This is not some catchy title, but this is something I asked my husband the other night, as I am 5 months pregnant with our fourth child at the age of 32. In my self-pity, I sat there and began thinking about how dreadful it is to be a woman and I started to answer my own question. Why is it such a struggle to be a woman?
Well because we live in a culture that idolizes beauty, perfection, sex/sex appeal. In 2011, the cosmetic industry (hair products, make-up, etc.) had revenue of 56.2 billion dollars! And at 5 months pregnant, I do not feel I fit into any of those categories. Oh the time of my youth when I never gave a second thought about firm thighs and a butt that didn’t jiggle. I never once thought those would be faint memories that I would wish could happen again, well without the vigorous working out and eating healthy. And that’s what was filling my self-pity, my definition of a “woman” in that moment was so tightly wrapped up in what the culture says is beautiful.
Then I quickly came back to the Truth and remembered, that is not what God intended. God would not intend for me to think it’s a struggle to be a woman. He wants me, and every other woman, to relish in the fact that she is a woman and in the way He has created her. When we question our story, the way we look, or our “job” (working woman, stay-at-home mom), then we are questioning God and His goodness. The struggle to feel of worth or value is not always wrapped up in the way we look. For other women it is being the best mom or by attaining success through a job.
Even though the struggle is not the same, it still manifests itself in the same way; when we don’t measure up to what the world’s standard is for “being enough” or attain perfection in that category, we can get frustrated with ourselves. And at any given moment I find myself struggling with the different ways to find myself worth. You should hear the frustration that I go through before one of our kid’s birthday parties because I am not Mrs. Crafty and I don’t have it in me to make their birthday parties look like something that would be on Pinterest. But whatever your idea of worth and value is, if it’s not rooted in the forgiveness you’ve received from Christ, then your self-worth is up for grabs.
I landed myself in that pity party because I was measuring myself to the culture I live in, as my husband and I just finished watching Alias on Netflix and even though the plot of the show has NOTHING to do with sex, sex appeal and showing off a woman’s body is all over it. It’s no coincidence that after watching this show I began feeling less of a woman. It is because I let (I take responsibility here) the subtle message about body image impact me to the point to think that my worth comes from the way I look. For me, I’ve learned it is very important to be mindful of what I watch, listen to, read; anything I put in my mind. If I put more of the world, than the things of Christ, in my mind then I am bound to fix my eyes on the things of this world.
This is why I am so incredibly grateful to know my Creator and to have a relationship with Him. When I go to this false pressure, He is able to remind me of the Truth. I loved that on this one particular night the Holy Spirit quickly came to my aid and reminded me of what the Truth is, that my self worth/my identity/my value is all rooted in what Jesus did for me on the cross. I put my trust in Christ’s death and resurrection at the age of 20 and since then my identity is no longer in “am I good enough”. Instead, I am called worthy because I am covered in His love and forgiveness. And even when I mess up and sin, God still sees His Son’s blood covering me.
The Truth is that I, WE, were created in His image and we were created for a purpose, which has nothing to do with being “sexy”. Our purpose is to glorify God. I tell our 9 year old daughter this all the time, God did not give us our bodies to be desired by other men or women, He gave us our bodies to point others to Him, to show others how He alone is worthy of our praise. And that is a beautiful and perfect purpose. When I am focused on that being my purpose, my meaning on this earth, I am excited and on fire! I can’t wait to see and seize the opportunities God gives me to bring Him glory. But I will completely miss out on those opportunities if I get myself lost in the lies of being a sexual object, instead of a woman created to worship God.
It is a beautiful thing when you see the difference between the Truth and the lie. The lie makes you feel so defeated. I don’t even think the women who are subjected to be the “Sexiest Women Alive” feel they are worthy of that title. Because sexy is subjective, it changes every year, and then a new person comes in the picture and all of sudden the sexiest person from 2013 is no longer the sexiest. It’s an endless rat race. And I find myself on the track when I focus my attention on the culture. But the rat race really illuminates the Truth, because just as much as that suffocates a woman, the freedom that comes from knowing our purpose, which is to glorify God, can make us feel like we’re on top of the world. I realize how beautiful and wonderful I am, even in my messiness and imperfections. So that moment that snapped me out of the self-pity was a glorious moment of freedom.
You see I, we, have a choice while we’re on this earth and we can choose to live in freedom or bondage. And let’s be honest, it is a daily choice and sometimes we have to make it more than once a day. That first look in the mirror the morning after 2 weeks of little to no sleep might scare us and we might struggle to feel gross or ugly. But we have to fight through and look at the woman in the mirror with the dark circles under her eyes with the puffiness to highlight the dark circles and our new found pimple, and say to her: You were created for a purpose and God has much for you today, but you will be unable to complete that purpose if you fall into the trap that your significance is wrapped up in the way you look. The way you feel about yourself will greatly impact the way you live today.
So go grab a cup of coffee (or tea or diet coke ☺) get out your Bible and spend some much needed time in His Word, discovering His Truth. Then decide you are going to live your day focused on what He says is True. Because it is only through Him that your freedom and purpose can be found. Last, plant a firm kiss on the mirror, because a woman, who knows the Truth and lives it, knows she is beautiful and loved.