"You will be a crown of splendor in the LORD's hand [the crown of creation], a royal diadem in the hand of your God." - Isaiah 62:3
Several years ago, I was picking my daughter up from summer camp when she ran to her cubby and excitedly retrieved a folded piece of paper that read: "To Mommy, From Chloe". She stood in front of me, in proud anticipation as I gently unfolded her daily masterpiece. It took my breath away. It was a drawing of a girl with long brown hair, completely enveloped in array of colors. No part of the paper was left untouched by her crayons. There were bright rainbows bursting forth, carefully crafted across the sky, on the girl’s dress, and in her hair. Even the dog and bird were alive with color. In the middle stood this girl with a flower in her hair and a big red smile on her face, beaming:
"Chloe, who is this?” I asked. "It's me!” she exclaimed. I smiled. Of course it is.
In that moment, my daughter saw a picture of herself and I saw through the lens of that drawing to a glimpse of her heart. At six, she was still completely innocent, and completely unblemished by the jaded cynicism of a self-deprecating culture. Three years later, I can say without hesitation that when that quiet voice within her asks, "Am I lovely?” she still knows the answer is "Yes, I am."
As a mother, I am so grateful that my little girl knows those answers in her heart. She knows that she is loved and cherished. She knows the truth of His word that tells us that she is both fearfully and wonderfully made; that He knit her together while she was in the womb. I am so thankful that she sees herself not only as I see her, but as her earthly father and her Heavenly Father see her: Perfect. Lovely. Flawless.
Sisters, can I both encourage you and challenge you, today, to see yourself this way?
I cannot shield my daughter from the warped perceptions of this world, but I can encourage her daily with truth spoken in love of who she is in Christ. Can I encourage you today to spur one another one with the same truth and the same love?
A few days ago, I had lunch with a group of friends. Afterwards, we posed for a photo outside the restaurant. Flashing smiles in the sunshine, we stood arm in arm. We’d just enjoyed a great meal, conversation and laughter. Looking at the photograph, I couldn’t help but think how blessed we were. I shared a copy via email and within minutes, each one of them replied and one by one, in every single response, they lamented over their perceived flaws. I realized of these five in the photograph, not one of them had even glanced at any of the others. The sunlight and blue skies and laughter and friendships all paled in comparison through the lenses of their hearts, warped and worn by lies.
I think back to the story of where this all began. There, in the garden. Eve, unashamed and unblemished. Until she bit into that fruit, from that tree – you know, the one with the knowledge of both good and evil. She ingested more than a bite of a forbidden fruit, she ingested a lie – and a worldview that would forever alter our ability to see ourselves as God sees us.
Could it be that we've fallen prey to the same cunning scheme of the very enemy of our souls, the one who desires to keep us in a continual state of defeat? As women of faith, we must learn to rise up and refuse to accept the lies of the enemy and lies of this world, for we are not unaware of his schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11). We must replace those lies with truth and ultimately, we must turn from our self-obsession and develop our Christ-affection. How do we do this? The same way we are to transform our minds, through His word: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Acts 12:2). We are transformed by the truth of His word and through Him, our vision is restored and renewed. He grants us the ability to see others and yes, even ourselves, through the lens of His word and His spirit as we are in Him: flawless.
As spring draws near, many women are facing the reality of failed resolutions and a looming swimsuit season. I believe that scores of us fall into a deeper season of "self-perception" and often, despair. As I pack my family for Spring Break, I’m tempted to fall into the same pit of discontentment. I get it. I really do. I know it well; I’ve wallowed in it more than a few times, but I am learning – slowly but surely – to step away from the mirror blurred by false perceptions and step into the reflective presence of His word, so that I may see myself the way He sees me.
May we become women who are more consumed living a life pleasing to the Lord than an image that is pleasing to the eye. May we become more concerned with the condition of our hearts than the number on a label or a scale.
How do we do this?
1) Cleanse the lens: We must experience the “washing with water through the word” so that we may see clearly and experience life to the fullest (Ephesians 5:26).
2) Redefine beauty: We must accept God’s definition of beauty instead of the world’s. It is beauty that 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).
3) Transform with truth: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).
When we do this, we not only begin to develop a healthier self-image, but a fully surrendered heart – so that we may live the abundant life to which He has called us. A life that doesn’t miss cherished moments or cherished memories or cherished photographs for the sake of perceived flaws. When we do this, the things that really matter shift into focus: we see the smiles, we hear the laughter, and we experience the real beauty that this life has to offer.
Nadia Wilder is a Southern girl by birth, saved by grace, mommy of two by blessing, and a writer by heart. She is passionate about her faith, family, photography and encouraging others to live abundantly in Christ. You can read more from Nadia at The Narrow Path Home.