Last year in school we studied Greek mythology and as I looked at the goddess Aphrodite I saw that she was a large woman but she was also known as one of the prettiest women in the whole world. But now all I see in magazines and stores are skinny-pretzel thin girls and I can’t shop in any clothing store without making myself cry. I’m tired of it and I tell myself I want to be like those women but I know I won’t ever be that thin. How can I let God tell me I’m beautiful without feeling like he’s lying to me? Please help me find a way to stop me from getting so sad.-H
Dear H, My heart breaks for you, sweet one. I am so sorry that you are hurting so much and that you find yourself so very sad. I wish that I could give you a big hug right now.
But I also know what you mean. It’s so hard to try to tell myself that the way that I look is beautiful when models and actresses make me feel the EXACT opposite. I’ve struggled with this my whole life. How often do I stand in front of my mirror and think, “I know I’m supposed to like what I see, but God, do you know what it takes to be pretty in this world”?
Some days I believe the truth about what God says about me, and other days – like you – I’m prone to listen to the lies that Satan wants to feed me. How can we grow in this area?
1. Keep pursuing Truth. Are you reading the Bible, in a Bible Study/Small group, or able to spend time with someone who will continue to remind you of God’s Truth?I think my whole story changed when I started reading the Bible on my own. It’s important that you have a translation that you can understand – one that’s easy for you to read. I recommend The Message, The New Living Translation, or the God’s Word Translation for teens especially. I feel like these versions utilize the kind of language you use on an every-day basis.
2. Memorize God’s Truth! God’s Word should be in our hearts and minds, on our tongues, and posted all over our world… try sticking post-it notes with verses in places that you can see them on a daily basis! I will give you some of my personal favorites for combating lies: Psalm 19:14, Psalm 22:23-24, Isaiah 55:8-9, Deuteronomy 30:19-20, 1 Thessalonians 2:4, Psalm 139: 23-24, 2 Corinthians 12:9, and of course, 2 Corinthians 10:4-5.
Here’s what Kenneth S. Weust says about memorizing God’s word:
“[The believer] is to so yield himself to the Word that there is a certain at-homeness of the Word in his being. The Word should be able to feel at home in his heart. . . The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God what we know as He talks to us and guides our lives. He can efficiently talk to us to the extent to which we know the Word. That is the language He uses.”
That hit home with me. If I want to walk in the Spirit rather than being overwhelmed by the images of skinny models, I need to speak the language of the Spirit. Memorizing God’s Word is going to be so important when we tackle any struggle- but especially the kind that takes up residence in our hearts and minds.
3. Don’t fight this alone! Share with a trusted youth leader or friend. Consider seeking out a counselor who can help you work through these issues. I’m 33 and have been seeing a counselor about this very topic for the past few years. I’ve been able to be honest and I can see real change happening in my life…but I had to be willing to share. I’ve never had an interest in joining the armed forces. Combat sounds terrifying to me. But do you know what sounds even worse? Fighting alone. I like my chances WAY better if I have someone (make that lots of someone’s) by my side.
“Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” Ephesians 6:13-18, The Message
I wish I could tell you that I’m cured of my desire to be thin, pretty and perfect, but I’m often still struggling in this area, sometimes on a daily basis. But I’m fighting. I have to choose to fill my heart and mind with good things, especially God’s Word. The world says my worth comes from my outward appearance; God tells me my worth is found in my heart. “People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7, NLT)
Too often I let comparison or a desire to look a certain way steal the victorious life given to me in Jesus. I don’t want numbers on a scale to have control over my countenance and emotions. So each day is a battle. Each day I choose whether I’m going to seek the attention and approval of others, or if I’m going to seek my Father. I have to remember that our God is totally trustworthy.
Praying for you H. I’m going to keep writing posts this week with your letter in mind. Please write again soon…