On many TV shows, in movies, and on magazine covers, girls are often portrayed as:
- People who are obsessed with their appearance.
- People who determine their value by how thin they can be.
- People who appear ready and willing to hook up whenever and wherever.
It’s as if “woman” has been stripped of almost every good, pure, and honorable quality. Instead, you’re told that completion is found in beauty, sex, and money. And as you’re probably already aware, those aren’t exactly the best values to have.
The result of all this is that many girls have associated value and significance with weight and appearance; self-esteem with sex appeal; acceptance with becoming It. They’ve bought the cultural lie that says, “Unless you have the right look, you’ll never be worth anything, you’ll never accomplish anything, you’ll never be somebody.”
You may be thinking: “Wait a second. I want people to like me. I want boys to like me. And the only way to get boys to like me is to be pretty and thin—sexy. That stuff is important.”
Sure, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good or be liked. But there’s something wrong with thinking that how you look or how popular you are is the most important thing in the world, the thing that defines who you are and gives you value. Suddenly you start thinking that without those $200 jeans you’ll just die. Or that you have to lose 15 pounds before you can like yourself. You get into a constant pursuit for more stuff, a better body, and more popularity. A pursuit that’ll never satisfy because it never ends.
It’s so easy to start thinking that being attractive is the only thing that matters. You forget that being kind and funny and smart and faithful to God can be good things too. You start thinking that how you look is who you are.
That’s how Jessica felt when she wrote to me and said, “I am ugly! I hate how I look. I hate how I dress. I hate my stomach. I hate my nose. Why can’t I be different? Why did God make me this way? What was He thinking?”
I bet you’ve said or felt similar things. Just think about how much time you’ve spent standing in front of the mirror, saying, “I hate how I look.” Or looking at a picture of a friend, or some famous actress or model and thinking, “Why can’t I be as perfect as her?” Soon all you’re thinking is, “I’ll never be pretty enough. I’ll never be sexy enough. I’ll never be…enough.”
God knows absolutely everything about you. And when He looks at you, He sees your beauty and potential. Not your so-called imperfections. He wants to make you complete, just as He created you to be. He wants to make you see that being you is a good thing.
Think of your favorite beautiful beach. Or the flowers you hope a guy will give you one day. Or the stars you wish on sometimes at night, half-heartedly hoping that wish’ll change things. The stars, the beach, the flowers—God created each of them exactly as He wanted them to be. And each is uniquely remarkable. But of all God’s wondrous creations, He gave your creation the most attention. And when He created you, He didn’t make a mistake.
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day. Psalm 139:14 MSG
“Um, excuse me. He didn’t make a mistake? You’ve got to be kidding. I’m a walking mistake with all my fat and zits and my ugly hair and big nose.”
Okay, that’s fair. Knowing that God lovingly created you doesn’t change the fact that you have pimples or a nose you don’t particularly care for or a million other features you think are unappealing. And just because you’re reading this doesn’t mean that tomorrow you’ll wake up, look in the mirror, and fully love what and who you see. But—and this is a tough skill to master—you have to learn to look at yourself with God’s eyes and not your own. Your eyes have been trained by the world around you to see all your physical flaws—and nothing else. But God’s value system is different, and—believe it or not—better.
Learning to see yourself as God sees you is about learning to look beyond the things you don’t like and realizing you’ve been created exactly the way He wanted. To Him, you’re unique. And He has an amazing plan for your life that requires zits and a big nose to make it complete. (I know this sounds crazy, but try to trust me.) You can’t see it yet, but God has a reason behind every “flaw” and a purpose behind every imperfection.
If you believe what that Psalm says, then you believe that God had good intentions when He made you. And He knew everything that was going to happen to you before you were even born. He even knew about the bad haircut you got last week.
Believe this: Every time He looks at you, He sees your life from beginning to end, and He sees how each piece fits together to make something awesome. All you can see is what’s in the mirror today. But that’s just one tiny, tiny step in God’s big plan for you. And He never stops working to make that big plan a reality.