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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Image Factor

Recently, my little girl came to tears because of a perceived physical imperfection that was revealed when she wore this super hero costume.  It is the first time I've seen her be insecure about a specific physical characteristic and it broke my heart.  

My youngest daughter to me is the literal vision of physical perfection.  She is gorgeous (I'm biased) but I work hard not to emphasize her appearance as the key to what makes her acceptable.  Oh, I tell her she's pretty and we enjoy choosing outfits!  Yet, I try to emphasize other things are what makes a person lovely.  I make a very determined effort to guard my words and include her heart, her character, kindness and abilities as the marks that make a woman beautiful.  I talk about what I love about my middle-aged, marred body so that she feels free to love parts of herself, too.  We talk about what we like, what our bodies can do and what makes us feel strong.  We talk about what is healthy and what is not, why it's good to exercise and why it's great to splurge!

I've been middle school girl with crazy hair.  I have been a high school girl with bad acne and a flat chest...and still the crazy hair.  I have been a college girl with the "freshmen fifteen."  I have been a new mother without time to consider my appearance and I've been single again in middle life and wondering how I'll measure against all the other women who put so much of themselves out there.  It's unrealistic to consider that our physical appearance isn't a factor in this physical world.

And yet, there is so much more to us than our outer facade can reveal.  We are all full of energy, history, hopes, disappointment and a spiritual side that needs to be nurtured more than the physical.  I notice that it's so easy to be consumed with improving my physical self and neglect the spirit that craves time with the Lord, connection with others and depth beyond the superficial and the depth of character that only time and experience can develop.  We are so much more.

Thankfully, my girlie was able to overlook her slight "flaw" and focus on the performance and all the hard work she put in.  The show was fabulous and the girl was radiant!

It's easy to let our physical appearance consume us.  I know I struggle to prioritize the inner, spiritual self with the time I spend primping, covering up and attempting to improve my outer self.  Is this a struggle for you?  How can we find balance?  How can we instill in our daughters that it is so much more important to tend our heart than our body?

People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.  I Samuel 16:8