The Eye of the Beholder

I’ve often heard the saying, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” You may hear that phrase and think of a rags-to-riches story, or you may think it is a bit cliché. To me, it has long been a terrifying idea.

Since I was a little girl, I have been aware of my body image. Over the years, I have ridden a rollercoaster of diets, disorders, fasts, and over-exercising, all to chase after what the world says is beauty. So the quote from the first sentence of this blog can be a bit terrifying to a person who is overly conscious about whose eyes are beholding their beauty. 

We live in a disordered world plagued by crash diets, Photoshop, and thigh gaps. Every day the media has a new article describing “How to Lose Weight Quick” or “25 Ways to Improve Your Figure.” There’s always a shocking article about this celebrity getting plastic surgery, or photos of our role models that have been severely altered with editing. What it says is, “you aren’t good enough.” 

We also live in a broken world with messed up families and relationships. Divorce and loss seems to somehow squeeze its way in and leave a mark on people’s lives. With so much brokenness in our lives, we begin to question, “Am I enough?” “If I was enough,” we think, “they would have noticed. My life wouldn’t be this way.” 

We only see the filtered version of people putting their best foot forward.

On top of the media and our broken relationships, Facebook and Instagram contribute to our dilemma. Every day (usually multiple times a day), we are exposed to posts of picture-perfect couples (you know, #relationshipgoals), Facebook posts of new clothes, good hair days, new homes, cool cars, engagements, and new babies. You don’t see pictures when couples are in a fight, when the toilet is broken in their new home, or when the new baby is screaming every hour through the night. We only see the filtered version of them putting their best foot forward.

If you are like me, you will compare yourself to the flawless photos and believe you’re falling short. As a result, we only post the filtered version of us putting our best foot forward. Everything may be not okay on the inside, but we’re not allowed to show it, so we pretend that we are in fact okay and strive to achieve perfection in the meantime. Kind of like a “fake it till you make it” mentality. 

When we expect perfection from ourselves, we put an incredible weight on our shoulders that we were never meant to bear. So, we wear a mask to make sure no one knows we are being crushed under the weight of trying to attain perfection (and failing). Here's the difficulty with the mask: it’s a false image of yourself and it will always lead to discontentment and insecurity, always. 

If I am being honest, I have a mask that has been on for such a long time that I wasn’t aware until recently it wasn’t actually a part of my face. From the time I was very little, I have been believing this lie that tells me every day, “You’re not enough.” 

But here's what's awesome: with Jesus, we don’t have to be perfect to be loved. And that’s a great thing, because it’s a mess under the mask. Think about God’s Instagram version of you: it’s probably filled with selfies you would never want the world to see. The zit cream on your face before you go to bed selfie. All of snapshots of tears, embarrassment, loss, insecurity, broken families, broken relationships, mistakes; God sees these moments in our lives that reveal our inability to be perfect.

Jesus loves the face underneath the mask so much more, because he created it.

The wonderful thing about being in Christ is that he loves me enough to pull back the mask, remove the filter, and stare into what is real about me—that I am a sinner. That I am imperfect. That I do not have it all together. That he gave me awesome qualities that I fail to see because I’m fixated on my imperfections. He is not surprised by my shortcomings because “for the joy that was set before him, He endured the cross” to redeem me from them (Hebrews 12:2). He loves the face underneath the mask so much more, because he created it. He loves it so much that he died for it.

Timothy Keller said it like this:

“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”

We do not have God fooled by our masks. He knows the things about us that we try very hard to patch over and still He loves us more than anyone. Through repentance and faith in what He did on the cross, we can take on the perfection given to us in Jesus Christ. When your heavenly Father is the one whose eyes are beholding your beauty, he says, “You’re enough.”

Meg Wilson