I think the only time I ever struggled with self esteem issues was in elementary. As I grew in age, and in Spiritual maturity, I learned that my esteem was in Christ and not my self.
Even though all of society and people around me spoke harsh words about my weight, I never cared. I knew that Jesus loved me and chose me and that it wasn’t because of my outer appearance, but because of my heart. I don’t know how I knew this. I just did. I can honestly say the Lord alone did that in me. He graciously spared me, because I really am a sensitive kid, and I doubt I could have handled it. I was bullied in grade school, once or twice. A girl got half the 6th grade class to call me “Shamoo” after she found out that Aaron chose me to be his new girlfriend and not her. I was also bullied a bit in Jr. High. Spit on, and called some choice words. Looking at that in hindsight though, it wasn’t so much bullying as jealousy and hating. I always had haters, but again, the Lord was gracious. Both of those issues arose because of boys. Lol!!
Now, as an adult, I’ve found very few times that I’ve dealt with bullying or hating. I hear the murmurs and I see the looks I get. An occasional child telling me I’m big to my face, or secretly turning to their mom and loudly whispering, “look at the big lady!”
I actually prefer a kid’s honesty than the veiled judgement of their parents. And then of course there are the people who mean well and must walk up to you and give you diet advice! So, in adulthood I guess I still deal with that, and yet, by the grace of God, it doesn’t destroy me. I recognize my weight issue, and am working on it, and that’s all I can do. I don’t feel insecure, or ugly. I know the only beautiful thing about me is Jesus anyway. So it’s very rare for me to struggle with vanity.
Well… I will say, that I am officially struggling with vanity, now. I just want to share my heart and write about this in case you ever find yourself where I currently am. My suffering is not just for me, so, here it is.
Ever since Bell’s Palsy, I’ve felt ugly. Bell’s affects one side of your face and causes it to droop. Although mine wasn’t extreme, I could still see the droop. I’ll be honest about my vanity, and share that when it first happened, I had my Marcia Brady “Now, I’ll never be a teen model” moment, and thought, “what man’s gonna wanna kiss this crooked mouth?” Lol. I realize it’s kind of funny, but it was genuine. I actually thought that.
Since then, it’s like I allowed a crack in my Christ esteem foundation and the enemy has slowly been poking at it. I’ve called myself “ugly” in my mind a few times now. And as I meditate on that, I have started to feel ugly. I’ve been saying defeatist comments about how I’ll always look this way, or that way. And for the first time in weeks I’m recognizing it as the enemy.
So I’m gonna take this opportunity to gospel my own heart in public, and hopefully get through to you too…
We are not ugly.
Days before Bell’s Palsy hit, I had prayed and asked the Lord if He was ever gonna call me to physical suffering again. There’s context behind this… In short, I saw someone’s life from afar and was super encouraged by how much physical suffering the Lord called them to. I could see how the suffering was for the Kingdom. And in a moment of prayer, I asked that question. I don’t know if it’s selfish or the martyr in me, or the Job in me, but that suffering made sense to me and I prayed about it. I think I’ve always felt closer to Jesus in the midst of it, so it was my childlike, Christian missionary way of wanting time w Jesus. I think. Who knows. God alone does.
Anyway, the day of the Bell’s I spent half the day fasting and all day praying for someone I know to be released from darkness and to be saved. It was one of those days of true spiritual fighting! And at the end of the day, I ended up in the ER. It’s like I was in battle all day, and then, I was wounded by the other side and I was down for the count!
And here I am. Down, but NOT OUT! These moments of weakness and feeling ugly and struggling with vanity, this is all related. Same goes for you. We have a real adversary. He’s a roaring lion, and he is trying to crack our foundation in EVERY way possible. People usually underestimate him. They think he won’t attack every single aspect of their lives. But he does! Everything in your life is fair game for the enemy. And he will poke and poke and poke until he cracks foundations. For me, lately it has been in my appearance. What has it been for you? Your abilities to parent? Your ability as a mother? Your relationships? Your thoughts?
As believers in Christ, we are promised that we will suffer. We will have to endure great pain for the kingdom of God. Suffering unites us to Jesus and sanctifies us. The testing of our faith produces steadfastness and order for us to endure this battle, and this call we need that steadfastness!
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” -James 1:2-4
So, even if your wrestling with vanity, like me, or if you’re dealing with something worse, pease know the Lord means for it to grow and transform you. For those of you who do have the vain thoughts of “my hair is ugly, I’m not feminine enough, I need to dress up occasionally, I’m ugly” etc here’s what has encouraged me.
“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” – Proverbs 31:30
Even if you’re married and struggling with physical insecurity, please know that even to the Lord, beauty is fleeting. I was never promised a beautiful healthy face. This is war! War for souls!!! The Lord of The Rings, Eowyn (female warrior) in me wants to let out a battle cry, with my crooked mouth and everything. Lol
In battle, there are always casualties. Instead of looking inward to our own insecure issues and vanity, let’s look upward and see His standard and His choices. He desires men and women who fear Him and who will obey. The outer appearance doesn’t matter. Only the heart does. In this war, let your ego, pride, and vanity be the casualty of war!
I’m right there with you!!! I, like C.S. Lewis, will say that “My prayer is that when I die, all of hell rejoices that I’m out of the fight.” This is my true hope. That when I reach the end, I will be covered in scars and battle wounds of my fight. And I will finally get to my prize (Jesus) and I will get to see and hear my Lord say unto me… “Well done, good and faithful servant!”