Over the Thanksgiving break, I was able to go up north and visit my mother’s side of the family. Some of these folks I haven’t seen in person since I was ten years old, and our contact has been limited to Facebook updates. Some of these people also are very openly critical of and even oppose Christianity. And by oppose, I mean strongly oppose. From making a mockery of it to taking every opposing political stance in hopes of limiting it… They have everything to lose if Christianity were true, so it cannot and will not be true in their book.
I was so nervous while I was there. Like bologna-ring-pit-stain nervous. I felt like I had something major to prove the entire time I was there. That I’m funny. That I’m down to earth. That I’m wise and also book smart. That I’m clever. That I’m humble. That I care about the lives of others. That I am kind and compassionate. That I’m beautiful. That I’m a good mom, despite my age. That I’m making a difference. That I’m a person worth knowing and talking to.
I felt pressure to show them that a Christian is a real person worth knowing. I felt pressure to be living proof that Jesus is more than a religious belief, but a fulfilling relationship that gives purpose, meaning, joy, and peace that surpasses all understanding.
Important side note: my face had broken out severely, and no amount of makeup could cover it up.
Well, when I finally left, I felt entirely defeated. I felt like not only had I not represented the Lord like I’d hoped due to my overwhelming nerves, but I also wasn’t physically beautiful, so I didn’t have that going for me either. No matter how much time I tried to cover up those pesky flaws, both big and small, I couldn’t. I felt self-conscious the entire time. Inside and out.
Huh… Inside and out…
I had this realization on the 4 hour drive home once my daughter had fallen into a peaceful sleep in the back seat and I had real time to process.
I realized that I’ve been focusing a lot on my physical appearance lately. Before the skin breakout, I was watching makeup tutorials and putting more and more time into my morning routine, and less and less time into the Word until it dwindled down to none. After the breakout I spent more time fixing the flaws on the face rather than examining the ones in my heart. I spent more time gazing into the mirror than gazing at the Lord.
So with my physical beauty out of the picture, I felt insecure in every way. I had no confidence in my flesh to hide behind, which revealed an insecure heart.
When I do not spend enough time seeking the Lord, I lose touch with who I am because my true identity comes through Him. Without Him, I start to look to the left or right or into a mirror to find myself. When I lose touch with Him, I also lose touch with myself.
At the end of the day, no matter how much time, effort, or money you spend on your physical appearance, if you do not know who you are at the core of your being, you will feel insecure.
Putting effort into your appearance is not wrong, it is simply celebrating God’s beautiful creation in my book, and even being creative ourselves! It’s when our priorities shift from our identity in Christ to our physical bodies that gets us into trouble.
Beauty fades with time, but who we are should not. Physical beauty is not guaranteed, but our identity and worth, which is determined by the Lord, is constant. It is in the beauty of our hearts that our testimony holds power and truth. No amount of physical beauty can portray the love of Christ. No amount of physical beauty can lead a person to healing, or freedom from addiction, or joy even in hardship, but Christ sure can. And that love of Christ is the most beautiful gift we can give to people.
The night I wrote this, I got into bed at about 12:04am. I wanted to read the Word so badly but my husband was ready to sleep. So I dimmed my phone and went into my Bible Gateway app and I couldn’t believe what the verse of the day was.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
– John 15:5
It spoke deep to my heart. I read the rest of the chapter and the next few chapters after that and the Lord revealed Himself in so many ways. He convicted me, opened my eyes, and reconnected me to my identity in Him. It amazes me that the Lord loves us enough to pursue us, even when we have strayed for the thousandth time. He is faithful, gracious, and merciful.