For What It’s Worth


photo by Elena Lagaria

I’m 32 years old, but sometimes I share the thoughts of that 15 year old girl that I once was. Even though I’ve gained years and wisdom and maturity, there are times when my logic engages in tough battle with my insecurities. There are days when I look in the mirror and scrutinize the reflection, days when I study my legs and my stomach and offer a harsh critique. There are days when I forget from where my worth comes.

This weekend I listened to our pastor deliver a convincing sermon arguing that we’ve let culture shape our views in regard to fashion instead of our Christian values helping to shape culture. None of the ideas were new to me–our culture screams loud and clear that the perfect woman’s body screams ‘sex,’ and no woman can actually reach the ideal that they’ve set; no matter how a woman dresses, men have to take hold of their thoughts and are responsible for where their mind goes; and we parents have to communicate to our daughters that they carry far more beauty than what the world would try to tell them and that their worth comes from their Creator, not the label on their clothing.

I have heard these teachings before, but at the end of the sermon, I had tears in my eyes. Near the beginning of the sermon, our pastor played a clip of a 15 year old girl who looked closer to 25 explaining why she dressed as she did. She wanted boys to look at her, to desire her, because it was then that she felt she was worth something. She flaunted her body because she tied her value as a person to her physical appeal, and the reaction from boys validated these feelings.

Fifteen was a long time ago for me, but I remember. I never flaunted my body or dressed seductively–I knew in mind that acting that way was wrong and that any boy who wanted me solely for the way I looked was not a boy that I wanted for a boyfriend–but I still wanted that validation. I wanted to turn boys’ heads when I walked by; I wanted them to want me. And when that didn’t happen, I doubted that I had any beauty.

And, unfortunately, sometimes I still do.

More often than not, I feel good about myself. I have a husband whom I love and loves me, children who bring a smile to my face, and I don’t desire anything more. Yet, there are those days that sneak up on me, days when I hate my reflection, days when I doubt that anyone other than my husband could find me attractive.

A few months ago, my son asked me why I didn’t wear a shirt that showed my stomach when I worked out at the gym. Initially, I was taken aback that my five year old noticed the trend of skimpy work-out clothes. However, I explained to him that I wanted to dress modestly, so I wasn’t going to wear shirts that showed my stomach (and I really didn’t want to show my stomach, either).

And I meant what I said–I do want to dress modestly–but sometimes when I’m working out I wonder if I could cause a head or two to turn. It’s not that I’m interested in anyone other than my husband, but I have moments like that 15 year old girl. I have moments when I’ve measured my worth by the heads that I’ve turned instead of by the One who gave me my worth.

I am in control of my thoughts, and I can’t blame anyone for them but me, yet the culture of which I am a part doesn’t do much to chase away these lies, either.

The other day my daughter tried on a superhero costume. After many days of my girls dressing up with their brother and their cousin in his costumes, my sister decided to buy some female superhero costumes to join the mix. The girls’ hero was Diana, also known as Wonder Woman, so my sister excitedly presented this costume to Hannah Grace. After putting on boots that were a little too high and a skirt that was a little too short, Hannah Grace looked at her appearance and exclaimed, “My daddy would freak out!” My sister agreed and returned the costume for a more modest Captain-America’s-daughter-costume.

When my sister told me this story, I had to wonder how is it that my four year old has more sense of what is appropriate for a child than those who manufactured the costume? And why do we as parents perpetuate the idea that our daughters’ value lies in the sexiness of their bodies by the clothes that we buy for them?

I know some might think that Matt and I are too strict when it comes to our daughters. We’re not fans of dressing our little girls in two-piece bathing suits nor painting their fingernails painted bright pink. Some of the outfits or accessories that we say ‘no’ to aren’t bad–they’re just not for little girls. We want our daughters to hold on to their innocence. We want them to look like little girls, not teenagers, because some day they will be teenagers. And when that day comes, we want them to be content with how they are, not striving to look ten years older. We want them to feel beautiful because God made them beautiful, and His beauty does not come in a box of hair dye or a tight shirt.

