I know that I care how I look, and most women I meet spend a lot of time thinking about how they look too. I know young women that are afraid of getting pregnant because of how it will change their bodies. The last time I visited with my grandmother, who gave birth to seven children, she notice my baby belly, and as she patted her own, speculated on how to get rid of it. I told her we would have to trick our bodies into starving, and that sit-ups don’t work. I know that my husband cares how I look, and I try to look thin without being too tall when he takes me out on a date. I’m not sure if my friends care, but I know in a room full of women we are all checking each other out from head to toe.
But the harder question to answer is “Does God care how I look?” Some overly pious Christians might argue that He doesn’t care how you look because God looks at the heart. This is part of the truth, but it’s an easy, one-dimensional answer to one of the deepest, most complicated questions women ask. Most of us know that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” But one girl admitted to me she thinks that means the inside beauty and not the outside looks. Most of us would agree that we know He thinks we are beautiful, but we must also admit that most days that knowledge isn’t enough. Why don’t we believe we are beautiful? Why doesn’t this knowledge keep us from shopping and vomittng so we can be “beautiful”?
How we wrestle with this issue reveals what we truly believe about God. As I have wrestled, I have realized that when I look at the mirror and criticize what I see, I despise God’s creation. When I look at my hair and wish it were curly instead of straight, I say that God didn’t know what He was doing when He put me together. When I complain about having big feet, I say that I know better than the creator of the universe how to put my body together. When I look in my closet and declare that I have nothing to wear, I despise the gifts He has already given of multiple pairs of shoes and some really nice clothes. When I go to the store and put those must-have pieces for my wardrobe on a credit card, I shout that I’m tired of waiting for God to meet my needs.
Have you ever considered that God made Zaccheus short? If Zaccheus was tall, he wouldn’t have climbed the tree. God created him and orchestrated his life so that his path would intersect with Jesus on earth. So if God made Zaccheus short, then God made me tall. God made Esther beautiful. He used her beauty to get her exactly where He needed her to be, the heart of the king’s palace with the king’s ear. Esther is that she never trusted in her beauty to save her. She placed herself in God’s care, under His authority, when she went into the king without an invitation. God also made Rachel beautiful and her older sister, Leah was not quite as beautiful. But God gave Leah other gifts, like a fertile womb. Jacob just looked at her and she got pregnant with 11 children. Rachel, the beautiful one, would have traded it all to have just one child. However both the beautiful and the not-so-beatufiul became the mothers of the nation of Israel. Perfectly created to be part of God’s perfect plan of redemption. Zacchaeus, Esther, Rachel and Leah were all fearfully and wonderfully made.
I may not always like what I see when I look in the mirror, but I can not despise what God has done. He put me together exactly the way He needed me to be from head to toe. I’m not crazy about the way my belly looks after four kids. But that’s what happened when God asked me to carry four beautiful children. And they love playing with my jiggly belly. Maybe someday he will provide money for a tummy tuck, but not today. So I must be wise with what I eat and how I exercise, and choose to be content with the result. I choose to see it as God sees it, and not call it ugly or disgusting. I can not despise what God has done. “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them?” (Numbers 14:11)
When I despise the way I have been created, I despise the Creator. I call him a fool for making me the way he did. When I’m disgusted with my body or discontent with my closet, it is a sign of unbelief. I accuse him of not seeing and not caring about one of my deepest needs…to feel beautiful. If you despise how God has created you and what he has given you, repent and believe. Ask him to forgive you and choose to believe that he cares how you look. He cares about how you see yourself and what you say to yourself in your head. He knows it all. He made you exactly as he needs you to be to get you to where you need to be to meet him.
The question is this: Can Jesus give you affirmation for how you look? Can you look to him to meet this need instead of rushing off to the store to buy a new blouse? Can he meet this need instead of running to the bathroom to throw up? Can he fulfill this longing that every woman has to feel beautiful? Can he replace the lies the mirror tells you with the truth of how he sees you? Will you turn and believe?