The act of really looking at yourself in the mirror and liking what you see is a hard one. A teenage girl sees the pimple starting to form, the middle aged man starts to see the hairs growing out of places that it hasn’t grown before, even the wrinkles that have been getting progressively deeper is hard for the 50-something woman to see. We tend to bypass the beauty that is staring back at us because the flaws seem to be bigger than life. A few years ago I had read about this gal who decided to try an experiment. The lady had been struggling with low self esteem because in her mind she was too heavy, too dull looking and a little too blah. So for a two week period she decided she would not look at herself in the mirror. She removed all of the mirrors in her house. When she went driving somewhere she was diligent not to use her rearview mirror to look at herself. While at work, she knew of course that she would have to use the bathroom so she made sure to get in and out there as quick as she could. Even trying to get quick glances of herself in reflections of windows was not allowed. She was set on finishing this challenge she gave herself.
As you can imagine the first few days were very difficult for her. She would have to put on makeup and style her hair without a mirror. When choosing outfits she would just have to trust that she looked ok. When she went about her day she had to remind herself often that she could not find ways to see her reflection or look at a mirror. After about the forth day, it started to get a little easier, she decided to not wear as much make up, and she styled her hair a little more simple, but what she started to notice was that she felt better about herself. She started to see that the way she looked wasn’t nearly as important as how she treated herself and thought about herself. She started to start looking at people differently too. People started to comment on how she seemed different. She started to care more about the people around her vs. how they looked because she started to care more about who she was inside rather than the façade she was struggling to keep up with more make up and stylish hairdos.
My teenage daughter just started the 9th grade. She is your average kid who wears the messy bun on the top of her head with an oversized sweatshirt and leggings most days. She has braces with pink bands and mascara on her lashes. She is into anime and can talk your ear off about all of the characters. Back when she was in 6th grade she got it in her head that wearing high healed shoes everywhere was the thing to do. She experimented with make up and spend so much time in the bathroom perfecting her look we would get her up early on school days just so she wouldn’t be late for the bus. Her clothing was stylish for a 6th grader and she took pride in how she looked. Jr. High hit and that’s where she learned that the pressure to wear the right thing and have the right make up style was important. Near the end of her 8th grade year, things changed, her friends changed and she started to see herself as perfect the way she was. She had been trying so hard to look a certain way because her friends looked that same way, but then those friends moved on from the friendship and from there she started to see herself in a new light.
A few weeks ago my daughter went to her youth pastor and asked if she could give the message at one of the Wednesday night youth meetings. She told him her idea of what she wanted to talk about and he agreed to let her talk. She spend hours writing and rewriting her thoughts. She practiced with the youth pastor and they got the message nailed down. Last week was her talk. The main story line and lead in to her message was about Jacob and Esau in the Bible. These two were twins but as different as they could be. One was a momma’s boy and the other (Esau) was a big hairy burly man who did all the rough and tumble things big burly men do. Esau was also the first born and so he would get the inheritance. Jacob and his momma didn’t like this so they made a plan to trick Isaac, Esau and Jacob’s father. Since Isaac was almost blind, Jacob was able to trick him but putting goat hair on his arms and making himself smell like his brother. Long story short, Isaac was tricked by Jacob’s disguise, Jacob received Isaac’s blessing (basically he was awarded the inheritance) and Esau lost out on everything. Because of what Jacob did he lived his life in fear of his brother’s wrath. Instead of trusting that God would take care of him the second borne son, Jacob changed his appearance to trick his father to give him what he thought he deserved. My daughter’s talk was all about being deceived. She was deceived into thinking she had to look and act a certain way to fit in. She went on to say that people are “taught” to be a certain weight, have the right amount of money, and to act a certain way instead of just being who they are. When we believe we are not good enough we fall away from what the Bible says. God created us in His image, which means this: We were made perfectly, and God does not make mistakes. We are the ones that take what was given to us and try and change it.
Just as the woman who challenged herself to not look in the mirror for two weeks was able to start looking at herself and others in a different light, my daughter challenged her youth group to stop hiding behind the disguises. When we start to see ourselves as loved by a loving God, we can start to love others the same way. It doesn’t matter if you have a pimple on your cheek or hair growing out of your nose, God loves you and will provide for you. Until next time:
In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they’re still beautifulAlice Walker