Lately several girls have told me they’re convinced something is wrong with them because they’ve never had a boyfriend. Most chalk it up to being plain ugly, like this girl:
I’m twenty-three and have never dated anyone. I honestly feel like the weirdest, ugliest girl in the world, and all I can do is question what’s wrong with me. I feel if I was pretty like other girls or more dateable, I wouldn’t be single. And quite frankly, sometimes I even question if I’m worthy of being loved or if I’m so horrible I can’t even be liked.
I know life shouldn’t just be about dating, but it’s so awkward when all your friends are or have been in relationships, and you’re just there thinking, It must be because I’m ugly. I’ve come to hate everything about my physical appearance. It’s like my whole youth has passed me by. Because even when I’ve had any crush, they wouldn’t even notice me. I’ve now come to the point of thinking maybe love isn’t for everyone, but I don’t know how well I can accept it.
Single girl, nothing is wrong with you. Not in the way you think, anyway.
Nothing is wrong with being twenty-three and not having dated. In fact, you have the advantage, in my opinion.
My hubby was twenty-six when we started dating. Until I came along, he had never had a girlfriend. That wasn’t weird to me. It was pure relief!
If you read this blog often, you know my story. While I always had a crush on someone, I was boyfriend-less from ages sixteen to thirty—well over a decade. Do I look back and regret the fact that I didn’t have a boyfriend during those long years? No way!
Let me try to give you a little perspective.
Having a boyfriend, dating, is a fairly recent phenomenon in our culture. But marriage was God’s design from the beginning of creation: one man and one woman exclusively committed to each other until death parts them. It’s okay—wonderful, in my opinion—if you don’t drag a string of old boyfriends into this lifelong covenant.
Also, if you’re not dating, you’re saving yourself a whole lot of temptation, as the world claims that boyfriends and girlfriends get to enjoy all the benefits of marriage, but God’s Word doesn’t back this up.
And then there’s the fact that you grow and mature so much in your twenties. You learn who you are, what you believe, what you stand for, what you actually want in a lifelong partner. This time of singleness is valuable.
I can hear you protesting, “That’s all good if someone eventually pursues you, but no guy will ever like me. I’m too ugly.”
If you’ve been telling yourself over and over that you’re ugly, why would one guy telling you you’re not ugly change your mind?
You need to choose to believe what is true about yourself before you put a poor boyfriend or husband in the impossible position of convincing you otherwise.
You are beautiful.
How can I know this, as I’ve personally never laid eyes on you?
Because I know that God, the ultimate source of beauty, made you. And God doesn’t make junk.
I was in your shoes once. You can read all about it in my book, Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey From Neediness to Freedom. A guy who led me on for over a year and a half finally admitted why he hadn’t officially asked me to be his girlfriend: “The spark comes and goes.” With that admission, the Liar (Satan) lodged a big, hairy lie deep within me: “You’re just not beautiful.”
That lie rang in my ears for months.
Until one morning when I lifted the bathroom blinds. The beauty before me nearly took my breath away—this delicate, purple flowering tree reaching up, up, up. While washing my face and combing my hair, I kept glancing at its beauty, drinking it in.
That’s when I saw it. You make beautiful things, God. At that moment, I chose to stop listening to Satan’s lies and to believe that my Creator had not made me ugly.
You make beautiful things, God.
As I write this post, I’m sitting in my backyard surrounded by wildflowers, vegetables, a Rose of Sharon bush, and decorative grasses. Each plant is different from the others, but I would never call anything surrounding me ugly! God doesn’t do ugly.
God made you, and you are not His one mistake.
May I challenge you to repent of believing this lie? Even if you don’t yet feel beautiful, agree with God that “I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well” (Ps. 139:14).
Then I challenge you to change your focus—not on being loved but on loving God and others. After all, Jesus said that this is the greatest commandment in the law:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second
is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:37–40).
This is what you were made for: to love as God has loved you. And ironically, as you shift your focus from yourself to God and others, this is what will put your beauty on full display.
This is what you were made for: to love as God has loved you.
So how about it, beautiful girl? Will you choose to believe that God makes beautiful things—including you?! (If you doubt this, I challenge you to take a walk outdoors for a glimpse of His beautiful world!)
Also, I need to ask, is being loved more important to you than loving God and others? If so, will you confess this as sin to God and ask for His help to keep the greatest commandment?
There is nothing wrong with you, single girl. Go live beautifully.
One of you recently asked, “How do you live 1 Peter 3:3–4? I have an idea, but I’m not sure.”
You’ve probably heard these verses before, but here’s a refresher:
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
How do you live these verses?
Not without 1 Peter 3:1–2 or 1 Peter 3:5–6. Context is critical to understanding what the Bible means. So let’s check out the surrounding verses. The chapter begins:
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.
Ah! So Peter is writing to married women.
Sweet! So I don’t have to listen to and apply this passage yet because I’m not married, right?
But before we apply it to ourselves, let’s make sure we understand the original meaning of this text.
First Peter 3:3–4 is followed by these verses:
For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.
Yowza. This passage is all about . . . submission! Before you start sending me hate mail, let me point out some good news:
In the context of marriage, we are only commanded to submit to one man, our own husband. You don’t have to submit to other women’s husbands (re-read the first part of verse 1 to see this for yourself), although part of being a Christian is respecting and considering the needs of all people.
God isn’t asking us to do anything He hasn’t already done. Did you notice the way 1 Peter 3 started with the word “Likewise”? Peter is comparing our submission to someone else’s. But whose? Flip the page in your Bible to the end of chapter two for the answer.
We are all called to submit to the authorities over us. Not only to those who are “good and gentle,” but also to those who are “unjust.”