Last Sunday I had tears in my eyes at the end of the sermon because my pastor was talking to me. I know the feeling of that teenage girl wanting to look older, wanting to attract young men by looks alone. I’ve know the feeling of that 32 year old woman who wonders if she could attract anyone. I’ve known the feeling of tying up my worth in the latest fashion trends and the firmness of my muscles.

And I know that I don’t want my daughters to know that feeling. I want them to believe the words we speak into them, that they are beautiful and kind and truly a gift. And I know that if they are to believe they are worth something, their mother needs to believe that she is worth something, too.

Linking up late with Michelle for ‘Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday.” These personal posts can take me awhile….

 

Have you ever fallen into the trap of tying your worth to your physical appearance alone? When you do find yourself placing more emphasis on the physical, how do you speak truth into yourself?

10 thoughts on “For What It’s Worth

  1. There was a lot in this blog that totally resonated with me! I felt the same way as a teen…and feel the same now. Sometimes still plagued by insecurities. But as I get older, I care less and less what other people think. It’s actually very freeing.
    Oh, abd I’m so glad to hear about your girl’s reaction to the WW costume. More smarts in her head than many marketing execs. Because you’re right, WW isn’t necessarily bad, but for children, no way!!

    Like

  2. Thank you.
    I needed this today.
    We went to the fair last night and I couldn't help but notice all the beautiful skinny little things in tight jeans, and how that compared to my full figured look.
    But, I did manage to get a hold of myself. It took fried pickles and a cheese on a stick to remind me that I like my life just the way it is….but I did it! 😉 LOL

    But, seriously, I really do appreciate your honest blogging. I look forward to your posts!
    Have you ever read the book "Captivating" by John & Stasi Eldredge?
    Your post made me think of it.

    Like

    1. Thank you, Christa. I appreciate your honesty. And by the way, fried pickles are awesome. I've heard some fairs have fried butter now, and that sounds disgusting. Anyway, I'm glad the pickles and cheese did the trick. :)I've never read “Captivating.” I guess I need to add that one to the long list of books I need to read!

      Like

  3. The honesty of your story is real and refreshing. I wonder how the whole church would change if all of us were as honest. We're all more alike than different. All humans want to be recognized as special. I think it's our fallen flesh that wanders from finding our uniqueness and comfort of who we are in God.

    Men are the same, we want to be respected for what we can accomplish. We want to be recognized for being individually important as well.

    I'm holding my breath, but more praying for my three daughters to find their value and beauty in God first. I think while my wife isn't perfect, she's been a pretty good role model. The one thing I've learned over the years, is I need to show my wife how individually beautiful she is to me, that goes a long way. In return I think she's learning to show me the respect we as men so value.

    This post is big. You've really opened a topic the church tries to avoid…

    Like

    1. You've made a lot of great points, Floyd. Husbands and wives need to learn to affirm each other in the areas you've mentioned. I'm just beginning to understand the whole respect thing, and I hope to do a better job showing my husband that respect he deserves. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

      Like

  4. So glad you linked this one up, Jennifer — so much real truth here. And I need to hear it…been wrestling with self-image lately.

    Like

  5. Great post, daughter. the Chistian values you are instiling in your (our grandchildren) children are and will continue to pay off. It started with you and your modesty and knowing what pleases God. Unfortunately, while we are on this earth, we are human and that human ego steps in and blinds us to what self worth really is.. Yes, it's pleasing to have a nice body and have people look and acknowledge by words or looks that you look GREAT! More importantly is the shape and condition of your heart that counts. By shape I mean is it a loving heart and is the condition of your heart willing to be a servant as Jesus desires. By the way, men at times will wonder if they still look good and turn heads. I put on a sleeveless, form fitting workout shirt when going to the gym, Considering my age, I might turn heads .. I did… many turned their heads the other way. Oh, well love, Dad

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s