Tag Archives: self esteem

Is Your Body a Temple or an Idol?

Standard

Last year a girl with an eating disorder crossed our path here in Costa Rica.  After she went home, we lost contact with her for a few months, until one day just recently one of our students asked if I had seen this girl’s Facebook page recently.  I had not.  I navigated to her page and gasped at the change in this girl.  Eight months had aged her 20 years!  When I knew her, she looked like a Barbie.  But her obsessive food rules, over tanning, and excessive exercising were already a problem for her. Now, she looked like a leather covered skeleton.

One of our students who was looking over my shoulder at the time looked into my eyes with a horrified gaze.  “Do you think that is a sin?”  he asked me.  “Isn’t our body the temple of the Holy Spirit?”

mary-kate-olsen-cover-of-w-magazine_lI pondered for a second.  “Yes.  Our body is the temple of the Lord.  But some people make it an Idol instead,” I said.  She became focused on having a perfect body and that’s what she did to her temple.  She placed her own body image in a higher priority than relationships with others or her relationship with God.  She found her self-worth in the gym instead of in Jesus.  She was hard on herself and critical of others.  She gloated over heavier women.  She became her own idol.

The world has a twisted version of perfection, especially where women’s body image is concerned.  It is not coincidence.  Satan has a special hatred for women which started in the Garden of Eden.  If he can get us to destroy our bodies, then we are just doing his job for him.  Think about it, Women.  Who controls the Fashion Industry?  Gay men.  This is why the body shape of a 10 year old boy is promoted as the perfect form and womanly curves are to be hated.  We continue to listen to women-haters telling us that we aren’t perfect enough.  In the process our Holy Temple becomes an Idol.

When my son was born, I held a scrawny, muscular baby in my hands and marveled.  When my first daughter was born, I felt the difference in her body shape the second she came into this world.  I felt her squishy bottom.  I noticed the pleasing pads of fat along the back of her hips already.  She was never plump, but she was definitely a girl.  Boys and girls come out of the womb with differences that should be celebrated.

God gave us our bodies to be reverently cared for as Holy Temples, useful for his purposes.  But when we elevate our ideals or our personal projection of beauty above our useful service to God, then we are sinning.  Our bodies are to be Temples, not Idols.

Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/tollieschmidt/3657519441/”>tollieschmidt</a&gt; / <a href=”http://foter.com”>Foter.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>CC BY-NC-SA</a>

“I am not worthless, You are not worth this”

Standard

All the words in bold are scripture verses from the book of the Bible called Song of Songs, or Song of Solomon.  It’s God’s love song to us, so I thought it was appropriate to highlight some powerful verses when talking about Love.

I picked up a few free songs on NoiseTrade the other day.  One song is called The Last Time by Kate Monaghan.  Check it out.  You might like some of her music.  Songs are really powerful things for me.  It’s the lyrics that draw me in, the poetry of a song that captures me.  This song is a break-up ballad.  These lines caught my attention though:

“Cause I am not worthless, you are not worth this.  Now matter what you say about me.

Cause I am not worthless, you are not worth this.  You’re not worth what I’ve done to myself.

Cause I am not worthless, you are not worth this.  You’re not my problem anymore.”

Even though I’m past that angsty teenage-heart-break phase of life (Thank God) I like the poetry of these lyrics.  They hold an important truth about the lies that we listen to and believe even as adults.  The very direct approach is that this song is about a girl singing about a loser boyfriend.  The indirect approach is any one of us throwing off the lies that have entangled us- telling that Snake that hisses in our ear to shut up and go away.  He only speaks lies.

“Do not arouse or awaken Love until it is ready.”

In the beginning, believing the lie that “I am worthless” leads a girl to give away things that she should never give away.  Then she settles.  She settles for less than what she’s worth.  She continues to tear off chunks of herself to feed to the lie, like feeding bread to hungry ducks.  The lie gets more bold and more agressive with each gulp of flesh, each pound of flesh.  What have you done to yourself, Girl?  You’ve starved yourself.  You’ve inserted things into your body that don’t belong there. You’ve given away more of yourself than you intended.  And now you are less, even less than you thought you were.  He doesn’t love you any more, he likes you even less.

