We all view ourselves through different lenses. We see beauty in a certain way. “Beauty in the eye of the beholder,” is a true statement but it’s based less on natural taste than environmental factors. Our concept of beauty of attractiveness is shaped through what we see around us as we develop.
This summer I got the chance to get to know 58 thirteen and fourteen year olds. They all had different concepts of beauty and were at different stages of adolescents. Middle school is a huge time of change and development in our lives. We start to discover who we are and who we want to be. I had girls who were still in blissful ignorance of what society beauty demands were and just enjoyed being thirteen. They weren’t trying to look twenty or fit themselves into “cool clothes.” But I also had other campers who thought that being skinny, tall, and model-esque was the “ideal.”
It was almost painful to hear what my girls thought true beauty is. I remember my struggles with understanding my looks so vividly. It’s taken me so long to accept whom the Lord created me to be and appreciate how He crafted me. I had to retrain my brain to not compare myself to others.
This struggle of change is surely not limited to girls. Guys have their own struggles or thought patterns of what it looks like to grow up. As I said before, we all see ourselves through some lens and struggle in our own ways to accept our physical attributes.
I think God sees us very differently than we see ourselves. We are immersed in this culture obsessed with looks. But I don’t see that in the Bible.
God is quite a bit more practical than we are. It hurt to hear my campers lament the “fat” on their hipbones or how they didn’t like their shape because I remember feeling the same way. But, God created those curves for a reason. They make you strong. Women’s bodies are crazy. They grow humans and birth them. They are designed to do amazing, strong, powerful things. Each curve, each ounce of fat, points to health. We weren’t designed to all be size 2s or 0s. We were designed to be strong. To be healthy. To be joyful.
In the same way, men weren’t created to all be body lifters or have six pack abs.
What if God didn’t create us to be beautiful? What if He created us for something much greater than our physical attributes or clothing choices? What if He created us for a bigger purpose?
Romans 14:7-8 says, “For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord.” Our lives are fully interconnected with the Lord’s will. We don’t exist separately from Him. So what does He say about our lives?
Mathew 28: 19-20 says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always to the end of the age.”
When I think about purpose, I think about the disciples. I think of how they lived their lives. They worked hard. They discipled. They loved. They helped the hurting. This is how I want to live. Not all of us are called to full time, vocational ministry. That’s not really what I mean. We are all called, as children of God, to disciple others. To help the poor and fatherless.
God gives us bodies that have various abilities. He has given you exactly the body and abilities you need to serve Him best. Appreciate the strengths He has gifted you with!
When I started viewing my body as a tool, a means to the ends of service, it changed how I viewed it entirely. Whatever society says about my body, I know that these arms can hold the hurting. These legs can carry me to new places. My smile can calm an anxious heart.
God has given you a wonderful body. Now, how will you use it?