I was absolutely stunned and humbled when Rebecca Bender Ministries reached out and asked me to be a guest blogger. Rebecca is a sex trafficking survivor, a lead advocate in the global movement to stop modern day sex trafficking and is the author of ‘Roadmap to Redemption’. I am thrilled she has allowed me to join in her vital conversation around a woman’s worth. Here is my guest blog as published on her website.
As females, we are all too aware of the worldly construct of beauty. We see it on TV, in magazines and in the clothes we are told to wear. Really, there is no way to escape the skinny, sultry and sexy notions that have clouded what society perceives as beautiful. Thankfully, over the past decade people have started speaking up about this. Inner beauty campaigns like Operation Beautiful have been founded and celebrities such as Emma Watson have begun to redefine feminine beauty.
People like me fist bump the air every time we see a celebrity looking classy on the red carpet (well not really, but I get pretty excited) because we feel the pressure to be perfectly sexy releasing like a balloon from our shoulders. The world is slowly, very slowly, being challenged to view beauty as something unique to an individual. It has started to become a trademark of class, health and grace; and through our own stories we have learnt that beauty is not found in conformity or fear, but in freedom and confidence.
When we are used, abused and rejected by people, we can feel as though our true beauty is fading. Our sense of worth, our femininity, our strength and our purpose can dim. In times like these we wonder if we are lovable, if we are even worth the attention and adoration of someone who truly wants us for more than our bodies. These fears and moments can stay with us, even as we enter recovery and step into the promises of God. We know that we are new creations; that we are valuable and loved by God. Yet the scars of our past can still haunt us, and we can fall into the habit of trying to feel beautiful.
We all struggle; I struggle. We will tell our friends they look beautiful and we believe it for them, but we never really believe that WE are beautiful. Having worked so hard to mend ourselves and to leave the pain of our past behind, we try to find our Godly beauty in all sorts of things; Christian self-help books, the worship pastor (it helps if he plays guitar, sings and has a scripture tattooed on his arm), trying to set up our friends or even church hopping to find a husband. None of these are bad in themselves; if you read a book that provides you with teaching and encouragement that’s awesome, and who am I to judge you if you jump churches and end up marrying the worship pastor? But how often do we start to rely on these factors to feel valuable?
We believe we will be beautiful and worthy when we do certain things, or when a Godly guy finally acknowledges us for all the right reasons. Having been there, done that (not the proposal part FYI, although that would make a good story), I know it doesn’t work. You read that book or receive a compliment from a guy and you live on a high for a while, but then you receive a dirty look or the ladies at church try to marry you off to ‘fix you’, and you are left feeling empty and unworthy again. The fact is, even though we like to appear as if we have it all together, we don’t. No matter where we are in life we need to know that we are beautiful, and this often drives our behavior.
The Psalms talk about true beauty, showing us that it is a trait God formed in us before we were even born:
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
Psalm 139: 13-14
No matter what your past may be or how broken you may feel, you are beautiful. Your actions or the details of your past do not determine your worth. You matter because God formed every part of you perfectly, and you express this beauty when you embrace yourself, scars and all. Often, it can feel as though the scars of our past inhibit our beauty, but I want you to know that they don’t. Your beauty is unwavering, you worth unquestionable. You are a child of God; a new creation. The things we do in the church to feel beautiful aren’t bad, but it is the motivation behind them that can strip us of the beauty we already possess.
So dress nice and wear makeup, but do it because you are highlighting your beauty, not hiding who you truly are. Read those books, but do it to gain wisdom and to walk in integrity. And pushing aside my ranting about the pressure to be married off, I want you to know that it’s okay to date. In fact, you deserve to be romanced and treated with the utmost respect by a Godly man who is full of integrity; but don’t think you need to seek out a guy because you need him to make you feel loved and special. Instead, let him pursue you and compliment the beauty you already possess.
Today I challenge you to start believing that you are as beautiful in your pyjamas as you will be, or were, on your wedding day. Wear your grace, your strength and your dignity, and walk knowing you are beloved. No matter what our scars say- we are precious the way we are. You, my friend, are beautiful.