This year has been all about challenging myself and getting out of my comfort zone and doing what God wants me to do. Last week I went on a pretty big adventure, or at least it was for me! I actually spoke… that’s right, SPOKE in front of a group at a church event. For me, that was way outside of my comfort zone! My voice was shaky, and I had to look at my notes while I was talking so I didn’t lose my train of thought, but you know what? Afterwards, I had so many girls come up to me and say they really enjoyed it and got a lot out of it! Public speaking terrifies me, but I’m trying my best to live out the advice from my last blog post that “God does not call the qualified, he qualifies the called,” and so far, it has been a huge blessing in my life!
The idea for this event all started at one of our Bible study get-togethers a couple of months ago. Our Bible study has been meeting for over a year now, and as we have gotten to know one another better, we found that there were a lot of things that we all wished someone had sat us down and talked to us about when we were younger. So we decided to make a night of it, and speak candidly to the young girls from our different churches about those topics!
We decided to call the night “Strength & Dignity” and our theme verse was Proverbs 31:25, “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” We just wanted to have a fun night to minister to younger women and speak into their lives what God had laid on our hearts to talk about. We covered a lot of topics, including popularity, purity, friendships, and modesty. We had a time of worship at the end and then split into smaller groups to finish out the night. The girls each got a beautiful t-shirt with our theme verse to take home and tell their friends about. We had pretty decorations, a little goody bag full of stuff for each girl, and a craft… The girl’s faces just lit up! It was an awesome time and they all had so much fun.
Afterwards we got so many comments about how much they loved having a time to just talk about girl’s topics without all the boys around. So many came up to us with hugs and smiles and said how much they wanted to do it all again. All of us left with this great feeling that it had all come together just how God had planned it to, and that we had reached a lot of girls for Christ. It was awesome to be able to get to know those thirty girls that came and talk about our struggles and teach them in a way that was relevant and applicable to their lives. I can’t wait to start planning our next event! I want to share what I spoke about with you all. I’ve paraphrased it just a little bit, and cleaned up my terrible grammar, but here you go! I hope that you’ll enjoy reading this, and if you have any young women in your life, that maybe you’ll share it with them!
“Self Image and Modesty: What You Really Need to Know”
Talking about modesty was like my least favorite thing growing up. Trust me. I get it. I’ve been there. But I want you to know that I don’t think modesty is about certain rules and regulations. It’s not about how tight your shirt can or can’t be, or what length of shorts is acceptable. It’s not about how to look like a “Christian girl.” I don’t think that’s Biblical, and I don’t think that mentality is effective in young girls’ lives. So I’m going to take a different approach to talking about modesty. You see, I think that when your view of yourself aligns with how God sees you, that all these other ideas of modesty, how you should act, how you should dress, and so on, naturally fall into place.
I want to share with you a little bit of my own journey. I’ve always been flat chested. I guess the nice way to say that is that I have a “boyish figure.” As a teen, I would look at the photos of girls in fashion magazines and wish that BAM – my body would suddenly turn into what I was seeing on those pages. But let’s face it, that didn’t happen. And it rarely does for most of us girls. As I got older and even into my college years, those thoughts stuck around. There have even been times even in the recent past that I’ve thought about getting surgery to fix the situation – ahem, a boob job. I hope that’s not too shocking to anyone. But I figure that if it’s been a struggle for me, that it’s been a struggle for someone out there, too. But maybe your desire to change yourself goes even deeper than that. Maybe you try to change your physical appearance through extreme dieting or excessive workouts. Or maybe you struggle with thoughts of suicide, self-harm, or addiction. I don’t know what your struggle is, but I do want you to know that you are not alone. Many of us have shared in your struggles and we want to talk with you and minister to you.
But back to my topic. As I said, even into my twenties I still had these nagging feelings I couldn’t get rid of: “I just don’t look good in a bathing suit because I’m flat as a pancake,” “She has such a better figure than I do,” “I feel like less of a woman because of my shape.” I could bore you with a long list of these negative thoughts, but I’ll stop there. I want you all to know that God has really worked on my heart and I’ve come around. He has given me the grace to realize something: those thoughts that had taken up so much of my days as a teen and even in college and the beginning of my married life; those negative feelings about myself that caused me so much heartache and self-hatred and shame… all of those thoughts and feelings are lies from Satan, every one of them!
