"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." - Psalm 139:14 (NIV)
When I was a kid, I struggled with the way I looked.
My teeth were not straight.
My eyes were big.
I had a huge forehead.
I was skinny.
The list could go on and on, but those were some of the things that so-called friends would often tease me about.
So I turned to fashion to hide my insecurities. It was a way to get people to focus on the way I dressed instead of on what they considered my imperfections.
When I was 14 years old, I got my first job at Dunkin' Donuts just so I could buy extra clothes and shoes. Fashion became my high and necessary part of my life.
Naturally, as I got older, I was attracted to guys who took pride in their appearance. But I soon realized that many of them were as insecure as I was. No amount of nice clothes can hide the person behind them.
There's a scene in the movie, The Pursuit of Happyness, where Will Smith goes into an interview dressed in a white tank top, jeans, and with paint marks all over him. He was dressed unprofessionally, but his confidence won him the internship.
That scene reminds us that who we are inside is more important than what we wear — this is coming from someone who loves to dress up.
"But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” — Samuel 16:7
In a time when it’s so easy to compare yourself to filtered photos or highlights of people’s lives on social media, you can begin to feel like you are not good enough. But your physical appearance or what you have (or do not have) doesn't matter to God.
He cares about your heart.
I was reading Genesis 2 this week, and the very last verse in that chapter stood out to me. Genesis 2:25 says, “Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”
We were created by God to be accepted just as we are. We didn’t need to cover up or put a mask on. It was only when sin entered the world that we started to feel ashamed of our appearance.
Have you ever wondered why the Bible is silent on the physical characteristics of Jesus? I believe it's so we can focus on His teaching and not be distracted by the irrelevant details of how he looked.
If Jesus was very handsome and dressed in the finest clothes, he would've drawn a lot of attention to himself for the wrong reasons. And it might be hard for most of us to relate to Him.
Jesus needed to be effective in his assigned mission, and to do so, he had to make sure that people only paid attention to one thing: his teachings.
You can turn to material things or even vices to mask your insecurities, but if you don't see yourself through the lens that God sees you through, you'll be ineffective in the mission that He has specifically for you.
I had to learn that lesson the hard way. My physical appearance told people that I was confident, but on the inside, I was screaming to be loved. I was screaming for acceptance for who I was without my mask.
Psalms 139:14 says, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."
You are a God’s masterpiece — dark spots, blemishes, weight, height, and all. Your identity isn’t defined by what mere people say about you. Your identity is defined by God.
Own every characteristic that makes you, you, because you're a reflection of God who created you in His image.
Do you understand how amazing you are? I'll say it again. You are a reflection of God who created you in His image.
People may look at our outward appearance, but God (thankfully) looks at our hearts.
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Do great things with God.
** This message was originally published on 3/13/2018 and updated on 11/17/20.