There’s this moment in films that nearly kills me every time. It’s when the girl takes off her glasses, and the guy drops instantly at her feet realising for the first time that she is actually beautiful. These scenes shred my self confidence into a million shards. I ask ‘Am I ugly because I have to wear glasses? Will I be a lonely spinster all of my life’? It’s a fear that cuts deep beneath my skin, and affects every part of who I am. Before I know it, I have defined myself by something I have no control over.
Maybe it’s not glasses for you, but perhaps there’s something that controls how much value you place upon yourself – a weight issue, a disability, a fear, or something completely different. A lie. A lie about yourself that manipulates you like a master puppeteer and tangles you further as you try to take back control.
I’m a self confessed control freak; I think a lot of us are. Whenever I feel like I’m losing control of a situation, automatically, I want to take drastic measures to become in charge again. I want to cover up the mess. It can be the reason why so many of us have addictions, suffer from eating disorders, or struggle with self harm. Someone might have called us fat, so one response might be to take back control of the situation by starving ourselves. Maybe our life has been filled with pain, so we cut into our skin to be in charge of the hurt we feel.
The problem is, the relief provided by binging, cutting, starving is only temporary. And it’s also destructive. Before we know it, we have built a million walls around ourselves because we don’t want people to know the mess we’re in. No one will know the real me. Yet at the same time, we’re blocking out the voice of truth that can speak hope into our lives.
The voice that tells us: ‘Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you, I have called you by name; you are mine’ (Isaiah 43: 1) because ‘I love you with an everlasting love’ (Jeremiah 31:3). You are loved, chosen. It’s a love that is so much more than any hurt you’ve experience or destructive behaviour you’ve inflicted on yourself.
I’ve realised one thing: it is those who are persecuted for their faith, those who have to give up control that can inspire us.
Whilst we’re trying to stay in control, we can’t believe this, because we’re still leaning back on the world for acceptance. It’s when we give up pursuing the world’s affirmation, that we understand fully this love -this unfailing love from God – because we have nothing of ourselves, or the world to fall back on. We need to give up control- to find freedom, love and acceptance.
I’m not going to lie, and say I’m good at this. In fact, to be honest I’m rubbish at it. I’m writing as much to myself in this post as I am to you reading it. However, over time I’ve realised one thing: it is those who are persecuted for their faith, those who have to give up control that can inspire us. Releasing the control, they can see themselves through God’s eyes – and that’s something many of us need to learn.
They have nothing of the world to fall back on; they get abused, oppressed, mistreated, and ultimately rejected by the world. If they believed that they were what the world told them, they’d believe they were worthless. Yet, they chose to live with the risk of persecution, when they could so easily seek acceptance from the world by blending in. Why do they do it? Because they know God’s love is greater than anything that is thrown at them.
If only we could believe this too. If only we could know that we are so much more than the lies that the world tells us!
No matter what – we are beautiful.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.