“Everyone seems to be striving for the same ideal womanhood these days” said a friend during a conversation we had this week.
It kind of unsettled me, because while today there is SO much celebrating diversity, I believed there was truth in what she said. There is still this subtle undercurrent that has woven through our culture which whispers – We should be strong. We should be tough. We should be successful (whether at home or in your job, or both!). Cook these type of meals. Parent this way. Be fit like this. If you’re not that’s okay – you can do it anyway. You have everything inside you to do it all. To get the man you want. Achieve this by this age. And while this may look varied in different people, the pressure is essentially the same.
The extremely noticeable rise in depression and anxiety, along with an increased sense of hopelessness in our society has only shown me that perhaps, whatever we are pursuing is not working? It makes us more tired. More burned out. More lost, asking louder – what is the purpose of all this if it makes us unhappier and empty on the inside? The looking around us clearly doesn’t work. Nor does a overindulgent look at ourselves either. So what does?
While these goals are not bad things, and while I am not saying don’t pay attention to ourselves, I sometimes think – Have you focused SO MUCH on yourself that you’ve lost your focus on Christ?
There I said it. Bring on the hate. But for those willing to listen, bear with me and read on.
What if I said that there is a way to be strong and be beautiful, and whole, without needing to wear the crushing burden of being what everyone else is telling us? That it is not a chain, but a freedom? Jon Bloom put it perfectly when he said “Our identity is tied into what we really love, what we really want, what we really believe offers us hope.” What if I said this hope was not to be found in the world, or ourselves, but in a man named Jesus?
You see, essentially his message is this – The God of the universe died, FOR YOU. For every little piece of DNA that you possess.
The world doesn’t need more women tearing themselves up over all the little or big ways they feel wrong about themselves by the world’s standards. It needs women who know their weaknesses but trust in a God that says He doesn’t leave them where they are. He has promised that through the cross, He makes beauty from the ashes – and that He will transform us to be better day by day. It needs women like this who pin their confidence in Christ. And it needs women who let how God sees her be more important than how the world or even her own self sees her. And God has clearly said on the cross – you are a daughter of a king. You are redeemed. You are chosen. And above all, you are loved.
So for every time you look at what is around you, telling you that you need to be this or do this, look twice as much to God who created each of us uniquely for specific reasons or purposes. Each with our own set of strengths, weaknesses, talents, characteristics, personality traits, and body features. There is no other soul out there exactly like you. How you love people, how you are at work, how faithful you take care of your family even when no one seems to be looking, are all ways you can celebrate the unique way God made you. Being different is a gift.
So never let the things that make you special whisper into your ears and say you are lacking. And therefore must find. The girl who feels ugly, may look for her hope in an abundance of clothes, or starve her body, in the quest for beauty. The person who craves acceptance may strive to please everyone around them at the expense of themselves. The soul who yearns for love may look for it in the arms of someone they settle for in hopes of finding ‘the one’.
As we head into the new week ahead, let’s all aim to remember to be the best version of ourselves but from the right lens. Let’s remember that the God who sacrificed His very own son for us on the cross, this God’s view of you matters more than the world’s and our own. Let’s put our focus on that, and then slowly..slowly notice how that hope and anchor gives you freedom, and transforms your whole life.