It’s funny how the way that we look (and the way that others look) is one of the things that has become so very important to us. We spend time and energy trying to make ourselves look acceptable before we go out. We dress a certain way, do our hair a certain way, look a certain way, so that we can look like the person that we want to convince the world that we are. Often we find friends to hang out with that look like us, or we change the way that we look in order to fit in with them. Looks are generally one of the first things that you’ll notice about a person, and people can be judged so harshly based on the way that they look.
When someone takes a photo of you and your friends, what’s the first thing that you look for? Yourself, right? Me to – we all do it. If everyone else in the picture looks great by I don’t, then it’s a bad picture – but if everyone else in the picture looks bad and I look good, then I’m fine with it!
I think that’s part of the reason that we use social media in the way that we do, right? We take the “perfect” selfie, we spend time putting the right filter on it and cropping it to get rid of that bit of our face that we don’t like – and then we wait for the comments and likes to come in. If people don’t tell us that we look good, how will we feel like we’re worth anything?
We like a selfie because we have the power to take, retake and get that perfect picture… and then no-one has to see the ones that we rejected. We take twenty different photos at different angles, until we find the one that we like. And then we tweak it: adjust the lighting, put on a filter or three, until it doesn’t look like the original photo at all. We can crop it so that little square doesn’t show that stray hair, or your forehead that you’re convinced is too big.
But I wonder how different our day would be if, first thing in the morning, we started from a place of knowing that we are attractive, and that we are acceptable; not based on the way that we try to look for other people, or the clothes that we had picked out, but just us.
I’ve recently tried to change the way that I look in the mirror in the morning, and as part of this I have stopped weighing myself completely (you can read more about this here) – we know, and have probably been told many times, that God does not think about the way that we look in the same way that we do. In 1 Samuel 16:7, we see God speaking to the prophet Samuel about the choice of who He will appoint as the king, and God says this: “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things that people look at. People look at outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”.
We’ve probably heard that verse before, but if you’re anything like me, it can be difficult to stand on that, and really let it affect the way that you see yourself. The Lord looks at the heart, you might think, but the rest of the world looks at the face. The rest of the world looks at my weight, and my clothes, and my hair that doesn’t do what I want it to do.
But, knowing the truth of who we are, and of what God thinks of us, it physically changes who we are, how we live and what that looks like. Psalm 34:4-5 says that those who look to Him are radiant, and that their faces are never covered in shame. When Moses came down from the mountain where he had been talking with God, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord” (Exodus 34:29).
Trying to convince yourself that you are beautiful might not work. Feeling bad because your “natural” beauty doesn’t measure up to the “natural” beauty that you see in other people (which may or may not be natural) probably won’t work.
But believe me – looking at God makes you beautiful. Letting Him flood you with His joy, and His peace, and His wonder – that makes you beautiful. Knowing who you are and knowing who your Dad is – that makes you beautiful.