One time my wife came to me and said, "Well, they posted pictures from the picnic."
I could tell by her tone that she wasn't happy. Uh-oh. Had I done something that looked bad on camera? Did one of the kids get caught doing something mean or indecent?
She Offered to show the pictures and brought up Facebook. I looked at the picture. There was my beautiful wife happily smiling. She stood amongst the other adults while our children were playing in the lake behind her. Now, sure, the kids were fully clothed in the water because we hadn't brought swimsuits. Not ideal. However, we had both known that they had jumped in. This picture didn't reveal anything new.
When my wife saw me staring blankly, she said, "Look here and here". I looked at the screen where she was pointing. They were 2 different places on her own body.
How many people have done this? You look at a picture of yourself and find something you don't like? It's easy isn't it? Or maybe cook something, but you wish you had taken it out of the oven 10 minutes earlier. You know what's funny? You are usually the only person who knows. Everyone else at the party loves it. But you have this feeling that it could have been better.
How about your career? Do you always get everything done on time? Do you interact with everyone on your team in a positive way? Are your speaking skills as polished as you want them to be?
Again, it's easy to find something you don't like about yourself. In fact, sometimes we make mistakes that make it hard to find something we like about ourselves. But the Truth is that you are a human being -- just like the rest of us. So if your mistakes make you worthless, than everyone else around you is just as worthless. Because we all make mistakes, too!
Back to my wife.
I wasn't much help to her because I couldn't see the problem. All I could see was gorgeous woman having a great time at a party. Only she could see the imperfection that didn't meet her standards. She was visually frustrated that I wasn't jumping on the band wagon to complain about her features or that people would post pictures on Facebook.
But then she took a breath and helped herself by saying something deeply profound.
"What if that picture was of somebody else?" I looked at her and she was staring off into space. But it must have been some portal of wisdom. She said, "If that were a picture of someone else, would I be so critical?"
"No," she reasoned. Then she Then her entire attitude shifted. Her self-talk went in the opposite direction and she began praising her beautiful body that had given life to 3 children. It was such a beautiful moment to see her choose to set aside impersonal American Beauty Standards. To see her choose to look at herself individually--and appreciate who she is and how that is reflected in her body. How her story adds to the beauty of her body.
She is an avid runner, a recreational soccer player, and an active mom of 3. She's healthy and still takes my breath away every time I walk through the door. I know other men who are jealous of me -- but not only because she's gorgeous. They're jealous that we were friends for 7 years before we decided to get married. They admire that we have similar interests and complementary musical (singing and guitar) and theater (acting and directing) skills. My male friends know that she was my "dream girl".
Now she's my real-life wife! She's the mother of my children! I praise God for blessing me with her. I can love her like -- as the Bible says -- I love my own body. I can praise her beauty and compliment her talent. And it's good that I do that. Not only for her -- though, yes, primarily for her : ) -- but also for my boys. I want to teach my children-- especially the boys--to praise and compliment the women in their lives.
I want them to understand that they are valuable people to this world. I want them to have confidence that they make a difference to other people by the way they treat them. I want them to know that they have the power to help other people feel good about themselves. Because it's the most important power we have.
Think about the other option. What good does it do to complain about ourselves?
- Does it build up the church?
- Does it build up our relationships?
- Does it build up our own self-esteem?
No. None of the above. How do you think God feels when we criticize his handiwork?
And how about our children?
- What will our children learn if we are critical of other people?
- What will they learn if we are critical of them?
- What will they learn if we are critical of our own skills? -- Or our own bodies?
Will it bring them self-confidence? Will it make our daughters feel beautiful?
But if we build each other up... and we build ourselves up... and we let God build us up... Then our compliments will make an impact.
Who likes to get complimented on their work by someone who's unemployed? No, we'd much rather get the compliment who is successful in business.
Who wants a compliment on how a good an athlete you are from someone who's never played the sport? No, we want the fellow athlete's admiration.
So how much more will your daughter believe she is beautiful if you treat yourself beautifully.
How much more confident will your son be if you are confident in your own abilities?
You are SO IMPORTANT to this world. You have so much POWER to pour into the people around you; friends, family, co-workers, church members, neighbors, even strangers. But it starts with recognizing the gifts of talents and perspectives you have been blessed with. Own those gifts!!! Acknowledge them, build on them. Speak well of yourself to yourself and to other people.
Treat yourself as you would have others treat you. Be grace-filled and forgiving. Be empowering. Build up your self-esteem by focusing on your strengths.
Once you are treating yourself the way you want people to treat you, then remember to return the favor. And treat others the way you want to be treated