When you look into a mirror, do you like the woman you see?
Or are you more preoccupied with finding flaws? When you examine your inner self and your attitudes, do you feel like a winner or like a spiritual and relational drop-out?
Take a few moments to give some honest answers to the following true or false evaluative questions.
A few of the questions, as you will see, will not be applicable to every woman.
* I feel happiest when my home is neat and clean and I'm "on top of things."
* I believe that how my children behave is a direct reflection on my ability as a mother.
* I know that "bad hair days" when things don't go my way shouldn't bother me, but sometimes I become very depressed and seriously dislike myself.
* If I could lose this weight, I'm sure that others would find me more appealing.
* Things go wrong at home because I don't plan ahead well enough and think things through.
* I'm single, and I don't have a full identity and purpose because I don't have a family to care for.
* Comparing myself to other women is a good activity for me because it makes me realize how much I need to improve.
* I don't often ask other women for help or advice because I don't want them to know how much I need it. I would rather figure it out for myself, even if it takes longer.
* How I feel about myself is not what counts--if my husband and kids do not think highly of me, that fact alone should tell me I'm doing something wrong.
If you are like many women, you may have answered "true" to at least one of the above.
Don't be ashamed of that, though. You are not the first one to be lured into false thinking and performance-based living. Take a look at any of the top women's magazines and programs today and you get more than an eyeful of the world's ideal.
Lose weight, work harder for a happier marriage, raise your children this way, find fulfillment in this activity, be your own woman--the slogans and the blurbs cry out for you to be different, to look different, to take care of your own needs. They tell you appearance is everything. Every woman has things she tries to hide, and how well you do at seeming "with it" and getting what you want at the same time is the measure of your success.
The Lord who made you fashioned you very delicately and purposefully to be exactly the unique female you are.
He has a plan for you, and His ideals transcend the here-and-now. In spite of what you may have been raised to believe, the worth of your womanhood is not determined by your looks or behavior or personality type or position in life.
Susan Hunt, author of The True Woman: The Beauty And Strength of A Godly Woman, explains the real foundation of your womanhood: "As a redeemed daughter of the King of kings, the Christian woman has a new identity. Her identity is not determined by her situation nor by her relationships with men, as feminists believe we [Christians] are saying, but by her Savior. Her concern is not self-image but being an image-bearer of the Lord God . . .
"The uncomfortable truth is that even though we say we have a Christocentric worldview, when the pressure is on, we often shift to an egocentric view of our situation. We think selfishly rather than redemptively . . .
"The true woman is a recipient of redemption.
God set His sovereign affection upon her. He bound Himself to her in covenant faithfulness to be her God. He has redeemed her with His own blood. She is His treasured possession . . . [We are in] the folds of unspeakable love . . . a love that wraps eternal security around us . . . because we are His treasured possessions. This is the indisputable identity of the true woman."
The reality of your standing in Christ is often difficult to remember when you are attacked by thoughts of low self-esteem and worthlessness. When you look at the beautiful woman with the seemingly perfect family and wonder why that couldn't be you, this false and envious longing strikes a hurtful blow at the woman God designed you to be.
Remember, Satan wants you to take your eyes off of Jesus and put them on yourself and circumstances, and your own sinful nature makes its appeal to your emotions daily. When you lose your solid footing in His truth, you stand on the slippery ground of relativism, and God never intends for you to live in fear and self-condemnation. He loves you--that's enough.
You may argue that even when you turn to Scripture you experience the same feelings of judgment. Everyone points to Proverbs 31, but the thought of meeting such a "superwoman" is so intimidating that you do not read any further. While the manifestations of godly womanhood differ from person to person, the nugget of truth at the very end of the chapter is the one you want to mine and hold precious: "Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised" (v. 30).
First Peter 3:3-5 expands this concept even further: "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, 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. For this is the way the holy women of the past used to make themselves beautiful" (NIV).
God's "mirror" is one that reflects the radiance of a gentle and quiet spirit.
The spirit of inner peace is a transcendent quality that any woman can develop when she abides in Christ, builds a deeper relationship with Him through prayer and study of His Word, and allows the Holy Spirit to produce new character fruits in her life.
Why is this gentle and quiet spirit so attractive? It says that you trust Christ, not your own resources. You're not worried about daily circumstances, because you know He is in control. You can give freely, since you are not concerned about getting something in return.
You understand God's grace and love for you. You accept yourself because He made you just as you are.
You can accept others for who they are and trust Christ to change them. You can meet any challenge in His power. You laugh when humor comes your way, and cry with those who need empathy and comfort.
In short, you are in love with your Savior and the life He has given you--and it shows all over. That is attractive.
It's irresistible, and best of all, that spirit is not an "act" you generate for appearance's sake.
In her book The Confident Woman, Anabel Gillham (http://amzn.to/2mmOMZW) shares her gradual awareness of these truths:
"How incredible! How unbelievable! I had struggled for so many years, hating my performance patterns, and yet living to perform, driven to perform, searching out the praise of men and thirsting for the love of God I thought could come only to those who performed well enough to receive it. "Yet God had just shown me that He loved me in spite of anything and everything, and He had shown me in a way that I could understand."
Is Jesus' love a reality in your life?
To the degree that you grasp His unconditional love, you understand your worth as a person, as a woman, as a wife or mother or grandmother.
Let Jesus worry about doing any corrections and adjustments as He sees fit. That's not for you to be concerned about.
You're a beloved and righteous princess in the eyes of your Father the King. Your job as a woman is to rejoice in how He made you and find satisfaction in His love each day.
Copyright © IN TOUCH magazine
IN TOUCH MINISTRIES®, ITM, Inc.
All rights reserved
Used with Permission