The Harm in Stressing Over Appearance
I rarely like my own pictures. I always find myself picking them apart: “My neck isn’t thin enough.” “My face looks too round.” “My hair/makeup looks terrible.”
Recently I found myself playing that same tired song in my head about photos taken at a family event. I actually found myself thinking about plastic surgery, when a new question graced my thoughts:
“What does it matter?”
I had just come from addressing my church about an exciting new ministry that I get to be part of, one I had dreamed about for years. A friend of mine had just professed their faith in Christ for the first time. Work is going well. I have a wonderful husband and great family and friends. And here I am picking apart something as trivial as my appearance? Is that what I want to be known for, the kind of woman I want to be?
No it isn’t. But we live in such a beauty-obsessed world that it can be hard not to worry about our looks. But my fellow women (and men, if you find it applicable), the Word warns us against making our appearance too important. Today, I would like to discuss why.
It Doesn’t Last
To put it simply, our looks change. One day, our skin won’t be as firm as it used to be. Things will droop that didn’t used to. Things like pregnancy, aging, and disease change the female body drastically. It’s an unavoidable part of life.
The Lord knows this. Proverbs 31 tells us that charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, And we heave a collective sigh of disappointment. But God in all His wisdom follows this seemingly bad news with a “but.” “But a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
Now, don’t hear me saying that fashion or makeup or inherently sinful. Both can be enjoyed in healthy ways. But it can be tempting to put out hope and sense of self-worth into our beauty. Proverbs contrasts an idol that will crumble and a hope that will last. Don’t put your hope in deceptive charm or fleeting beauty. Fear the Lord, for He is eternal.
It Distracts Us
It may sound odd to call our appearance a distraction, but hear me out. Think for a moment how much time you spend worrying about how you look. How much head space do you give to thoughts like “if only I were thinner/curvier/more toned.” How long do you spend dwelling on your physical “flaws?” How much energy do you devote to trying to fix them?
Now, think “what could I be doing instead?”
We know that looks are temporary and the kingdom is eternal. Imagine what we could do if we redirected the energy it takes to pick ourselves apart to things that have eternal consequences? What if when I meet another woman, instead of thinking “I wish I had her hair,” I thought, “I wonder if she knows the Lord?”
Imagine the possibilities of putting your physical appearance in its place, the freedom of prioritizing the eternal over the temporary. I want that for you, dear reader, and for myself.
It Distorts Our Image of Sisters in Christ
Admiring the beauty of God’s creation is not inherently sinful. God made man (and woman) in His image. If you read Song of Solomon, you’ll see that scripture celebrates admiring a woman’s beauty in the appropriate context.
But we and our sisters in Christ are more than our physical traits. Our womanhood is more than just hair and makeup. It glorifies God in all its tenderness and toughness. We as women build up the kingdom with our evangelism, our close relationships, our service to our families, our careers, and some through teaching the Word.
Surely, sister, you know all this. But let me ask you: if you have reduced your sense of self-worth to a set of physical traits, how long until you reduce your sisters to the same?
As you look at yourself in the mirror, remind yourself what’s important. Your eyes have wept with those who weep. Your lips have proclaimed the truth of the gospel. Under your clothes is a heart filled with the Word, and under your hair is a mind capable of understanding and applying it. As you see this in yourself, it will become the first thing you notice about others as well. And oh, what a more joyful existence that will be.
God in His wisdom warned against idolizing our beauty. For many of us, myself included, our relationship with our appearance needs to change. We need to demote it to its proper place. It is not the most important thing about me, nor is it the most important thing about you. Save yourself the heartache, and find your worth in something that is not fleeting or deceptive: Christ.
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