Little kids often go through an inquisitive phase that wreaks havoc on their parents’ hairlines. “Why?” they ask. Not once. Not twice. Always.
“Why is the sky blue?”
“Why do dogs bark?”
“Why does Melissa get to watch R-rated movies and I don’t?”
Fortunately my parents’ brown locks still sprout from their scalp, refusing to be a casualty to their daughter’s curious mind. However, I never truly transitioned out of that phase, so my scrutinizing brain has now been unleashed on my husband. Poor guy. All too often he gets the pleasure of hearing my absurd, unanswerable questions:
“Why are cavemen always portrayed as being White?”
“Why do people think “crummy” means “bad” when everyone knows the tiny bits at the bottom of the bag are the best part?”
“Why is it so easy to believe a lie and so difficult to trust truth?”
And, most recently: “Why is my God-sized dream of being a faith writer worth pursuing, fighting for, and seeing through no matter what happens?”
My inquisitive mind – though confined to a war zone of other distracted thoughts constantly bombing my brain – can’t simply stop at a question. Usually, I need some sort of closure. Some sort of resolve. Some sort of tie to my loose end.
Frequently, I never find it. But in the case of my God-sized dream: Eureka! To me, I am passionate about letting other people know they are both loved and beautiful just by being themselves. In fact, they are MOST loved and beautiful when they are being true to themselves. It doesn’t matter how someone’s hair frizzes when it’s hot outside. Or the width of their shoulders or hip bones. Or the lack of a flat belly.
Peter says, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self…which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (1 Peter 3:3-4).
And yet, this year alone, 13 million Americans will binge eat, 10 million American women will struggle with anorexia or bulimia, and 1 million men will battle the same diseases. We fight the mirror so much and so often, our citizens spend $40 billion dollars each year on dieting supplies. Dieting has become so unhealthfully infused with our culture that 80% of all 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat and 42% of all 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner. By the time these young girls have hit 13, 80% of them will have attempted to lose weight. Once they’re in college, that percentage increases to 91%. Somehow food – instead of the false definition of beauty – has become the enemy. So much so that people are willing to die for the cause, giving eating disorders the highest mortality rate of any mental illness (and keep in mind that 1-in-5 Americans suffers from some sort of mental illness).
I’ve never even seen you and I can say with confidence that you are beautiful exactly as you are. The truth is you are the most beautiful you there will ever be. Why?
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
– Psalm 139: 13-15
He created you with such precision and such intention that He even knows how many hairs are on your head (Luke 12:7). Who are we to challenge God’s perfection with our limited understanding of beauty? His creation – YOU – were created with a purpose. You weren’t mindlessly thrown together out of trash and scraps. You were fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator. And His works are wonderful. That includes every bit of your body.
But why is it so easy to believe a lie and so difficult to trust in truth?
I have personally witnessed girls and women of every age abuse their body with insults. On several occasions, I have cringed at the harsh action they took because they believed the lies on their lips. And, for a while, I joined them.
One group that gets overlooked in this whole debacle is female athletes. Many people are aware of the devastating statistics regarding eating disorders in judged sports like dance and gymnastics; however, most people never consider that female athletes in refereed sports also experience body image issues. Yet, the prevalence of eating disorders in the athletic population is 11% higher than the general public.
They are told by their coaches that they have to be big and strong, but they are told by society that they have to be slim and sexy. It never crosses the wavelengths of conversation that that dichotomy is actually nonexistent – strong and sexy can be the same thing. So, athletes – especially athletes at a higher level – take physical beatings in training, then compound those blows by not refueling properly.
That’s why my first work, the novel I began last summer, focuses on two women – a mother and her daughter – after a divorce splits the family. Crushed by the infidelity of her husband, the mother wrongly concludes that her marriage would have lasted if she were thinner, taller, or prettier. Likewise, her daughter, an athletic 16-year-old basketball star, also begins to question her body. In the end, only Jesus can shatter their false image of beauty, replacing the lie with His loving embrace. But can they accept the Truth before becoming yet another statistic?
Read an excerpt here.