A Prayer for When the World Tries to Tell You Who to Be
By Molly Law
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” - Psalm 139:13-14
According to a new special report by 60 Minutes, social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok are steering young users, some as young as 11, to accounts that promote anorexia and self-harm. While this is very upsetting and unconscionable, studies have also shown that the use of these social media platforms leads to lower self-esteem and depression.
While social media and this technology are new, the pressures that come with the beauty standards of the world are not. The world tries to tell women they should look like Margot Robbie, Keira Knightly, or Zendaya. The world tries to tell men that they should look like Chris Hemsworth, Dwayne Johnson, or any other famous Chris.
As these archetypes of conventional beauty are lifted up in society, it can be difficult to see and believe there is beauty to be found in everyone. The world will tell you that physical beauty is all that matters; the enemy certainly wants you to believe it until you feel depressed, worthless, and hopeless.
The world is very tricky, yet also very transparent. The standards of beauty are fickle and change almost every decade. In the 1940s, the standard of beauty for women was tall, slim brunettes. A fit man in the early 20th century was lean with toned arms and legs. The mechanics of developing pecks and abs had not been invented, so they were not the standard for beauty. Yet we see in the 1950s, the standard of beauty for women shifted to curvy, short blondes, as reflected in Marilyn Monroe.
Even though the pressures of looking a certain way change with the seasons, that does not mean their effect on our psyche is any less damaging or intense. We see that in the number of depression cases, bullying, and even deaths by suicide in teenagers today.
Whereas the world is a liar and flighty, we know that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is always constant; he is always loving and always faithful. We know that our Lord looks at the heart as the standard of beauty.
Scripture tells us that the Lord chose a small, young David out of his physically strong and older brothers to be the King of Israel. God also reveals to David in the Psalms how he creates each and every one of us. He tells him that we are carefully created; we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
The fact that our souls are the ones that will exist after death and our physical bodies will die and turn to dust shows how much our character, our personality, and a soul that chooses the Lord for salvation matter above our physical appearance.
I know that the world speaks loudly and convincingly that the only thing that matters is the way we look, and any other message is patronizing and a lie. But I pray that your message about our inner beauty and intricate creation will overcome the world's lies. I pray that everyone knows how beautiful they are inside and out — that the mechanics of human attractiveness is far different than the narrow and shallow narrative of popular culture. Lord, be with young teenagers and adults who are inundated with images deemed as beautiful and acceptable in today’s society. I pray that they know your truth and hope for a better tomorrow that is not dictated by social media.
I pray for their parents that they have the right tools to navigate their children’s anxieties, perceptions, and mental health. I pray that we all know who we were created by and how we were created. We pray for your guidance and overwhelming presence as the world tries to yell, lie, and manipulate us into looking a certain way to be happy and successful. Help us drown out the voices that come to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10). We love and trust you with all of our hearts, our Lord our God.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/thinkstock/tommaso79
Molly Law is the Editor of C.com. She has a Master of Arts in Publishing Studies from the University of Stirling, UK, where she studied and lived for a year in Scotland. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Professional Writing from Gardner-Webb University. Her editorial career includes Senior Editor of a bimonthly magazine for the nonprofit ACA and Editorial Assistant at Luath Press in Edinburgh, UK. She enjoys reading 18th-century British Literature, creative writing, and traveling.
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Originally published Monday, 27 March 2023.