm in the autumn) to maintain slimness.So often my friends and I have gasped in shock over these and other weird horror stories.How could women wear corsets so tight they fainted?Or Chinese women up until the 1940’s bind their feet until they turned into tiny little hoofs, in accord with their culture’s definition of beauty?Who would do something so restricting and destructive to themselves?

And yet we are the same way. Are we blind to our own failings?When I think of the number of times I’ve skipped meals or stayed up late to work out, I see that I am no better. The question is –how can we be so afraid of ugliness that we would torture our bodies in order to match the latest societal norm?The mirror tells us one thing, our minds another, and the media gives us no rest.

These confining regulations are held to us by society.God’s Word contains none of this.Rather, He comforts us with the gentle reminder in Psalm 139, “…You knitted me together in my mother’s womb…I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…my frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.”And He lovingly rebukes our wrong focus by stating His true and timeless standard in Proverbs 31:30, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”

Our Father knows our limitations.He understands that culture’s call to physical perfection is impossible. No one is “flawless.”Not the most beautiful model, not the most glamorous starlet.95% of the pictures you see in those fashion catalogs and magazines have been edited and manipulated by a computer program.We all have insecurities and “defects.”No one is exempt.

But enough of the problems.You already know of them, because they exist inside all of us.What is the solution?What is the answer we so desperately need?I am reminded of the words of an old hymn.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

That, I think, is the answer.It is so simple and yet so powerful.We must get our eyes off of ourselves and onto Jesus Christ.The answer to contentment is not losing weight or finding the perfect make-up products or dressing just right.It is not heightened self-esteem or being around people who make you feel good about yourself.

You will find contentment when you focus on Jesus Christ and on Him alone.

This is a hard task.It is not something you will learn overnight.It is a journey; a long, long journey, and like your Christian walk, some days will be better than others.There will be high mountains on this pilgrimage…times when you are so close to God you can feel His breath on Your face…and then there will be valleys, dark places where you can neither see God nor feel His love.Those are the times when you will feel a loneliness inside of you, and a restlessness, a longing to taste the slop of the world and a derision towards the feast of heaven.Then you must walk by faith and not by sight, because your perspective is clouded.You must keep going and trust that soon you will come to the level places and to a richer understanding of Him.You must keep placing one foot in front of the other, knowing that soon, you will return to your sweet walk with your Savior.

Like Peter, you must keep your eyes on Jesus.When you stop focusing on the Lord, the turbulent waves of this world will threaten to pull you under.But fix your gaze on Him and you will walk above those waves in a way that the unsaved world cannot fathom.

Don’t compare yourself to the faces and bodies held up to you as ideal.Be the beautiful child of God that He has made you to be, by comparing your heart to His.Don’t give credence to those feelings of jealousy.And don’t entertain “if onlys”!Send them out the door without a by-your-leave!God made you exactly as He wanted to, and He loves you.What more can you ask for?The fleeting admiration of fickle man?That is nothing compared to the supremacy of Christ’s love, the constancy of His friendship, and the richness of His affection.

Look ahead.Look beyond the passing present.Charm is deceitful…beauty is vain.The appearance of the most gorgeous woman will deteriorate.But a heart devoted to God has a lasting legacy.

There is nothing wrong with beauty.God created it, and He created us to appreciate it.But there is everything wrong with dwelling on beauty, idolizing beauty, and valuing external beauty above all else.

Look to Jesus.Allow Him to calm the storms of your heart, and keep your eyes on Him.Everything else will fade in that light.

Keely B. is a 16 year-old California country girl. She loves Jesus, her friends and her big family of nine. Besides writing, Keely enjoys horseback riding, sports, reading, playing the fiddle and listening to country music. She is the editor of Apples of Gold E-Magazine and also runs Sisters Keepers, a brand new blog for Christian girls.

8 Comments

  1. God's Princess says:

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful blog with us, I just love it. Real beauty always starts with the inner-person, that is for sure! God Bless xx

  2. Anonymous says:

    As others have said, this was very well-timed for me to read right now. Thank you Keely and YLCF!

  3. *laughs self-accusingly*

    This was good to read. I just came back from a really amazing Christian conference…and the thing I remember most? The speakers? The new friends? The overall spiritual blessing? No…I am spending my time fretting over the fact that the food was so good that I added on [GASP] two whole kilos during my stay…

  4. While I didn’t have time to read this article when it was first posted, I remembered it today–I don’t normally feel discouraged about how I look or anything, but today was an awful one for my self-esteem. But you’re right, the answer is so simple! 🙂 Thank you so much for writing this article, Keely, and I hope you’ll share many more with YLCF. 🙂

  5. Stephanie says:

    “You will find contentment when you focus on Jesus Christ and on Him alone.”

    Such great thoughts, Keely!
    I really enjoyed this post and I’m sure it’s blessed many others. Thank you for sharing your heart in this area!

  6. Keely,

    That was beautiful, and EXACTLY what I needed to hear right now! Thank you for the encouragement… it is easy to get caught up in the frivolity of keeping up with the world’s idea of beauty.

    God bless you!
    Keri

  7. Wow Keely thanks for the awesome awesome read..and thanks to YLCF for publishing this piece..it came in the right time. I've struggled in my own life with so many IF Only's..but Jesus ABOVE all else and my Christian Sisters and Brothers continue to tell me just how beautiful God made me. I just have to believe it..But like you said Keely…

    "Look to Jesus. Allow Him to calm the storms of your heart, and keep your eyes on Him. Everything else will fade in that light."

    That's so true, Its' only when we focus and completely surrender to Jesus, only THEN do we find complete peace, contenment and then God helps us see our own beauty..BUT just like you said Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain..that's so true..It's our heart That's the only thing that matters and counts the most to Our Lord and Savior.
    And a God fearing woman should be praised..Amen indeed.

    wow this was so good!

    Keely if you are reading this you are so wise beyond your years.
    You write so beautifully too!

    Thank you for such a beautiful piece.

    Take care!
    Blessings & hugs!

    To God be all glory!

    In Him, Jane.

  8. Wow. Thanks so much! It’s especially applicable since I’m starting a diet today. 🙂 Dieting can be okay, but it can’t be our focus — your article was a great reminder not to be obsessed with externals! Thanks again!

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