Maybe it’s time we admit that this is hard. Everywhere we look and listen there are messages.
“You’re fat. You aren’t pretty enough. You’re flat-chested. Why don’t you get those crooked teeth fixed?”
Then you visit the body image web sites, and they tell you the opposite.
“Ignore the pictures in those magazines. They’re photo-shopped anyway. Healthy is more important than thin. Large breasts don’t make you more of a woman. Inner beauty is more important than high cheekbones and big eyes.” All true.
But it’s hard to believe the truth when the culture spews lies all the time. You’ve heard them since childhood. You hear them on the Internet. You can’t even go to the grocery store without seeing a slick magazine with the images that sear into your brain.
And maybe you’ve made progress. On the other hand, maybe after years of hearing the truth about your value – that it’s based on being made in God’s image and redeemed by Christ – even after years of progress in your thinking, after years of accepting yourself, after years of hard-fought victory . . . you fall off the wagon. You believe the lies all over again. You’re right back where you started. It could be that on a bad day, the wrong thinking comes right back. That should not be a shock. The culture — and maybe a few people in your life — brainwashed you very carefully. (Even if they didn’t mean to.) So don’t despair if the lie slips back in. Let it come. Then let it go. Forgive yourself for still believing the lie.
Give yourself a break. Sometimes it’s hard to disentangle the wrong thinking from your brain neurons. The rewiring may take years. It may never be complete on this side of death. So what? You’ve been hurt. Let yourself off the hook.
Drop your sword for a while and take a breather. Sometimes we switch from letting the media beat us up to beating ourselves up for listening to the media.
What if, when the lie attacks, you just say, “Hello . . .”
“Oh, here you are again. My favorite old Lie. How are you? Know what? Today I’m taking a break from the fighting. I know you’re a Lie, but I’m not going to try to push you out the door. Let’s call a truce, just for today. You want a drink? How ‘bout a beer? Oh, sorry, maybe you don’t drink. Soda, then? Help yourself. I’m taking a breather today. Oh, are you leaving so soon? What’s that? It’s no fun when I’m not tied up in a knot over it? Okay, see you next time.” The door closes. The Lie is gone. You know it will be back, but for now, you just sip your drink and close your eyes.
“Come away and rest awhile,” Jesus says. That Jesus. He knows just what to say.
Wendy Herrmann Smith lives in Greenville SC with her husband and two kids – a son she got after seventeen hours of labor and a C-section and a daughter adopted from China after a fourteen-hour flight and a lot of paperwork. She writes adult Bible study material for her denomination and blogs at www.beautybattlefield.blogspot.com. Read Wendy’s other posts here.