“Catch the little foxes that ruin the vineyard.”

Little lies lead to bigger lies.  Little indulgences lead to large indiscretions.  The slope is steep and slippery.  Satan keeps lying to her.  He entices her to cut herself.  Then he accuses her for doing it.  You’re worthless.  And now look what you’ve done.  Didn’t I tell you you were bad?  That Snake won’t stop with just one bite.  He strikes over and over again.

What can she do?  How do you fight a Liar?  With the truth.  What truth do you know?

“I am not worthless!”  “I am my Beloved’s and he is mine, his banner over me is Love!”  Swing that sword, Girl.  You are Loved!

“I am not worthless!”  I sing with gusto!  I sing with personal conviction of one who knows she is loved.  “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come away with me.”  Fight, Girl.  Fight!  You’re worth it.

“I am not worthless.  No matter what you say about me.”  I know who I am.  Like a child who has been bullied, my Father God rises up in holy fury and flies to my rescue when I cry for Him.  Like a Momma Bear on the rampage, God defends me from the Liar.  I know who I am.  I am a precious child, valued and treasured.  Precious.  “How beautiful your sandaled feet, O prince’s daughter.”

Girl, you are not worthless.  You are the precious daughter of the God-King.  You are a Princess!

 Feel loved, feel wanted, feel desired… You are not worthless.

I set myself on fire!

Standard

When I was in high school art class we had an assignment to draw a self-portrait using colored pencils on black paper.  We were not allowed to use any skin tones, but we had to have at least three colors- a dark, a medium, and a highlight tone.

I quickly found my “zone” and focused in on my self-portrait.  I didn’t pay any attention to anyone around me for the duration of the class period.  When the bell rang and we turned in our drawings, I looked up for the first time and took notice of the other students around me.  All of the girls had chosen pretty pastel colors and had drawn soft, flowing pictures of themselves.  In contrast, I had chosen spicy colors:  red, orange, and yellow.  My features looked sharp and my long, wavy hair looked like flames!  What had I done?!  I instantly hated my self-portrait.

I got a fantastic grade on the picture, but I was ashamed that I didn’t look like the other girls’… soft, pretty, pastel.  No, I was bright, sharp and fiery!  It was not what I wanted to be, but that’s what had come out of me.  I didn’t care about the grade, I crumpled up the picture and tossed it into the trash.

My teacher saw me throw it away and pulled it out of the trash.  He asked me why I did that.  I just shrugged and said, I didn’t like my picture.  What I meant was, I didn’t like myself.  The next day when I came to class I was horrified to see my crumpled work of art hanging inside the locked display window in the hallway outside our classroom.  Why!?!?  Why had he done that?  I screamed dramatically when I saw it hanging in there all alone.  He said that he liked the picture.  It was well done and it really did look like me… on fire.

Even through I hated the contrast between myself and the other girls, my teacher saw the fire in me and wanted to feed that flame.  It took me a few years to embrace the fire in me, and when I finally did… it consumed me.

“He makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire.”  Hebrews 1:7 (taken out of context.)

I hate you, Victoria’s Secret

Standard

A few years ago I was sitting on the couch watching T.V. when a commercial for Victoria’s Secret came on.  Normally I reach for the clicker, but since I was all alone I let the commercial play.

Big mistake.  In under 30 seconds I felt terrible about myself.  Just moments before I was completely UNself-conscious, now I felt like a fat slob.  I reached for another Oreo and wondered, “How can a 30 second commercial make me feel SO inadequate?”

The power of those airbrushed images of women with beautiful, plastic bodies was staggering!  Suddenly, what I WAS was not enough.  I was not beautiful enough.  I was not skinny enough.  I was not immune to gravity enough (which doesn’t even make sense!).  My hair was not full enough.  My eyelashes were not long enough.  My undergarments were not sexy enough.  I was inadequate in every sense of the word, in my mind.

