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What if God Made Me Pretty?

Written By Agnes Lee, Singapore

I am short, stocky, and average-looking. When I was growing up, people used to comment about how flat my nose was. A friend even told me that my nose looked like it had been hit by something.

I was introduced to Barbie dolls as a kid; they were so pretty, tall, and slim. Lead actresses of my favorite television series were similarly attractive, and I wished I looked like them. Though I knew it was more important to be healthy than pretty, it was difficult to accept that God gave me such ordinary looks compared to other females around me.

Around the age of 18, I decided that I wanted to change my appearance. Instead of my usual t-shirts and jeans, I started dressing more fashionably, wearing accessories, hats, and jackets.  I also started wearing make-up whenever I went out. However, make-up could only cover my flaws, not change them. I could not change my height. And despite exercise and sweat, I could not change my body shape either; all I wanted was a bit more curve. I wanted to be pretty and popular, like the models and actresses I admired.

In my early 20s, I met with an aesthetic doctor to talk about possible procedures to enhance my facial features. But after considering the risks and regular Botox injections required, I shelved the idea. Aside from changing my looks, I also wanted to change my body shape, but the doctor could not suggest any procedure that I was comfortable with. Height lengthening procedure is extremely risky as it involves major leg surgery, and the success is not guaranteed. After considering these risks, costs, and non-guaranteed outcomes, it did not take me long to put away the idea of cosmetic surgery.

On top of wishing that I were more attractive, I secretly wished to have a boyfriend. Many of the girls in school who had boyfriends were pretty, and I assumed that I did not have one because I was not good-looking. I was also shy and thought that pretty girls were confident, sociable, and popular because of their looks. I envied them. I hated God and felt that He was not fair. He made so many girls pretty but not me. I disliked my pretty friends. I did not like mixing with them because being around them made me feel ugly and uncomfortable. So I tended to ignore them and their feelings.

I simply could not understand Psalm 139:14, which says that we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made.” I felt that it did not relate to me. I was upset and told God, “You must be kidding me. If I am really carefully and wonderfully made, I would have been a pretty sweet young lady.”

It was not until I came across Proverbs 31:30 one day during my quiet time that I realized how God was speaking to me. It says, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Another verse which impacted me was 1 Peter 3:3, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.”

God is not looking for someone charming or beautiful, but for someone who fears Him. He does not look at our exterior beauty, but at our hearts. These verses humbled me and made me realize how superficial I had been by focusing only on temporal beauty instead of Him. God had never condemned me; I was the one who condemned myself because I felt ugly. In fact, God praises women who fear Him. So if I wanted to be praised by Him, I had to fear him. I had to honor Him by placing Him before myself.

Though I still do not know why God made some girls pretty and not others, I know we are safe when we run to Him with our feelings. His word speaks truth to satisfy the void in us. Bible says in Isaiah 55:9 that God’s ways are higher than my ways and His thoughts than my thoughts. Surely I can trust God that He has made me perfect in His own ways, as it says in Psalm 139:14. He made each of us exactly the way He meant us to be, in order to fulfill our unique individual calling and purpose in the highest manner.

As I progress in the knowledge of His word, I feel called to serve Him in writing. I feel God’s truth seeping into every area of my life and speaking to me. I also gain fresh insights when I read the writings of fellow Christians who share their thoughts about how God has worked in their lives. It encourages me. And I feel the burden to do the same, to share with others my own experiences and thoughts so that others can be encouraged as well in times of need. To write, I need not be pretty on the outside. What I need is a pure undivided heart that desires God above all else, and to make Him my sole desire.

Looking back, if I had been pretty, I might have my earlier dreams of being a model fulfilled. The nature of the job may not allow me to dress modestly, and I may also be too proud of my body. I may not treat my body with respect or remember that it is the temple where the Holy Spirit dwells (1 Corinthians 6:19). God has made me the way I need to be to focus on Him and to embrace my calling in Him.

Now, although I am still tempted to wish for physical beauty whenever I see someone pretty, I remind myself that the world’s definition of beauty is not God’s definition of beauty. I fully understand that I do not need to be pretty to be confident. My confidence is in God who praises those who fear Him and speaks to us in our calling. I am now assured in Psalm 139:14 that I am perfectly made. He gives me confidence that I am handmade by Him personally and that my identity is in Him.

Why Elisabeth Elliot Matters

Screenshot taken from YouTube

Two years ago today, Elisabeth Elliot went home to the Lord at the age of 88.

