I have a confession. I don’t look like Brad Pit, Hugh Jackman, or Liam Hemsworth. I don’t have bulging biceps or chiseled abs. I don’t have strong cheek bones or a defined jaw line. I’m not worth millions of dollars, nor do I have the adorations of fans everywhere. I’m willing to be you don’t either.
I have another confession. If I were a woman I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t look like Jennifer Aniston, Angelina Jolie, or Kim Kardashian. I imagine that I would never fit into those perfect jeans. My measurements would probably be some unique mixture of too big and too small. I imagine that no one would mistake me for someone destined for the runway. I’m willing to bet this would be true for you as well.
I had hoped that the constant pressure to fit in to what was popular would end after high school. I had hoped the stress of ‘not measuring up’ would end as I grew up. It doesn’t. It’s still there. There are still the constant barrage of voices that tell us what we should look like, dress like, act like, and be like. We hear them in magazines and advertisements, in movies and television shows.
For us guys, the culture holds up pictures of muscle-bound hunks with large bank accounts and a seeming endless line of romantic conquests. Apparently this is the standard of what it means to be a man. We need to be strong and muscular. We must be macho and independent, with the ability to fix everything with our own two hands. Of course, these qualities should be coupled with just the right mix of vulnerability and brokenness; this makes us loveable.
Gals, it seems that you should be curvaceous and exotic. You should dress provocatively and entice all the men around you; but you must still maintain a sense of innocence and purity. You should be rich and successful without having to work for it. You should be intelligent and driven, but these qualities should always take a back seat to your image and your sexiness. Your highest goal should be that of motherhood, but please make sure pregnancy doesn’t destroy your body.
You know, with all these voices floating around us, it’s easy to look in the mirror and believe that there is something wrong with what we see staring back at us.
But we would be wrong.
The Bible has a wonderful verse which shatters the lies peddled by the Hollywood machine. It’s from Psalm 139. In this Psalm, David says ‘I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.’ The word ‘fearful’ doesn’t mean frightening. It doesn’t mean scary. It means to be in a state of awe and reverence. The word literally means ‘to be awesome.’ Despite what the popular standards may say, the Bible is clear when it comes to these fundamental truths:
You are awesome. You are wonderful.
David sees himself as an act of divine intention. His frame is not hidden from God’s sight. His days are never found outside of God’s presence and care. David sees how God has intricately woven every facet of his personality and character. Like an act of intricate needlework, David’s life, body, and existence is a beautiful product of God creativity and care.
You know, we can spend so much time looking at ourselves and counting all things we can’t do and all the ways we don’t measure up. We stress over the sports teams we do not make, the popularities we do not have, and the situations that we are not invited into. When we stress on these things, these faulty standards have a way of eating at us from the inside out. We start to doubt our beauty, our intelligence, or our worthiness. After all, if it is really true that clothes make the man, and that diamonds are girl’s best friend, then we never fully uncover the true magnificence of who we are created to be.
But what if we did what David did? David praises God for who he is. What if we did the same? What if we looked in the mirror, and instead of focusing on all the perceived flaws and mistakes, we decided to view ourselves as a created masterpiece? Instead of listening to all the voices of the culture that try to tell us who we are not, what if we listened to the voice of our creator who declares to us who we are? Do you think some things would change? Do you think that maybe we would have a harder time condemning ourselves? Do you think that maybe we would love our selves more? Would this, in turn, help us love one another?
Why don’t you try it? Look in the mirror sometime in the next week and praise God. Instead of nitpicking on all the flaws that only you are aware of, see how awesome you are. Look in the mirror and praise God for the divine masterpiece that you see staring back at you. That’s what God wants of all of us. That’s the root of our confidence, our self-assuredness, and our identity.
You may not look like the stars and starlets of celebrity glam. So be it, neither do they. This doesn’t deny what the Bible says. Despite whatever criteria the world of popularity may throw at you, the truth of scripture is written down for all to see and accept:
You are awesome. You are wonderful.