Satan is real. I don’t think we talk about that in our churches enough. Satan is described in the Bible as one who tempts us and deceives us, and Jesus himself calls Satan the “Father of lies” (John 8:44). Lying to us is right up Satan’s alley, and he is really good at twisting our thoughts and causing us to see ourselves negatively instead of how Jesus sees us – valued and loved. Why does Satan do that, especially to young women and girls? I mean, just think about it: if you’ve been around church at all you’ve heard the story of creation and the first man and woman, Adam and Eve. If you’re familiar with the story, you know that Satan has been busy lying to us ladies since the beginning of time! He lied to Eve and told her that she was “not enough” and that she needed more in her life. More knowledge, more power, more influence.
That begs the question: why is lying to us women so important to Satan? Why do all young women seem to have this universal struggle of feeling inadequate, ashamed of our appearance, and feeling dissatisfied with the qualities God has gifted us with? I think it’s because Satan is waging war on us young women. I know that sounds weird, but I really believe it’s true. One of the things we’ve talked about in our Bible study is how real spiritual warfare is. Spiritual warfare, if you’ve never heard of that before, means that Satan is attacking us Christians. He is doing his best to distract us from our purpose on this earth, which is loving God and loving others. Every one of us is susceptible to Satan’s schemes and tricks – boys and girls, young and old, seasoned Christians and new Christians. But I think that us young women are one of his prime targets because Satan knows how much influence young women can have for good in this world, and he does everything he can to distract us from our God-given purpose!
Just as I said a minute ago, God created ALL of us, both guys and girls, with this purpose: to love God and to love others. However, I want you to know that God created women to reflect certain aspects of Himself that men cannot. It took both man AND woman to make God’s creation complete. Don’t believe me? Go back and read Genesis 1 and 2, those very first couple of chapters in the Bible. I’m going to paraphrase here, but just listen to this amazing story of the creation of humanity from Genesis chapters 1 and 2:”Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. So the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’ So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”
You see, God created mankind to rule over this world that He created, and to reflect His own character – the Bible says that humans are “image bearers” of God. But just creating man was not enough, God decided. In order to completely paint this beautiful picture of all of God’s characteristics, creation required another kind of human being – a woman – in order for God to be fully satisfied with his creation. Adam and Eve were happy and blessed by God. They were perfect for each other, and they had this perfect relationship with their Creator as they ruled over a perfect, beautiful, and sinless world.
However, Satan was, and continues to be crafty. He twisted Eve’s thoughts and convinced her that what God had created her to be was “not enough.” He attacked her self-image. He convinced her that she needed more in her life. She listened to Satan’s lies, and our world fell into sin and was forever changed. Let me interject here that you are not alone in falling into temptation. Eve, that perfect woman that God created at the beginning of the world was tempted and fell into sin! But does that mean that God did not use her for His incredible purpose? Absolutely not. We are all alive and kicking today because of Eve. Even though she messed up, she is the ancestor of each and every one of us! I think that is a pretty awesome thought.
The Bible is FULL of incredible examples of women who used their lives in beautiful and powerful ways to honor God. And let me tell you, God used some of the most unlikely people to accomplish some pretty incredible things in the Bible. If your head is not in that book, you are truly missing out! Did you know that in Jesus’ family tree, there are prostitutes and adulterers – women that have ROYALLY messed up. Women that even by today’s standards are filthy! Trust me, there is nothing new under the sun. That stuff was around in Bible times too. The Bible is not just a prim and proper book of rules on how we should live. There’s some crazy stuff in there that just reinforces how God uses people despite our sin and our messes to accomplish His plan and His purpose. I’m so glad He does that, aren’t you?
You see, none of us are perfect. But Satan whispers in our ears and tries to get us to focus on those imperfections instead of on how much God loves us. He tries to get us to a point where we think we are beyond help and cannot be used by God. Those lies that Satan whispers tell us that we are not pretty enough, we are not smart enough, we are not popular enough. Those lies tell us that chasing boyfriends, sex outside of being married, beautiful clothes, clear skin, a perfect body – that THESE are the things that will make us feel fulfilled and make us feel valued and desired. But please listen to me. I am speaking to you as a sister: those things will NOT make you happy! When we listen to Satan’s lies about these things, we begin to travel down a dangerous and lonely road that does NOT lead to happiness. Instead, it leads us down a path of constant comparison to other women, emptiness, and a lack of fulfillment and purpose. And that is exactly the powerless place where Satan wants us!
