There’s something about wearing a swimsuit in public that brings out insecurities we didn’t even realize we had – a phenomenon I witnessed firsthand on vacation in the Caribbean a few weeks ago.
I overheard countless women’s murmurs of negative self-talk all over the beach: “Wait, we can’t take group pics because I’ll look fat next to her.” Or, “Ugh, I have no butt whatsoever. I should’ve done more squats before this trip.”
In this digital age, we’ve all seen countless images of what our culture considers “perfect” bodies. Whether we’re flipping through a magazine, watching a movie, or just scrolling through Instagram, it can feel impossible to escape the stream of filtered, posed images around us – and the pressure to measure up to them.
Our bodies could be in perfect health, but still would never be good enough if looked at through our culture’s lens. We’ll either be too thin, too fat, have too much cellulite, or too little muscle… the list goes on.
And guess what? That’s not just what our culture wants us to believe; it’s also what Satan wants us to believe. Satan hates our bodies and wants us to hate them, too. You see, he knows better than we do that – despite illness or old age, wrinkles or fat – our hearts, our hands, our smiles, and even our “imperfections” were all made in the image of our Creator and imprinted with His goodness. (Gen. 1:27)
Regardless of how often we taint this goodness through sin, the Lord sees HIS reflection when He looks at us — and He is captivated.
I find that knowing this – that our true value is rooted in God’s divine life within us – is a huge aid in quenching feelings of unworthiness. But… as hard as it is to admit, sometimes it doesn’t feel like enough. I can know on a personal level how beloved I am and still struggle to feel beautiful and accepted.
The struggle is not about knowing that I’m beautiful on the inside; it’s about believing that that’s not what matters on the outside.
So, how do we do that? Here are three simple, but powerful, practices to get started:
SPEND TIME IN SCRIPTURE.
Consuming Scripture on a continual basis drowns out the lies that we hear from the world about image and fills us with Truth. It’s obvious, but we often neglect it. Here are a few beautiful verses to start reflecting on:
1 Samuel 16:7
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
2 Corinthians 4:16
1 Peter 3:3-4
Song of Solomon 4:7
PRAY ABOUT IT.
Invite God into the struggle. Though nothing is hidden from Him, He delights to hear what’s on our hearts and to free us from our brokenness. If we just ask, He will reveal to us what a skilled creator He is and with how much care he both formed and sustains our bodies.
LOOK FOR BEAUTY IN OTHERS.
Strive to see what is beautiful in others. Our concerns about thigh gaps and narrow waists (or whatever it is we’re hung up on) will melt into admiration for the heart that is open to love, the smile that offers kindness, and the spirit that is faithful through suffering instead.
The truth is, some of us fit the ever-changing mold of what culture deems beautiful, while others of us do not. Yet no matter what we look like (or how we perceive ourselves), we are ALL His handiwork, created with incredible love and care, and what matters is that we use our bodies as tools of worship to serve our Lord with our lives. Together then, let’s start celebrating the uniqueness of our bodies’ divine designs and acknowledging their goodness and purpose.
Amy is a writer and marketing professional based in Los Angeles. She is passionate about creating meaningful dialogue and empowering women through her writing, which has been featured on The Huffington Post, Darling Magazine, Grit & Virtue, and Milk & Honey Magazine, among other blogs and websites. You can connect with her on Instagram and her website.