When your body is in consistent pain it can be hard to feel beautiful.
Many years ago I would put on a pair of nylons (a.k.a pantyhose)– even with my jeans–my shoes had a bit of a heel, and my hair had a whole lot of hairspray (it was the eighties after all). I thought I was rockin’. But I haven’t been able to wear shoes with any kind of heel for nearly twenty years.
Add to the fact that my feet are deformed so I walk funny, and because of that my balance tends to come and go. I can just be standing and have a knee or an ankle go out from under me. I have even explained to a few people (like at my son’s scouts meeting that I really hadn’t been drinking, because that is what it looks like!)
You gotta laugh!
A few years back, trying to have a sense of humor about it all, I coined the phrase…
“I used to be cute to look at but now I am just fun to watch.”
Yep. It’s okay. Laugh with me. (Not at me–with me.) Especially if you think this could apply to you too. Just getting ready for the day, including getting dressed, would be quite hysterical to watch if I allowed it!
But I want to feel pretty. Is that wrong?
No. Because even when we can laugh about our balance or our deformed feet or whatever, still. . . it hurts. . . doesn’t it? I don’t like feeling frumpy, fluffy, or any of those words you could use to describe a mutt. I’m a woman and I want to feel feminine. That’s okay, right? Or is that vain?
We understand the Bible says what we wear is not our worth. The handbag we carry? Nope? The earrings or the hair decorations? Nope, nada. I get that. And am grateful, because my worth wouldn’t really amount to much financially–about “60% off retail.”
1 Peter 3:3,4 says, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
Now there are other verses about modesty and those apply too. But note that it says our beauty shouldn’t come from these things. Our beauty should come from our spirit–from presenting ourselves, holding ourselves, as though we know who we are–a princess (or a prince–for our men readers!) of our King.
So how do we discern what beauty extras are okay and what are not?
So, is it a bad thing to want to go get a little trim on our hair or wash some of that gray out so at least part of our body doesn’t feel older than it is? No, I don’t think so. Remember, our body is God’s temple. Surely He understands if our temple needs a little dusting or fresh wallpaper now and then, right?
Over in the Rest Ministries Sunroom, there is a discussion on this hot topic. One woman shares:
Since I have become so stressed out from the headaches, eye pain, etc., I have noticed these huge bags under my eyes. It’s just one more thing for me to be depressed about. I feel so ugly and don’t want anyone to see me. I feel like I am not pretty anymore and feel so ashamed. I know my husband loves me no matter what I look like but it still bothers me so much.
I feel like a freak! I was just wondering if anyone else has experienced physical problems like this and how do you deal with it. I look in the mirror and see an old hag (I’m 34) looking back at me. Is it foolish to care about this stuff?
Ah ha! See the last sentence she stated? Is it foolish to care? Here is my answer: Nah, it’s not foolish.
It is, however, a very personal decision. Some women cover their arms, some cover their heads, some don’t wear black, other don’t show an ankle. And that is okay.
My suggestion would be to ask yourself what you can control and what you cannot control. For example, if we choose to not shower for a week and can barely get a comb through our hair, then this can lead to not only an increased risk of infection, but also depression.
On the other hand, if you are eating the best you can but continue to gain weight due to medications then you may need to plan some long-term goals, but not get too caught up in the short term weight gain. (I remember telling myself this in the past. It was wise advice–though hard to follow!)
One woman responded to the question in the Sunroom who said,
I believe that when you begin to feel better physically, your self esteem will improve and you will begin to see yourself as beautiful again. Personally, I’m much older than you but this illness has still taken a toll on my face! Even at my age (59) I still care about how I look!
I love the Song of Solomon where God tells us how beautiful we are to Him. “You are beautiful, My beloved, you have dove’s eyes.” (Song of Solomon 1:15) Tell yourself that each morning when you look in the mirror!
Is your worry or concern about your looks preventing you from doing what God wants for you to do? I remember asking myself this in about 2010. My face looked puffy and heavy due to predisone. I was depressed about it.
Let me share with you a little story…
In 2003 I was at my highest weight and feeling miserable from all the prednisone. I went on the lo-carb diet and didn’t eat more than 20 carbs for nearly 2 years, and lost 84 pounds. Even my doctors couldn’t believe it worked, but I truly stuck to it. Like an alcoholic, I knew if I ate one french fry or one piece of candy, it was “all over.” I was at my healthiest weight and feeling so much better physically.
Then I had wrist surgery. . . and someone brought bread sticks. . . with garlic butter.
Everyone said, “Just eat 1!” Well, that one bread stick may have not caused any weight gain, but the doctors increased prednisone again due to my extreme flares and that certainly did! And that set me back on the weight gain, more infections, more prednisone to make up for the biologics I couldn’t take. You get the picture.
Is your attitude about your body preventing you from God’s plan for your life?
I was back where I was before. And miserable. But even my rheumatologist said, “Until you can get on other meds and off some of the prednisone, it’s an uphill battle.”
So, finally I realized I had work to do–ministry work–and I wasn’t doing it because I felt fat. And somehow I decided “I am what I am.” I have no idea how I came to this place, which means I give God all the credit, because it wasn’t my doing.
Was I pleased with my appearance? No. And yet, I knew God had some work for me to do, and I wasn’t able to do it if I dodged the camera, canceled speaking appearances and hid. So I primped, did my hair, put on some makeup and did the videos.
In 2010 I wrote,
“Am I happy with my appearance. No. But am trying to both accept it and change it at the same time? Yes. Matthew 7:20 says, ‘Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.’ I hope that you will ‘recognize me’ due to the spirit of the Lord within me. not because I am thin or have cute feet (which I will never have either.)
Proverbs 31:30 reminds us “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting: but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” I think many of us here are not spending more time on our hair then in fellowship with God.
If your beauty regime takes longer than the amount of time you are spending in the Word, you may want to rethink your devotion time. And there is nothing wrong with listening to some praise music while you are flat-ironing that hair either.
Your turn . . . will you share with us?
So, here is my challenge to you! Will you share with us in the comments what your biggest beauty hurdle has been? And if you’ve “gotten over focusing on it” –what did you do?
Do you miss wearing a certain style of shoe or shirts with buttons? Have you out your wedding ring back in the box because it no longer fits on your hands, or do you get a quick haircut, avoiding a style because it takes too much work?
If there was one thing you may be able to change, in order to feel like you are being proactive, notepad of just reacting to your disease and its impact in your body, what would it be?
Your story may be just the assurance and blessing that someone here needs to hear today.
Lisa Copen is the woman behind the screen for Rest Ministries and she has plenty of experience when it comes to fighting your body image. It is her hope that you will be encouraged and come to see yourself as God sees you through this series of articles. Get to know her better and all the quirky things she likes at her personal Pinterest board.
View all posts in this series
- 4 Struggles A Chronically Ill Woman Has About Her Body Image - July 11, 2013
- Self-Esteem and Chronic Illness: Where Does Faith Come In? - July 17, 2013
- Do You Want to Be Beautiful? Video Reminder - July 18, 2013
- Are We Stylin’ Even Though We Are Ill? - July 19, 2013
- Am I Vain if I Am Stressed Out About My Appearance From Illness? - July 23, 2013
- Are You Able to Laugh at Your Own Body Image? - July 25, 2013
- Songs to Remind You That You are Beautiful! - July 29, 2013