This is a pretty personal post but I think it’s one of those things that I just need to share.
I’ve never really struggled with body image issues or self-esteem, I’m a fairly confident person, but there is one thing that continues to nag at me.
It has to do with skinny jeans.
I love skinny jeans so much–they look cool, they feel great, and they are so unique–but I have to admit, I don’t fit so well into them. I like to believe I am a stylish guy so I typically try to stand out by wearing things (and doing things) that most everyone does not do, and that includes wearing skinny’s. But not being able to fit into them has become a problem. Both mentally and physically.
I’m starting to notice that I just can’t squeeze into them now, or maybe I never could. It’s probably because I can squat a house when I’m lifting (wink, wink), but probably more accurately it’s because they don’t make skinny jeans that fit my body type. That poses some issues for my stylish mind, and my self-conscious mind. I try not to let people’s words affect me too much, but sometimes they do, and sometimes it’s the words that I personally think about myself that are the most damaging. I love myself, as I hope all of you do, but I can be a bit critical and selfish when it comes to evaluating who I am.
It’s not that I feel judged by the world, even though that is true, it’s the fact that I REALLY want to wear the skinny jeans yet feel like I shouldn’t that upsets me the most.
It’s a simple thing, but sometimes it can be destructive. Some days I really wish my legs were skinnier so they would fit nicely inside tight jeans and not look awkward.
But the truth is, that’s just not how my physique was made, and I’m learning to be OK with that.
A lot of times I feel like we are forced into doing things to ourselves or feelings things about ourselves just because the world and our culture say we should. In doing that we forget who we are and what really matters along the way and it ends up costing us.
Self-loathe has become one of those things that is far too common across culture. But it’s not really a fault of our own. Yes, we can choose the thoughts we think, but there is also an overwhelming influence from outside sources that can break us down. Culture gives us two different opinions. They tell us that internal beauty is the most important thing for us to have while at the same time they advertise outer “perfection” as the way to happiness. But those two worlds don’t fit together. Internal peace and beauty don’t come from our own perfection, it’s the love of Jesus breathing in us that brings them to life in us! And so the strive for beauty can never be achieved by this perfection-seeking mindset simply because it has the wrong idea in mind. Perfection tells us that you have to fix yourself in order to feel good, but Love shows us that He has the answer and it starts by trusting in and being confident in what He tells us–especially that He adores us.
Some say that confidence shouldn’t be a characteristic we seek, especially as Christians, because it is the same thing as pride, but that isn’t true at all. Though the line between them is very thin, there’s a huge difference between the pride and confidence. Confidence is the joyful, excitement we get from the gifts we can bring to the table and the blessings in our life. Pride is the nasty hold over our heart that says we need to think only about ourselves if we ever want to find relief. So to love myself and be confident isn’t prideful, it is actually biblical and extremely important.
There’s also the idea that disgust with oneself and being a humble person go hand in hand, but that also cannot be and is not true. Humbleness is a gift from the Lord that doesn’t come to us naturally, and since it is from the Lord it comes as a blessing not as a burden. Therefore, humbleness cannot have any association to a negative thinking of ones self, because that’s not how God sees us, and He only gives good and perfect gifts to His children. But still sometimes we try to hide this self-hate behind the mask of “humbleness” or “trendiness” even though deep down we know that it isn’t true. Both humbleness and trendiness are important and neat characteristics (I believe humbleness is something we all should have, and trendiness is kind of dependent upon your personality), but for goodness sake, if they aren’t authentic then they aren’t worth doing. In order to truly be humble, you have to love, not hate, yourself first, because only when you love yourself and your capabilities will you recognize the gifts and truth He has given.
That’s one of the greatest things that this “skinny-jean scenario” has taught me. God has given me so many gifts and to focus on some of the things that I don’t like would be a waste of the breath He has given me. His blessings are amazing. It’s like, how am I going to run dudes over on the field or move swiftly on the court if I don’t have strong legs that incidentally can’t fit so well into tight jeans? Or how will I stand tall and confident when I’m speaking and teaching without a strong base below me? And how am I going to be able to hike tall mountains and walk intricate city streets without my two legs leading me? I wouldn’t be able to do so many of the things that I love to do if I was made any other way. God has created me in extreme uniqueness and I want to be proud of it!
And I know that God has created all of us uniquely and purposefully as well. Whether it is your soul, your mind, your emotions, or your physical shape, God has (perfectly) gifted you in ways that others are not, so we should celebrate each of our gifts!
God calls me His beautiful child so that’s how I choose to look at myself. Even if there are things I don’t always like and things that frustrate me, I’m still going to love me because God loves me. I’m not full of myself, well maybe sometimes I am, but I one hundred percent believe and know that God wants us to love ourselves and be excited about the things we can do. After all, He is the One who created us to do the things that we can do! Jesus teaches us that we should love others as we would love ourselves and in all reality what he is teaching us is to love people like He does. If He loves each of us completely right where we are, then we, too, should love ourselves completely right where we are. Of course, we can and should always want to learn and grow and get better along the journey, but that doesn’t mean we can’t live by grace and love who we are right now.
In order to complete the greatest commandment ever given, to love God and love people, we have to love ourselves first.
So I guess if the price I pay for authentically loving myself is to not always be able to look the way I imagine or the way the world wants, then I’m choosing myself over the industry. I know who I am and I am who I am. This body is Jesus’ vessel, I just want to put on a show for Him and love like He does!
For now, I’m going to keep on wearing skinny jeans because I love the way they feel and I want to love the way I look. It’s a confidence thing really. When it comes to my dress I’ve always said, “Style over comfort, but confidence is key.” This means if I think it looks good, I’ll wear it. Even if it feels tight or uncomfortable, if I’m down with it, I’m going to stay down with it, no matter what people say. And the other side of the phrase is that if it doesn’t give me confidence when I’m wearing it, I won’t wear it, no matter what people say. Again, confidence comes from a self-loving place, a good place, so that’s where I’m going to stay.
I want to end with an old Sunday School song we used to sing, it’s one of my favorites. Go ahead and sing along if you know it.
“Jesus loves me, this I know,
for the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to him belong;
they are weak, but he is strong.
YES, Jesus loves me! YES, Jesus loves me!
YES, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so.”
What a sweet, sweet reminder.
He loves us right where we are, imperfections and all, because we are His children.
For you, the struggle might not be the inability to fit into skinny jeans or any sort of self-confidence issue at all. Or maybe it is. Either way, there is probably something that you are not so happy about or something that you want to get control over in your life that you just can’t. In any of these personal issues it isn’t more work that will satisfy you, it is your ability to let go of the problem and let God bring peace that is going to bring the change you seek. A lot of the time it takes God changing us more so than Him changing the situation to bring about the peace and joy and confidence we seek. So give up your worry and your hurts and your fragile self-confidence, and let God consume you with love.
And learn to love yourself–I mean really love yourself! Not fake love, but authentic, heartfelt, confident love in the person that you are, because you are extremely unique and a precious gift to the earth. Don’t worry about the mistakes or the flaws you feel you have, they really don’t matter as much as we think.
In the end, you might even look back and find joy from the things you once were so disappointed in.
Like Macklemore says,
“I ain’t worried about the wrinkles around my smile.”
in Christ’s love,