You are beautiful.
You are unique.
You are special.
There is no one else just like you.
Sound familiar? We’ve been fed lines like this and saturated by cliched sayings in books, movies, magazines, etcetera since we were very young. And all these things are completely true.
The difficulty is, do we believe them?
Just Five Things
A few years ago, Zach and I were working through a marriage bible study together. I immensely enjoyed our evening study sessions together until one day it hit a little too close to this sore spot. The wife was assigned the task of listing five things… exactly five, no more no less… five physical attributes that she liked about herself.
I couldn’t do it. I was in tears before the list was completed.
Now, I don’t have an unhealthy self-image. I do believe all of the things listed above about myself. But we live in a world that tries to ground our self-esteem in words externally bestowed by people who only look skin deep or by things that don’t matter. Being told that we are beautiful and special superficially only makes it worse.
You see, there’s nothing wrong with believing that we are beautiful and special and unique. It doesn’t make you vain, or proud, or unrealistic. This is all true. But the problem is that’s only half of the picture.
We are also broken. Completely. Utterly.
We fall short of our own expectations and the world’s standards all the time. Daily we face the toxicity of our insecurities, the coveting heart ever comparing and never satisfied, the unrelenting frustration that we can’t be who we want to be. Reaching deep within ourselves we look for satisfaction and continually come up empty.
In our heart of hearts, it’s all too easy to teeter back and forth between these two equally accurate but seemingly opposing truths: being beautiful and being broken.
And the question remains, on which side do I find my identity?
The dictionary defines “identity” as
Hmmm… the “qualities” or “beliefs” that distinguish us? We’re more than swarmed with advice on where to find these qualities that make up identity.
Is it the number on the scale?
How fast or far you can run?
What name brand you choose to wear?
How friendly or popular you are?
How about the car we drive?
Or how well-behaved our children are?
Maybe our job status or performance or acclaim?
More likely our salary?
Maybe our sexuality?
Or our relationship status?
Or political stance?
Is it our social media presence?
Is it living a good, productive, and upstanding life?
The list goes on and on and always leads to the same place. Anytime we place our identity in anything that comes from us, we come up short and end up disappointed.
So, then we look outside ourselves. At our fundamental core, we long for relationships as part of our design. We use our relationships to gauge our progress; to be a litmus test for how we should feel about ourselves.
The problem with this form of identification in all of our human relationships comes from the severe tainting of this sticky little thing called sin. So we end up disappointed. Again.
Until we discover our identity in Jesus Christ and firmly ground it there, only then do we find ourselves and see us as we truly are:
Released from bondage.
Engraved on His palms.
Chosen to be His.
Blameless and filled with joy.
Our vertical relationship informs our horizontal relationships and when my identity is placed in Christ, I better understand my place, my purpose, my reactions, my failures, others’ failures, and my perspective.
If my relationship with my creator is suffering, all my other relationships, including the way I relate to myself and my shortcomings, suffer too.
Realize that in your brokenness, you were made beautiful. In your failures, you were made successful. So with your identity firmly established in your Savior, you (and I) can say with confidence,
I am beautiful, special, unique, and made complete in Christ.”
I don’t need a magazine or celebrity to tell me that I’m special nor do I want a cliche instructing me how to view myself. We can know and love ourselves just as we are… Just ourselves… because of how the one who made us sees us. Jesus sees our value and worth in our brokenness and He intends it for good. That is what makes us beautiful.