For the Ladies

I know a girl*, and she dazzles me. I love her hair, the way it curls - the colour that shines in the sunlight. This girl is one of the most generous and loving people I know. She will do anything, for anyone, at anytime. Such a giver and it's such a blessing to those around her. Her smile! Oh that's my favourite! It lights up a room and is such an encouragement to me. I love seeing it and she never fails to make me laugh, or pick me up when I'm feeling down. I feel so blessed and honored to be her friend. She's so incredibly hardworking, and excels at so many things. I love her determination and her drive to do her best. I learn a lot from watching how considerate and compassionate she is towards others. There are so many qualities that I admire in her...

But when she looks at herself in a mirror, she doesn't see what I see. She sees imperfections, flaws. Curves that she wished were smaller, curls that she wished were straighter. Her face, a blemish and freckle too many. She's very cautious of her diet, and skipping a meal or two is part of her weekly routine. In fact, when she passes mirrors, she avoids looking at her reflection. And she's barely in any photographs. "Not photogenic," she says and steps away. She sees the beauty in her friends and is afraid to ruin the picture.

I think this girl is exquisitely beautiful, but when she examines herself, she doesn't. Its tragic.

I thought I had moved on from the self-esteem issues that plagued me in high school. But the announcement of a costume party or a semi-formal sends my insecurities through the roof. What if I don't look good enough? What if I make a mistake? What if despite all my efforts I fail? I think that when we are too critical of ourselves, we fail to see us in light of God's design.

My close friends will know this, but one of my largest insecurities are my arms. Years of playing sports, lifting books, and serving trays, my arms are pretty muscled. It's devastating sometimes when I'm trying on clothes and my arms won't fit. I make jokes about them, and try to hide them. But you know what girls? I have absolutely nothing to be insecure about.  One day, my arms will be strong enough to carry my children, or hold my husband while I pray for him. My arms are beautiful because they are exactly the way that God designed them to be (see Proverbs 31:17). We need to stop comparing ourselves to others because God has a special plan for us.

I think self-esteem is something everyone struggles with at certain periods. We all want to be something we weren't born to be. I think a root cause is where we find our identity. We mistakenly believe that our identity comes from the self-worth we gain from others. This is a terrible mistake. These people, who you are trying to impress, aren't perfect and probably inside feel exactly the same as you. Our society is full of insecure people trying vainly to impress more insecure people: what a terrible cycle. Someone told me once that,

True beauty is feared because it's contagious and exciting, it is deep and longed for. It is something rare in this world that gets ignored and diluted. People fear it and cover it, changing the definition to something that is not true, something that is surface rather than from the heart. God sees beauty, God knows beauty and God sees YOU as beautiful, way before the world sees your beauty.

Healing issues of insecurity needs to come from heart change. You need to see yourself before God, and understand how and why He created you the way He did. You need to recognize that you are loved, you were fought for and bought with a price. You are worth so much more than you will ever think. We need to cast away lies and claim truth. Repeat to yourself, "I am beautiful, God loves me, and He has a plan for me." It's ok to feel comfortable in your body and smile confidently in photographs. When you truly love yourself, others will only love you more.

*this is based off a compilation of experiences