So I fought back with the only tool I had available- I posted a snarky remark on Facebook about how much I hate Victoria’s Secret for making me feel so disgusted with myself.  I only received a few comments, but the one from my brother-in-law still sticks in my head.  He simply said, “But Josh thinks you’re pretty great.”  And that’s all I needed to hear.  I only needed to be reminded that my loyal husband was the only one I wanted to please.  And never once has he complained about my figure.

It’s true, I am not what I was when I was 16 years old.  But then neither is Josh.  One time when I was complaining about how Motherhood had changed me, my husband casually asked me, “Which kid would you like to exchange for your youthful figure?”  That brought me back to reality.  I go back to this powerful thought over and over again in my battle against the images that the world tries to convince me to strive for.  I will never look like a Victoria’s Secret model, but my husband and children are not complaining.  So I should quit being so hard on myself.  After all, there’s more to me than the image in the mirror.

Growing old together is the main goal, not hanging on to your youth.

Narcissism: The Lie that teaches us we can be anything we want

Standard

When I was a little girl my parents were both hairdressers.  They were part owners in their own salon in Des Moines, Iowa.  Business was good.  I spent the first few years of my life running wild around the salon, eating sugar cubes in the break room, spinning on the pump up chairs, and chatting with the other hairdressers.  One afternoon I was thumbing through a hair magazine and I found a picture of a model with a perfectly smooth bobbed hairdo and bangs that fell straight across her eyebrows.  I fell in love… with the hair style.

I took the picture to my Dad and asked him to make me look just like this.  My Dad looked at the magazine picture, looked at my poofy, wavy hair with a strong cowlick in my bangs and asked me, “What do you like about this picture?”  I was 6-years old and couldn’t exactly pin point what I liked, but she was so different from the image I saw in the mirror.  I said I liked everything about her and wanted to look just like her.  “But Honey,” my Dad tenderly explained, “You’re not Asian.  You’re never going to look like this girl.”  I was devastated.  But it was the hard truth.

My parents never fed me the lie that I could be anything I wanted to be.  I remember when the whole “Self Esteem” movement hit the public schools around 5th grade.  (click here to read an article about the aftermath of our collective brain bath in narcissism.) My Dad said it was totally stupid.  “You can’t be anything you want to be.  You can’t be a boy, you can’t be a crowd, you can’t be a butterfly, you can’t be the President of France.  That’s a stupid thing to teach children!”  He was right.  Not only was it unrealistic, it was dangerous.

Slowly a generation of kids grew up thinking that they could be anything they wanted to be without ever putting in the hard work required to achieve anything.  It used to be that you had to DO something significant to be able to say that you were something special.  But apparently that was all wrong, apparently you just have to wake up in the morning to be considered special.  Remember the scene in the Pixar movie “The Incredibles” where Dash and his mom are talking about being Super heroes living amongst ordinary people?  Mrs. Parr says, “Everyone’s special, Dash.”  Then Dash mutters, “Which just means that no one is special.”

This generation of Special People truly believes that everyone who participates should get the same reward as the one who wins.  Everyone who wants to call themselves a leader should be able to self publish a few books and feel like a success- who cares if anyone is really following him or not.  The average Joe on the street is equal to the President even though their salaries are vastly different (as are pretty much every other detail of their lives).  Any child sitting in a public school classroom can aspire to be an astronaut… even though NASA is closed down now.  It doesn’t matter the circumstances that life has dealt you, you can BE someone… you don’t even have to want it badly enough, it’s just your birthright.

In the movie “The Iron Lady” Meryl Streep playing Margaret Thatcher delivers a line that is both powerful and true.  She basically says, “It used to be that you had to DO something, now it’s all about BEING someone.”  That is the essence of the Great Lie of Self Esteem, or as Lady Gaga put it, “I’m teaching people to worship themselves.”  But I, for one, plan to follow in the honest footprints of my parents who taught me that Life is hard and you must work hard for everything you earn.  And even then, no one is promising you that you will succeed at what you do.  But do it anyways because no one will just hand you your dreams while you’re sitting on the couch eating a bag of chips and watching “The Biggest Loser”… at least that’s not how Margret Thatcher became the first female Prime Minister of Great Britain.