It ain't easy being a teen... and Jackie O. understands that well. Take her sound, faith-filled advice as we walk with God together.
A few weeks ago my husband Arnie gave me a lovely compliment. As we were leaving the house to go to Sunday worship, he said, "You'll be the most gorgeous girl in the church."
I shuttered. My mind clogged with self doubt. Me? Gorgeous? The most gorgeous?
I quickly countered, "In this old dress? No, I won't be gorgeous. My hair's even flat today."
Sadly, practicing self-doubt is an unhealthy and critical skill I learned in my youth, like most women.
Arnie smiled at me with reassurance. I tried to smile back. I wished I could have received his compliment with a cheerful heart. I wondered why it is so hard for me to see myself the way he sees me.
No matter how healthy your self image is there are days when all of us experience uncertainty.
The New York Times published a women's health report on self-esteem issues and teenage girls that cited a Commonwealth Fund survey of 3,586 girls in grades 5 through 12. The findings showed that "more often than not, young girls entering puberty experience a crisis in confidence that renders them vulnerable to risky health behaviors that they may not have the strength or will to resist."
In the report, the Commonwealth Fund survey revealed that “by high school age, only 39 percent of girls were highly self-confident and that older girls had less self-esteem than the younger ones." It also stated, "girls were particularly likely to be critical of themselves, and one-quarter of older girls reported that they did not like or hated themselves. In contrast, only 14 percent of boys said they felt this way."
So, why are most young women (and women in general) quicker to see their flaws rather than their fabulous traits? Even worse, why do some young women internalize their perceived flaws so deeply that they develop depression and eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia?
In her book, The True Measure of a Woman, respected mentor to women and best-selling author Lisa Bevere suggests that one reason women get depressed might be because "a woman often measures herself and her own worth according to the standards set by others around her. Her self-esteem rises and falls with the whims of popular opinion as she allows other people to control how she thinks about herself."
I can attest there are numerous reasons, which are mistruths, that keep us from accepting that we are gorgeous, especially in God's sight. When we're in a rut, we focus on our shortcomings and sins. That causes us to shutter at God's goodness. In turn, we believe the lies of condemnation that breed blame, disapproval, and criticism--rather than freely receiving the gift of God's loving grace.
No matter what personal potholes you hit when it comes to self doubt, be assured: God gets you. He understands each of us with all of our intricate complexities--young women, middle age women, and mature women. He also knows we have a tendency to be hard on ourselves. Psalms reveals how ladies are the apple of the Lord’s eye and that God wants women to be protected from any adversary that would seek to do us harm:
Show the wonder of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings from the wicked who assail me, from my mortal enemies who surround me. (Psalm 17:7-9)
Breaking Down D-O-U-B-T
When it comes to our looks, we know that conditions change. Our waist lines shrink and grow, our skin breaks out and then clears up, and in time we get wrinkles, but God's Word is unwavering. Within the pages of the living Bible, there are no crinkles, creases, or folds. Because of the blood the unblemished lamb, hope for a lifetime of assurance (not doubt) is extended to you and me.
We are called to be confident in Christ. I Peter 1:18-20 declares, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.”
With this passage from I Peter in mind, we can resolve to hold onto hope in God rather than our own self doubt. But how do we turn feelings of defeat into something divine?
We break down self-D-O-U-B-T by being Deliberately Original & Understanding Biblical Truth:
Be purposeful about life. Reflect on the things that matter and act on them. James 1:22 reminds, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only.”
Be unique as the individual woman God created you to be. In Jeremiah 31:3 God says, “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love.”
Identify with grace. It’s unmerited favor and God has plenty stored up for you. Ephesians 4:7 encourages, “To each one of us grace was given…”
Unashamedly choose the Bible as your standard for righteous living and authentic value. John 1:1 declares, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Stay your heart and mind on the facts given in God's word. Philippians 4:8 instructs, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (NIV).
You’re a gorgeous girl in God's sight! And, so am I. So let's resolve to be fixed in our faith. We can let go of negative self talk and accept the fullness of Heaven's assurance. Always remember that lasting personal value is found as we accept the sweetest gift God has given, salvation.
Connect with Friends
Email the Forever Young blog link to a girlfriend (click on link below) who needs to hear that she’s accepted and esteemed. Then, think about some of the issues you’re struggled with. Send me your comments!
What are your self doubts? How can dismiss doubt by being deliberately original & committing to a greater understanding biblical truth this year?
~ Jackie O.