In the tenth grade I went on a dare with my sister to see who could go the longest without eating anything. As we both had a few pounds to lose, my mother encouraged the competition. I was really happy when nearing the end of day three my sister called to tell me to go ahead and eat. She had caved. Hoorah!
Going a day or two without eating was my modus operandi for many years. Just to keep within the normal weight range. I never crossed over into anorexia or bulimia. My obsession with food took (takes) the form of binging but without the purging.
I used to kind of envy women who engaged in bulimia. At least they look good! I envied them a little, that is, until I got to really know a girl who battled it. It was horrible. The lengths she went to make herself purge were painful and extreme. Her toilet was her closest friend. She was damaging her body and ravaging her soul. Tormented, she was obsessed with food. Trying desperately to control her world, she found that bulimia was controlling her. She was motivated by fear and a deep self-loathing that no physical purging could exorcise.
I know many young women who have struggled with anorexia as well. Except in extreme cases, these girls can look pretty good too. From a distance. But they are on a rigid regime of self-deprivation and intense exercise fueled by fear and self-hatred. They aren’t free. They are slaves to calories and nutrition labels. Their efforts to control their lives turn on them viciously. Their periods stop, they are cold all the time, and the damage to their internal organs can become irrevocable. One gal I love was nicknamed “Skelly” because she looked like a walking skeleton. But not to herself. What she saw when she looked in the mirror was quite different.
Honestly, the ability to look in a mirror and see what everyone else sees is rare. We see our flaws. They might as well be blinking in neon orange. We can’t see past what other people do not even notice.
(Sweetheart, if you struggle with an eating disorder, know that you are not alone. To become free of it—free from the desperate need to control your food, free from obsessing over it, free from the emotional suffering—you need help. This battle is not one you will be able to fight on your own. To be free from this horrible struggle you are enduring, please confess it to your parents, your pastor, a teacher, or a counselor. Help is available. You can be free. This overwhelming struggle is keeping you from living the life you are meant to live and offering what you are meant to offer. We need you.)
Your beauty is under siege. It is being harassed and taunted and mocked because it matters. You matter. The enemy of your soul attacks the core of your heart by attacking your beauty in order to pin your heart down and keep you from being the young woman you truly are. You are a powerful child of God. Your beauty is powerful. As an image bearer of the living God, you possess a beauty that is deep and true and core to your soul. It manifests itself on the outside but is first and foremost an inward quality. It blooms in the soil of confidence, assurance and a happy heart.
Beauty Secret: We are at our most outwardly beautiful when we aren’t obsessing over our outward beauty.
The apostle 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, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:3–4).
Peter is not saying, don’t fix your hair or wear jewelry. He isn’t saying, “only wear frumpy, out-of style clothes.” No! He is saying, don’t fixate on your outward appearance but center your attention on your heart.
“A gentle and quiet spirit” does not refer to a woman who barely talks above a whisper and never gets angry. “A gentle and quiet spirit” speaks of a heart that is filled with faith. Not doubt. Not fear. Not anxiety. Faith. Beauty flows from the heart of a young woman who is resting in the truth that she is loved, seen, known, wanted, and lovely to her heavenly Father. Right now. That young woman lives with self-confidence. And self-confidence is beautiful.
You can have that. You are a true beauty. Really. And it is right and good that you want to be because you are a reflection of Beauty, Himself.
Ask God to show you your beauty.