Many of us in our Bible study group will tell you that we have been down that road. Maybe some of you out there are currently on that road. But I want you to know, sister, that YOU are valuable to God. No matter how you’ve messed up, no matter how unworthy of forgiveness you feel, no matter what horrible stuff someone may have done TO you in this sin-filled world, God loves you, and it is in JESUS that we can find our value and our worth. It is when we give it all over to him – our insecurities, our sins, our addictions, our MESS – that we get to experience what He created us for: a beautiful life of loving God and loving others. When we enter into that relationship with Him and are living in a way that honors God, we get to experience true beauty in our lives.
Let me bring it all together with a couple more examples from my own life – I think that real-life application is what helps us the most, don’t you? Like I said at the beginning of this talk, I had been so caught up in the fact that I didn’t have big boobs. It sounds so goofy when I say that now… like, how could I have let something that seems so shallow to be that big of a deal to me? But it was. Because Satan knew how to twist my thoughts! But there was much more about myself that I was unhappy with. I had horrible cystic acne on my face growing up. I was so embarrassed and caught up in that that I would actually stay home from places. I thought that I was ugly and undeserving of being around others. I went through a period of major depression. I let something like zits cause me so much agony and heartache that I actually lost sight as a teen of God’s purpose for my life! I hated that I was not athletic, I hated that I was shy, the list goes on.
If you’re struggling with self-image, please just know that you are valued by God. You are His beautiful creation. You don’t have to dress to impress. You don’t have to find your worth in boys. You don’t have to do stuff to get a boy to like you. You don’t have to have a perfect body or clear skin to have a purpose in your life. You are enough because Jesus loves you. It’s as simple as that. Satan tries to get us young women to focus on what we don’t like about ourselves, so that we focus on “me, me, me” instead of “God, God, God.” He wants us to focus on those insecurities, instead of focusing on our hope and security in Jesus!
God has given each one of us different gifts – whether it’s good looks and beautiful smile, school smarts, an awesome sense of humor, a servants’ heart, athletic ability, a loving and caring nature, the gift of public speaking, a heart for children, a desire to adopt one day, a heart to help the elderly, a desire to serve in missions, a longing to be a mom… Whatever it may be, remember this: God has given us those gifts to SERVE and make an IMPACT on those around us. None of us girls are perfect, but if we get focused on those imperfections we are not fulfilling our purpose on this earth.
You see, Jesus, God’s Son, came to earth because He loved us so, so much. Can you picture that with me? He saw us, through space and time, and loved each of us so much that He willingly came down to earth from heaven and gave his life for us. Even though we are all sinners and live in a fallen world, He saw value in us you guys! We are precious in His sight! Worth loving, worth fighting for, and worth dying for. He died and paid for our past, present, and future sins so that we might be Forgiven. Made pure. Beautiful. Beloved. Redeemed. Confident. Influential. Impactful. Gracious. Compassionate. Kind.
Apart from Jesus’ amazing work on the cross, we are lost. We are the opposite of those things. But because of Jesus, we can be all of those things and more! I challenge you, don’t listen to the lies from Satan about not being enough. Listen to the love of Jesus that you are valuable and BEAUTIFUL in his sight! I’m actually going to take it one step further. If you hate yourself and are constantly down on yourself, you are actually NOT being pleasing to God. Really let that sink in. I’ll say it again: when you think negatively about yourself, and focus on what you hate about yourself instead of focusing on what God created you to be, you aren’t honoring Jesus! You are His creation, His beloved daughter! If you understand that, sister, it will radically change your perspective!
To close, I want to share some verses that have helped me along the way to understand how precious women are to God. These verses explain what it means to be beautiful. If you can feel the heaviness of Satan attacking your spirit, if you’re going through times when you doubt that you are valuable to God and you can feel the reality of spiritual warfare, please, PLEASE get with a Godly friend or mentor. Pray it out! Battle back by reading God’s promises to us in scripture. Satan is powerful, but he is no match for a woman who is living in God’s power!
Luke 1:45 “Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
1 Samuel 16:7 “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
1 Timothy 3:10 “Women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do.”
1 Peter 3:3-4 “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
Let me interject here really quick that these verses are NOT saying that wearing cute clothes and doing your hair up is bad in and of itself. These verses are saying that those things should not be our focus… that is NOT where our true beauty is found! It is a life that reflects Christ that is truly beautiful to God. That leads me to our last verse:
Thanks for reading.