I don’t consider myself a vain person. But in a few days I am heading to a conference for women’s ministry leaders and all I can think about is my shabby appearance. My pedicure is shot, I have a good inch of brown roots, and my eyebrows are reminiscent of two fat caterpillars. (The caterpillar analogy was coined by my baby sister. She is less apt to mince words than I am – which is saying something.) Evidently I am celebrating Movember two months early – at least my upper lip seems to think so. And I am pretty sure I feel a cold sore coming on.
Maybe I am more vain than I thought.
I have always been acutely aware of the fact that I am no fashion plate. Every four months I slink into the salon, my hair a hot mess, with a hopeful smile. I’m like the prodigal daughter my stylist never asked for. So it’s only natural to sweat a little when I’m about to hang with a group of women who will surely be fluffed and buffed to perfection. There will be Southerners there – and Southern women don’t play games when it comes to their appearance. Me? Odds are I’ll mange to stain the new Anthropologie shirt I purchased for the occasion.
I cried more than once about my ungainliness as a teen. I knew I wasn’t refined or lithe or athletic like I perceived all the other girls were. The ones with boyfriends and prom dates and effortlessly sporting the latest fashions. I lamented my frizzy hair and “sturdy” build, and the fact that my outfit was always slightly askew. I was also brassy and had zero ability to control my loud mouth. I felt like a bull in the china shop wherever I went.
My mom used to take my tearstained teenage face in her hands, look me square in the eye, and tell me to knock it off. Mom reminded me that I was created by God, himself, and he makes no mistakes. She’d smile and muse how she liked my crazy hair. Because if you lined me up with all the other girls they all looked the same to her – and I stood out.
She was right about the fact that I stood out. I just felt like it was in all the wrong ways. But by the grace of God and years of a mother who spoke truth over me, I was able to grow in confidence and not let insecurity knock me off track. I let God’s word sink deep into my heart so that even as an adult, when I’m faltering in confidence or feeling unlovely, I can find assurance rooted in truth.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
The NLT version of Ephesians 2:10 says we are God’s masterpiece. In other words, God created everything from my unmanageable hair to my big personality to the way my outfit is never quite right. And more importantly, He created my talents, honed my skills, placed me in certain learning situations, and has stretched me in preparation for the good works He has planned.
The same holds true for you.
The world wants to tear you down. The enemy will whisper lies into your ears about everything from your appearance to the multiple ways you don’t measure up. He will capitalize on insecurity and your fears. And he will magnify every insult that comes your way.
You know why? Because the enemy KNOWS about the second part of that verse: You were created for a purpose. You were created to walk in the good works that God prepared for you in advance. And there’s no better way to derail someone than blow after blow to their confidence.
When you are feeling discouraged, self-conscious, or defeated, remember this:
YOU are God’s handiwork. The creation of the Almighty. The one who created heaven and earth. The mountains, the flowers, the oceans, the hummingbirds. Everything God created is good. It’s beautiful. It’s amazing.
And YOU? You are his masterpiece.
That is a truth worth repeating over and over.
God smiled when he made you – just the way you are – from your quirks to your gifts. And he wants you to walk in the freedom of knowing you are fearfully and wonderfully made. God is the giver of courage and sound minds, not of shame and self-doubt. And he intends for use our God-given gifts to do the work He prepared for us. Not wring our hands worrying about whether we measure up.
Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people. Psalm 100:3a
If I don’t have time to address my eyebrows and roots by this weekend, and its not looking promising, I think we will all survive it. Folks might wonder why a beautiful blonde like me dyes her roots brown, but nobody will die. And we can all get on with the business of walking in the good works God has planned for us. I’ll just be walking with chipped toenails.