A prolific speaker and writer, Elisabeth was one of the most influential Christian women of our time, best known for her writings about missions, gender roles, romance, and living right with God.

During my formative years, I was dealing with the usual questions of identity and purpose: Who am I? Why am I here? Stumbling on her books was a happy accident that helped me understand God’s principles and stay grounded in them.

As we commemorate her two year death-anniversary, these are three lessons I’ve gleaned from her life:

 

1) To have the courage to obey

American pastor John Piper recalled how Elisabeth had once told him (while they were on a panel together on world missions), “I don’t think you should say, ‘Pursue joy with all your might.’ I think you should say, ‘Pursue obedience with all your might.’”

Obedience defined Elisabeth’s life. She waited years for God’s timing to start her relationship with her first husband, the evangelical missionary Jim Elliot. Together, they obeyed God’s call to go to Ecuador as missionaries. After Jim’s martyrdom, Elisabeth bravely continued her mission work with a 10-month-old daughter in tow—in spite of her fears and grief. She also obeyed God in returning to the States a few years later. This pursuit of obedience didn’t come naturally, but she allowed herself to be disciplined, purified, and moulded into a vessel fitting for God’s use.

Elisabeth’s example influenced me in my own relationships. Granted, my first relationship was a precious lesson in disobedience. And when I finally obeyed God and ended it, it was not without scars. After that, I learned from Elisabeth to trust God in His timing. Whether it was ending a relationship or refraining from one, I had to learn to obey. It was tough because I was afraid that I’d “miss my chance”.

Today, I’m happily married to the man of my dreams. It wasn’t the easiest path getting here, but it was the right one, and this life wouldn’t have happened if I had not had the courage to obey.

 

2) To be a woman of principle

When people were crying out for the redefinition of gender roles, Elisabeth defended biblical womanhood. She was criticized, of course. Some said she lived in the past. Others accused her life and message of being contradictory.

But Elisabeth was no supporter of inequality, discrimination, or stereotypes. She once said, “I am not here to defend stereotypes of femininity, but to try to focus on the Original Pattern.” Elsewhere, she explained, “To me, a lady is not frilly, flouncy, flippant, frivolous, and fluff-brained, but she is gentle, she is gracious, she is godly and she is giving.”

Whether you agree with her views on femininity, it’s hard to deny that Elisabeth was a woman of principle. Interestingly, because of her steadfastness and in spite of differing opinions, supporters and dissenters alike respected her greatly.

To me, being a person of principle in today’s world means standing firm in the Word even when others challenge its infallibility. It means saying no to bribery or cheating, or saving sex for marriage, when everyone else is doing otherwise. It’s not about being legalistic. It’s about being true to what you stand for, and this affects even the smallest of decisions.

Once, I had ordered a 12-inch Subway sandwich and was charged for a 6-inch. I was tempted to walk away with the extra cash. But I had to ask myself: Do I want to be an honest person, or a person who takes advantage of the mistakes of another?

 

3) To live life to the hilt

Elisabeth was honest with her strengths, weaknesses, fears, and doubts. She loved and lost twice, and was stricken with dementia in her final years. She had good days and bad, and laughed as much as she mourned. Whether she was wife, mother, missionary, author, or speaker, Elisabeth never wavered and lived fully in her circumstances.

I’m learning a lot in this aspect. I’m currently a stay-at-home mom, and often feel like I’m not doing enough. I should be writing more, crafting more, connecting more. But there’s also that new cafe to visit, and that Wonder Woman movie to catch.

In the age of FOMO (Fear of missing out), it’s easy to become discontented and obsess about the next big thing. Yet all we need do is focus on the things that matter and give them our best. It was Jim who said these famous words, “Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”

 

Because God is sovereign

Elisabeth could live out these three lessons because of her faith. It was her confidence in God, in knowing her Father in Heaven is good, that gave her daily courage to obey, to remain steadfast, and to live without anxiety. She knew that she was “loved with an everlasting love and underneath are the everlasting arms,” as she would say at the end of her radio shows.

No human being is perfect, but Elisabeth is as good a role model as we can get for this generation. Her values may appear archaic, but I believe they are vital to navigating today’s world. While she adjusted to her times and situations, she remained true to God. Likewise, we too can be relevant in this postmodern world yet remain steadfast in God’s principles. We too can be committed to upholding God’s standards as lights that shine in the darkness.

May we, like Elisabeth, have the courage to obey, the will to stay true, and the strength to live life to the hilt.