Beauty: if there was a word that could define the first 29 years of my life it would be beauty. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be in an artistic or Miss America sort of way. No, instead for me, a pursuit of beauty and physical perfection ruled over me like a master dictating every aspect of my life and crushing my spirit. What follows will detail my imprisonment of and deliverance from beauty’s chokehold and I hope it inspires you to cast off your shackles also.
Before I begin I should add that I don’t believe there is ANYTHING wrong with wanting to look and feel beautiful. However, if you, like me, have a tendency to deeply root your self worth in your appearance you may need to read on sister.
Growing Up in Beauty’s Shadow
I have often read that to a child their mother is the pinnacle of beauty and when a mother degrades herself in front of her child it shatters their own self worth. Well, let me tell you friends, that rang true for me.
Growing up I had a mother who loved me with every ounce of her heart but who hated herself equally if not more. She had a deep and personal struggle with her appearance that had its roots decades before my birth. By the time I entered her life she found herself morbidly obese and brimming with self-loathing.
My life was a constant reel of hate-filled comments about weight and self-worth. In fact, the first words written in my baby book about me by my mother were “she has such beautiful long thin fingers, thank goodness she didn’t get my short, stubby, fat ones!”. By the time I was old enough to self examine the claws of beauty were hooked into me deep. It became very apparent that I was only worth anything if I was thin and full of outwardly perfection.
I have to add that my mother NEVER commented on my weight negatively. However, she did lavish me with praise when I lost weight or looked nice and she spent a little too much time on my appearance when she needed to impress someone (using me as her tool to feel beautiful about herself). I went on my first diet in third grade and from then on joined my mom in various diets we would do together, never once thinking that was an odd thing for a child to do with her mom.
Combine the above with clinical OCD, high anxiety, and emotional trauma and you have a recipe for extreme self-loathing, a need for physical perfection, and severe eating disorders. My personal life felt so far beyond my control that I clung to that which I could control: my physical appearance. In my mind, I was nothing if my makeup and hair weren’t perfect, my mani/
At one point I would spend one hour on my makeup, one on my hair and nails, and three on exercise every single day. I even got so obsessive that I would hide away from the world doing countless crunches and not eating for days until I could see every bone in my wrist. As horrible and embarrassing as this is, I would also take great pride in the fact that our household blood pressure cuff showed that I had a blood pressure of 60/40. To
The Lion of Judah
God made us to crave—to desire eagerly, want greatly, and long for Him. But Satan wants to do everything possible to replace our craving for God with something else.Lysa TerKeurst, Made to Crave Devotional: 60 Days to Craving God, Not Food
Fast forward a decade and with two daughters of my own, I knew that I desperately had to get a handle on my beauty addiction. From years of malnutrition and abuse, my body was crumbling and so was my spirit. I had tried countless times to pray for deliverance and I began to feel as if God was abandoning me to waste away in my self-made prison of beauty.
Then a friend had me read a copy of “Made to Crave” by Lisa TerKeuerst and a light bulb FINALLY went off for me. I wasn’t the problem here, Satan was. My self-loathing wasn’t about me, it was about Satan doing his best to keep who I was in Christ from me and from the world. If he could keep me shackled to the mirror and the scale I could never become the version of myself that God was calling me to be. If all I craved were thinness and physical perfection I left no room for the cravings of a good and faithful God who had plans for my life.
During my light bulb moment, God gave me an intense and powerful vision of the Lion of Judah standing between me and a mirror roaring with ferocity. From that point on I embarked on a journey to find who I was in Christ and separate it from how I felt about my looks.
One of the biggest accomplishments Satan has made in this world is to tie the self-worth of women to their physical bodies. Your self worth is meant to emanate from who you are in Christ and not from how you look to the world. I get it
Did you know that your body has a purpose bigger than how it looks? It is meant to house the roaring lion of the Holy Spirit that lives within you. If all you do is pay homage to how your body looks you will lose the opportunity to use it to fulfill God’s plans for you. Not being able to look people in the eyes because of your weight or leave your house without makeup is not what God had in mind when He created you. Satan has chipped away at the world and done his best to snatch away the value and preciousness of the God-given temple you have the joy to live in.
Don’t let him. Don’t miss the plans and opportunities God tees up for you because your heart is focused on outward perfection and the shame that comes with it. Every time you find yourself staying at home because your pants don’t fit or looking at the ground because of a breakout you missing a chance to be who He is calling you to be.
Let the Lion of Judah stand between your heart and the mirror today. In a world that tells you that you how you look is everything, remind yourself that how you look has no bearing on who you are in Christ.