Insecurities... cause don't we all have them?
So, lately I have been hearing a lot about insecurities and more specifically, the pressures women feel that lead to unhealthy relationships with food and their body and such. I have noticed myself being overcome by my own insecurities and have seen other people in my life greatly impacted by anxiety. It seems that nowadays pretty much every girl starts suffering from these issues in her teenage years. Sometimes it’s merely an annoyance, but sometimes it leads to very dark places (depression, anorexia, etc.) It’s not something to be trifled with and the ramifications are no joke.
Well, I preface with those things just to tell you that this topic has been heavy on my heart. It’s something people talk about a lot (which is much better than acting like it doesn’t exist), but the so-called solutions I often hear of are quite appalling. People say that you must train your mind to think positively. You must decide to “believe in yourself”. You must look in the mirror and tell yourself you’re pretty until you believe it. Our society loudly preaches to us that the best thing we can do is to love ourselves and to choose ourselves and to put ourselves first. We are taught to have confidence in who we are because we are all pretty. We are taught to put away the negative and degrading thoughts about our beauty, believing that no matter what anyone says or thinks, we should feel good about ourselves. It’s all about dressing and acting the way that makes you feel attractive. And in order to get away from eating disorders, we are supposed to be confident in ourselves no matter our weight, choosing to believe our body is "sexy". And as long as we can find a way to love ourselves, then we’ll be just fine. It all sounds nice and romantic, huh? It’s the idea of looking in the mirror and saying “I look good and no one can tell me differently because I believe in myself and I love myself."
This is what we are taught as girls. This is even what we are taught as Christian girls. But the reality is, according to Scripture, that this will never fix anything, and it was never intended to. The problem with these “fixes” and with the mentality that this encourages is that it is all about us. It propels teenagers into a life of self-centeredness and a falsely found confidence in themselves and their beauty. The thing is, God never really leaves it up to us to decide our value and worth, and it’s certainly not based on our opinion of our own appearance. The act of standing in front of the mirror and preaching your own beauty to yourself will never affect the real heart issue that is present. We should be standing in front of a mirror preaching to ourselves the love of God and the identity we have in Him. Because if we truly believed (rather than just kind of brushed it off) in God’s steadfast love for us, and if we truly believed that we were made in the likeness of Him for His purpose, then we would know we are valued and we would know we are worthy. We aren’t worthy because of our looks and we aren’t worthy because of our confidence and we aren’t worthy because of our weight, we are worthy because God created us as His worthy children and because HE declares it. We don’t get to decide our own value or anybody else’s for that matter. We are to look to Scripture to find our confidence; we find our confidence in what God says about us in His word. We find confidence knowing that the power of God is behind us at all times when we follow Him and seek Him. We find confidence knowing that God designed us exactly the way we are for His exact purposes, and we don’t get to question His design. We don’t get to, and frankly we shouldn’t want to.
