When I read through our new download for this week, I thought: Great, my first week contributing to Gifted For Leadership and we're discussing one of my nemesis: Self-image. Of course, I suppose I also could have thought: Wow! This must be a God-thing?I've learned a lot about this issue over the past year. Yes, that probably would have been the better way to approach it. So, here we go?
It started last year about this time when I was challenged at a conference to fast from something for forty days. I wasn't taking the whole thing very seriously, until God decided I needed to. And it really was one of those moments when his voice was crystal clear and completely undeniable. Make-up. Yup, it settled like a dead-weight on my chest. I was going to fast from make-up for forty days: no foundation, no blush, no mascara. Nothing.
So I started the very next day, and I chose not to tell anyone about it (like it wasn't obvious). Which meant that a lot of people said I looked tired for over a month. But I didn't want to be a martyr, or have an excuse, or be ashamed of the way I looked without make-up. That was the point - God wanted me to do this not because I'm too wrapped up in my physical appearance, or because make-up is this horrible thing, but because I had a false self-image. And the make-up was a tangible symbol of that.
See, I have a thing for misplacing my identity. For believing that I am my job, or I am what I look like to others, or I am the experiences I've had. And this has led to a lot of discontentment in my life. Because my job isn't always glamorous, and I don't always look just right, and most of the time my experiences don't resemble a movie - they're just ordinary and everyday.
I'm back to wearing make-up again (though I'll skip it more often than I used to), but God taught me a lot through those forty days and in the months following. Mostly, I learned the discipline of gratitude: to love what God has given me. And it's still a struggle; a really good book or movie can put me in a tailspin, making me wish I were leading a different life. But I have to come back to this: God made me this way for this time and this place. I'm a critical character in his story. And my identity is in him, as his child and his creation.
No doubt you've struggled with self-image in some way - and so do the women you serve. In this week's download, Battling a Negative Self-Image, author Verla Gillmor points out that low self-esteem has become the number-one issue plaguing Christian women.
So how do you battle a negative self-image?
How do you avoid putting your identity in the wrong place?
And how do you help other women when they're struggling with this issue?