Sometimes it’s hard for women to believe that there’s anything pretty about themselves, but Tamyra Horst challenges that assumption.
My husband thinks I’m beautiful. I’ve responded to his compliments in a myriad of ways, most of them not positive. Some of them have even gotten me words of reproach and sad looks.
But I’m trying to accept Tim’s compliments, to believe that he thinks I’m beautiful. I’m beginning to come to terms with the idea that there really is some beauty in me, that my husband isn’t totally crazy. His words make me smile, sit a little straighter, try a littler harder.
I’ve never thought of myself as pretty, let alone beautiful. I have too many freckles, an overabundance of gray hair, a few too many pounds, and wrinkles are beginning to etch themselves around my eyes. The list of complaints about my body goes on and on. If I could, there’s more that I’d change than keep the same.
But I’m trying, like exercising regularly, eating better, and reminding myself that real beauty shines from the inside out. (That’s what my mother always told me.) I’m also trying to walk more confidently.
And Tim is cheering me on every step of the way. He walks with me early in the morning or on Saturday afternoons. He tells me how much he appreciates my efforts to take care of myself. And he keeps telling me that I’m beautiful. When he does, I forget my negative thoughts, smile, and simply say, “Thanks.” I’m learning to live with the idea that maybe there’s something pretty in me after all.
God’s love for me
One night as I thanked God for a husband who sees beauty where I can see none, I was stunned by the thought that Tim’s love is a reflection of God’s love for me. If I can learn to accept Tim’s love and revel in it, then maybe I can do the same with God. I can believe that He sees me as perfect, a woman who is capable and gifted. I’m trying to understand that just the thought of me causes Him to break into song (Zephaniah 3:17).
All I see in myself is sin and selfishness. My will is too weak; my courage, too faulty. I feel inadequate, incapable of accomplishing anything important. I feel like I have no talents. I’m just a very messed up person.
But His love makes me perfect.
It’s nothing I’ve done. I’m forgiven, changed. There’s no reason to feel guilty anymore, no reason to focus on my sinfulness. Instead, God wants me to focus on the One who makes me fully perfect.
He longs for me to believe that He sees me as capable, and when He brings an opportunity my way, I shouldn’t beg Him to find someone more able, more adequate, more spiritual. I should believe that He knows what needs to be done, and He will give me the ability to carry out what He asks me to do.
Learning to live what God believes about me is hard. What I’ve believed about myself all along is so ingrained in my thinking, but I remind myself of His words of love and delight for me in the Bible. I memorize them, repeat them, and exercise my faith by stepping out of my comfort zone into the opportunities He gives. Believing that He will accomplish through me what He has called me to do, I find that He does.
God thinks you’re beautiful too. He sees you as capable, gifted, and perfect. He knows that with Him on your side, everything He calls you to do, you can do. You are His delight, His treasure, the apple of His eye (see Psalm 17:8).
Are you living in that belief?
Most of us don’t really believe in ourselves. We doubt in the core of our being that there’s anything lovable or beautiful in us. We too easily see the faults, the mistakes, the failures. We worry about the extra pounds and growing wrinkles. We wish we were taller, shorter, thinner. We long for other people’s abilities instead of our own—if we even believe that we have any. We just don’t like ourselves.
When I read that four out of five American women were dissatisfied with their appearance, I wasn’t surprised. Every woman I know would change something about herself. But it did surprise me that only 2 percent of American women surveyed described themselves as beautiful. And that 33,000 women told researchers that they would rather lose 10 to 15 pounds than achieve any other goal.
Any other goal!
It’s an attitude we’re passing on to our daughters. While only one out of ten high school girls is overweight, nine out of ten high school juniors and seniors diet, and 81 percent of ten-year-old girls is afraid of being fat. Two-thirds of eighteen- to twenty-five-year-old girls surveyed said that they would rather be mean or stupid than fat.
But God wants us to like ourselves. He does. He loves us. And He desires us to value ourselves with the price that He paid for us. He paid the ultimate price: His Son. What value we have to Him! In order to accept the value that He gives, to believe the beauty that He sees, we have to relearn. Undo all that we’ve told ourselves for years. And remind ourselves of God’s love and value.
How to change our thinking
I’ve discovered seven things I can do that help me to be more realistic about myself, and I’d like to share them with you.
1. Be realistic. We’re all different sizes and shapes. The models we see on magazines are 20 to 30 percent underweight and have had a team of physical trainers, makeup artists, hairstylists, fashion designers, photographers, and airbrushing experts to achieve their look. Most of us are never going to look like them. And that’s OK!
2. Remind yourself that you are so much more than your appearance. Don’t let your looks or size be your identity. Women surveyed listed happiness, kindness, confidence, dignity, humor, wisdom, intelligence, and faith as more important than physical appearance. Live like it.
3. Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparing creates an atmosphere of competing. We can’t accept or care about others if we’re comparing and competing with them.
4. Take care of yourself. Do the things that make you feel good about yourself. Exercise. Take a bubble bath. Wear pretty clothes. Try new hairstyles. Splash on a fragrance you love. Pamper yourself. Taking care of yourself shows that you care about you.
5. Learn something new. Take on a challenge. Try a class you’ve always wanted to take. Make a list of things you’d like to do, and start doing them.
6. Watch your language. God doesn’t like people talking bad about His children, and you’re His child. Don’t put yourself down. Accept compliments graciously.
7. Tell yourself the truth. The devil is constantly feeding us lies about ourselves. He wants us to believe that we’re not beautiful and that we have no value so that he can render us useless. Immerse yourself in God’s truth. Create a journal of verses that tell what God thinks of you. Write your name in them.Personalize them. Make them yours and believe them.
God declares in Jeremiah 31:20: “ ‘You are my dearest son, the child I love best. Whenever I mention your name, I think of you with love. My heart goes out to you; I will be merciful’ ” (TEV). It’s time we live like we believe it.