Not everyone is going to be a model. Not everyone is going to be skinny. Not everyone is going to meet the world’s ever-changing, primitive, subjective standards of beauty. Not everyone is going to have thick, curly hair. Not everyone is going to have a “sexy” curvy figure. But you know what we do all have? We all have the opportunity of an intimate relationship with Jesus, and we all have access to the Scriptures, where God declares our value and our beauty and our worth in Him. I am sure there is value in training yourself to think positively about your body, but that’s not where we should stop. We must dig deeper. We must dig until we get to the root of our issues, and that root is in our heart. It’s an issue of trust. It’s an issue of a wavering faith. It’s telling God that we know better than Him about how we should be designed. It’s telling God that although He declares us beautiful in Scripture, that he doesn’t know what He is talking about. And when we focus our time on learning to “love ourselves”, we completely disregard the Lord’s command to die to self. We should rather be focusing our time on “loving Him”. God never commands us once in the Bible to love ourselves. But he commands us to love Him and others a million times over. The truth is we have no problem loving ourselves; we do it all the time. The very act of spending your day thinking about your own appearance and how you want to change it is self-centered. We show our love for ourselves when we obsess over what we look like. We show our love for ourselves when we starve ourselves, knowing it can endanger our health, upset our loved ones, and ultimately put the attention back on us. That’s loving yourself, and the Bible calls us directly away from that. We have to practice the act of dying to self and picking up our cross daily. So, rather than turning our negative thoughts about ourselves into positive ones, we should turn our negative thoughts about ourselves into positive thoughts about God and His love for us and our mission for Him. The truth is that Satan uses this anxiety and insecurity ultimately to distract us from the beauty and love of God. It distracts us from our purpose as Christ followers. It steals our confidence in Jesus and our joy in knowing Him because we become consumed with ourselves. In order to fix these issues and get away from these insecurities, we must consume ourselves with something else, namely Jesus. If we focus our time on investing in our relationship with Jesus and falling more deeply in love with Him, I really think these insecurities will start to fade. Of course it’s not some easy magical fix. Of course it’s not like you pray once and then you never feel insecure again. And I am certainly not trying to belittle the seriousness of these issues. However, I do know this. I know that when our focus is on Jesus and when we decide to run hard after Him and His purposes for our life, we start to place our value there rather than on our appearance. And that’s exactly where our value is intended to be.
So, the issue really isn’t whether or not you think you are pretty. The issue isn’t whether or not you “like” your weight. The issue is whether or not you trust God. The issue is whether you are consumed with God or you are consumed with yourself. This reality is extremely convicting for me. I know that there are plenty of days when I choose to be consumed with myself. I am guilty of this more than I want to admit, but I think God has been truly changing my perspective and my heart on this topic over the last few months.
I want to wake up and (rather than find some confidence from loving myself) find confidence in the love of God. Not unto us, but unto Him is the glory. That’s the really beautiful thing about this—He gets the glory. And in the moments or days or even seasons when these insecurities get the better of you, God has grace for you in that time. It’s abundant grace and it covers us completely. Please don’t hear me say that we are taking these issues too seriously or that people who have these disorders are ignorant or anything like that. I have struggled with anxiety and a lot of insecurity myself. There are days when I obsess over my skin and desperately desire the flawless skin I see on other girls. There are days when I spend way too much time thinking about how much skinnier I want to be. I constantly am comparing myself to others. I may not have experienced these issues to the degree of some others, but I know these issues are real. I have seen them drastically impact the people around me. But I just want to encourage women of God to leave these issues at the foot of the cross. To leave them at the foot of the cross, admitting that we don’t have the strength to conquer them ourselves. We can’t rid ourselves of them by preaching confidence to ourselves, and we can’t recover by loving ourselves more. I want to encourage anyone who reads this and relates to any of these feelings of anxiety or insecurity to read what Scripture has to say about you because it’s powerful. You don’t get to decide whether or not you are worthy and valued and loved. You are. You always have been and you always will be. You are an image bearer of the King of Kings. You have a purpose and it’s a really beautiful one. And above all else, there is grace for you in your season of struggle. There’s always always grace. Thanks be to God!
The verses below have really dictated my view on this subject and are ones that the Lord has used in powerful ways in my own heart: (So, rather than taking my word for it, I encourage you to dig deep into Scripture to see what it says about who you are in Christ. I hope and pray it will really change your perspective.)
Psalm 139:13-14 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.
Our bodies and our appearance are actually reasons to worship God. They aren’t reasons to worship ourselves and they aren’t reasons to loathe ourselves either. We praise HIM because of how He made us. That’s so relieving, so beautiful, and so different from what the world tells us about our bodies.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.
And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
1 John 4:18-19
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because He first loved us.”
“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”
Isaiah 32: 17
The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.
But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him.
Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
For the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.
In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, and his children will have refuge.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
1 Peter 1:18-19
It was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
God shows how immense His love for us is by saving us with “the precious blood of Christ”. We are valued enough by God that He would send His son for us.
You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.