From Margi: Wife, Mom, Attorney, Married to a Pastor
To: The Gals in Our Church
I remember it well. There I was, all of 18 years of age, walking through the college campus at Cedarville College in Ohio and I heard, “So how’s the weather up there?”
I honestly had never given that much thought to my height or how I looked until that moment. It was a defining moment for me. A thoughtless, immature fellow student made this offhanded, I’m sure she thought–funny–comment. I realized at that moment that I was not “normal.” I was taller than “normal.”
I’d like to say that I turned to the Lord and read my Bible and prayed and found myself and my self worth and that this comment meant nothing to me.
Almost 27 years later I remember the event as if it happened this morning. I spent years struggling with self-concept and acceptance of who I was.
Was it because of that one thoughtless comment? No, of course not. But that comment was enough to make me take survey of who I was and my life. It made me aware of things like never before. I had always been tall and thin, but until that moment I had never really focused on it.
Outward beauty was never emphasized in our home. Education, character and godliness were – all through my mother. I credit my mother for initiating in me any of the virtues I possess. My mother is truly one of the kindest, most godly, self-sacrificing, wisest examples of a true Christian I have ever known. Not only was outward beauty never emphasized in our home but I don’t recall ever speaking of outward beauty. It was inconsequential.
Unfortunately, in our society outward beauty is not inconsequential. The idea sometimes seems so pervasive that too often our focus is shifted from the more important, inner beauty, to the superficial, outer beauty. So, having no established concept of outward beauty as one is growing up, can be a problem for dealing with a beauty-crazed world.
Many women struggle with self-concept. We probably don’t say much about it, though. Not with parents, our best friends or our spouses. We silently berate ourselves and cry silent tears for the failings we see in our outward appearance. (Don’t even get me started on my inner inadequacies.)
Who can blame us? Everywhere we turn we are bombarded by images of thin, complexion-perfect, thigh-perfect, sculpted-cheekbones-perfect, incredibly beautiful women. Go to the mall– there are posters everywhere of these goddesses. Go to the grocery store and the magazines beckon you to pick them up with reverent fingertips and bow at the altar of beauty.
If you don’t fit into the mold of the tall, thin, but shapely, beautiful women on the magazines, on the television shows or movies, you just don’t add up.
Since that Fall day at Cedarville College I have found solace in Ps. 139:14 “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.”
On my good days, my soul does know very well that God made me perfectfully and wonderfully. It seems that the more I focus on God and others and less on me, the most I immerse myself in God’s Word, the more I surround myself with people who lift me up, the more I engage in activities that focus on my strengths, the less I feel inadequate in my self-concept
Do I struggle with my self-image? Of course. I would never be so disingenuous as to say that I’ve got it licked.
The reality is that, as much as I try to spiritualize things and find my identity in Christ, I still have those moments where I wish I were one of those goddesses.
Is there an easy fix of just reading the Bible and praying and all will be better? I don’t think so. I definitely think it helps. Perhaps the solution lies in a combination of bringing our secret insecurities to the Lord and surrounding ourselves with people that truly love us. Place yourself in situations where those around you celebrate your uniqueness and uplift your spirit.
Work on acquiring a better self-image. Read the Bible and pray; find fellowship with good , trustful women; read books on the subject; stop looking at those magazines; stop comparing yourself with others, get counseling – and above all know that you are not an accident or mistake of our Heavenly Creator. You ARE wonderful and beautiful and amazing – perfectly made by God for His perfect purposes.
Bill here, adding this P.S. Our daughter is tall for her age, which is an EXCELLENT reason TO NOT TELL HER SO! Or else! Kids her age don’t want to be different (see my post about stage fright).
For Part 2 of this blog, please check back next Wednesday.