By Lisa Hamel
If you had known me in college you would have known an over achieving, perfectionistic, people pleaser who loved Jesus but couldn’t give herself grace.
I struggled for years with body image issues. Back then we counted fat grams and though I never missed a meal, I obsessed over how I looked. I now have an auto-immune disease that requires a pretty strict diet. While I used to worry over finding a low fat option, now I just want to find anything I can eat! I used to want perfect muscles, now I just want to be strong enough to manage a child who is throwing a fit.
Over the years, the Lord has done a mighty work in my heart and I now have some pretty strong convictions about how much value we place on appearance. I don’t want to come across preachy because these convictions are just that..…my convictions. I just want you to know that I have traveled a rough road with these issues. I believe that as Christians we are a walking billboard for what matters to God’s heart.
Because of this long, strange journey with self image and health, I want to ask you three questions about beauty.
1. Have you accepted how God made you? Do you believe God is sovereign? He made you with all your wonders and faults for a reason. We may think we could have designed a better version of ourselves, but God doesn’t make mistakes. For some reason he gave me the hair, high forehead, and square shoulders that I have. The sooner I accept that, the sooner He can really use me because I’m not ensnared in the distractions of this world. I do choose to take care of myself by wearing bangs and NOT wearing shoulder pads! I do what I can and then rest the rest because He knows best.
2. Do you trust God to hold your marriage together or are you falsely believing that your efforts at the gym/salad bar/plastic surgeon are going to keep him interested?
It took me years to realize this insidious lie in my own heart. I thought it was my job to keep my husband faithful. What an insult to my husband! And what an insult to God! There is certainly work for us to do in our marriages like healthy communication, honor, and romance. All of these take our effort, but it is God who holds things together.
Physical attraction in marriage is important and it’s great to take care of yourself for your husband. But there is a step beyond taking care where you may be motivated by fear. So check yourself. Examine your heart and how much value you place on external things.
Through my years in counseling and church ministry, I have seen time and again that beauty does not keep a husband faithful. It is a heart issue in the man, not a body issue with his wife.
3. How do you speak about yourself around your kids? If you haven’t accepted how God made you in your heart, it will probably flow out of your mouth!
Luke 6:45b says, “For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks"
It can happen so fast, especially when we are around friends or other moms who are lamenting the effects of age or giving birth.
Oh be careful busy mom, what you say.
In how you speak about yourself, you are sending a powerful message to your children.
You see, you are a Supermodel. You are modeling for your daughters AND sons how much they should value beauty. If you’re always talking down about yourself– your weight, your nose etc.–you can be sure that your daughters will absorb that same belief. Your sons may also place more value on those things as they grow older.
If you have truly accepted that God has intentionally created you as you are, you will be freed up to thank him for all your blessings. Your words will be full of the wonder and joy that spill over when we know we are adored by the King.
My boys hear me say that I’m thankful I have the strength to dance and hike and that I want to be strong enough to chase my grandkids someday (WAY) in the future. I tell my boys that I’m proud of my age and don’t deny it or try to hide it because it means I’ve learned so much more, plus I’m closer to heaven! I also explain to them that as women get older their bodies store more and more fat. So yes, I have cellulite because I’m human and I’m ok with that. I try to keep it scientific and devoid of shame. Yes, mom has saggy elbow skin. That happens as we age. And if we can accept it, so can they.
Now please know that I still have to fight the lies of this world too. But this is a battle worth fighting. I cling to this verse often.
Colossians 3:3 says, “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”
Ultimately we only have so much energy in our lives. If we invest a majority of that energy in the superficial stuff of this life, we won’t have the fullness of joy and peace we could. It is in this “hidden-ness” that we sense the most glorious affection from Jesus.
When we behold Jesus in worship, we realize how beautiful He is. How great and worthy of all worship. And on a very secondary note, we realize that He sees us as beautiful too.
Lisa is currently "SAHM-ing." In the past she has been a pastoral counselor, a singer, a music director, and an accountant! She lives in a multi generational home in the Pacific Northwest with her two boys, her amazing husband, and her mother. She is a coffee snob and a health nut who loves to dance like no one is watching. Check her out on Instagram and Facebook!