Because Christ, our Lord, did so for you and me:
Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly (1 Peter 2:21–23).
Obviously there’s a whole lot more to get out of this text, but let me stop and try to answer this girl’s question about how to live out 1 Peter 3:3–4 as a single. I’d suggest starting with this:
Submit to the authorities who are currently in your life while ultimately entrusting yourself to your heavenly Father. Make your dad and mom’s job easy. Seek to be easy to lead.
Remember that your beautiful face will eventually go, but your character will remain. Don’t trust in your outer beauty to capture and keep a man.
Ask God to help you not fear anything that’s frightening. Seek to grow your trust in Him so you don’t have to trust in yourself during frightening times, but can throw yourself on Him.
Now that you know a bit more of the context of 1 Peter 3:3–4, how else do you think you can begin to become this kind of reverent, fearless, God-trusting woman?
I saw Disney’s new Cinderella movie this past weekend. (Did you?) I loved it! Not only was it a much-needed break from my never-ending work; it also gave me a picture of the unparalleled beauty of courage and kindness in the face of humiliation, suffering, and shame.
If God is your Father, and you are His adopted daughter, then you are a princess.
It was a surprising picture, and a jarring one, as the previews before the movie—and everything our world seems to celebrate—is not letting anyone so much as step on our toes.
But Ella (the main character in Cinderella) shows us a shockingly different way of life. A beautiful way of life.
For some reason, Ella’s mom waited until her deathbed to share with Ella “a great secret that will see you through all the trials life has to offer.” Ella promised. She would:
“Have courage and be kind.”
The movie doesn’t explain how Ella is able to perform this feat in the face of such mistreatment, but she does. After her dear mother dies, Ella is courageous and kind when her stepmother and stepsisters:
Relegate her to the attic to sleep
Banish her from the table at mealtimes
Change her name from Ella to Cinderella because she’s dirty from the cinder in the fireplace
Treat her like a servant instead of the sister and daughter that she is
Tear her dress and forbid her from attending the ball
But thanks to the fairy godmother, Cinderella is able to attend the ball after all, and the Prince makes a beeline for her.
Sure, Cinderella looks stunning. But it’s not her ball gown or glass slippers that first catch the Prince’s eye. Weeks before, she turns his head when he happens upon her on a hunting trip in the forest—when her hair is knotted and her clothes plain. It’s her inner beauty that captures his attention—her courage and her kindness.
Girls, this beauty isn’t just the stuff of fairy tales. It’s what you and I are to pursue as daughters of the King:
“Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses [or shimmering, blue ball gowns!] but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:3-4).
According to God’s standards for beauty . . .
Kindness isn’t weakness; it’s strength.
Submission isn’t pitiful; it’s beautiful and courageous.
First Peter has a lot to say on the subject. Here’s just a taste:
“To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. . . .
“Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence . . .
“It is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:8–18).
But how can we have courage when others mistreat us?
Why should we be kind to those who are cruel?
Cinderella acted this way because she was a princess—not a princess by blood, but a true princess in heart.
And if God is your Father, and you are His adopted daughter, then you are a princess too. Not the kind with a ball gown and a tiara, but a true princess. A princess because God brought you into His family at the exorbitant cost of His Son’s life-blood. This honored position is not an excuse to act selfish but to be courageous and kind.
So when you encounter those bullies at school or at home or at work, remember this: You may not have a fairy godmother to rescue you, but you have the living God on your side. This God is pleased—not when you suffer for doing wrong—but for doing right. This same God suffered for you so you might become royalty:
“You have been called for this purpose [to patiently endure suffering for doing what is right], since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,
“who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in his mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (1 Peter 2:21–24).
This post is adapted from a very personal prayer I wrote in my journal some time back. I think you’ll be able to relate! Just by way of a disclaimer: this post is not written for guys. It’s important that men speak into other men’s lives about being faithful to the women in their lives in their glances (and mostly their second glances!), their thoughts, and their actions.
How I need You, Abba.
I don’t normally think about things like this, but I don’t have toned thighs, and suddenly I’m aware that he would probably like that.
I think it all started when I asked him how he’s most often tempted and what he does about it. He told me he wasn’t too keen on sharing details, but he said the standard things you hear guys struggle with are true, beginning with idolizing outer beauty.
That was hard to hear. He’s not immune to the struggles of men. And with that admission entered a flood of insecurities. (Wait, they were already there, weren’t they?)
Here’s another guy who won’t find me beautiful enough.
I’m not enough.
But then . . .
No woman is enough to capture the gaze of one man for every second of her short stay on earth. Because no man, apart from Jesus Christ, is 100% faithful. And no man is immune to all beauty but mine.
I think the root issue is actually mine: wanting a created man to validate me and tell me I’m “enough,” when only Christ is enough . . . for me and for him.
Yes, I want to “cultivate my garden” for my future hubby to enjoy, but I don’t want to chain him to a leash and insist he never leave my garden without a blindfold and a seeing eye dog.
So I wonder . . . Will You be enough for me, God, when I am not enough for my man? Because if not, doesn’t that prove that I am not living as if Your love, approval, and delight is enough for me?
And didn’t You love me—freely, lavishly—when I was captivated by others’ beauty? Didn’t You love me without insisting that I keep my eyes on You or else Your love would be withdrawn?
Only You can do this, God, ’cause You know me. I’m the woman who naturally keeps track of every glance and suspects ill motive behind each one. But You don’t keep track of my sins. You’ve removed them as far as the east is from the west.
Thank You for exposing the idolatry in my heart. I think the root issue is actually mine: wanting a created man to validate me and tell me I’m “enough,” when only Christ is enough . . . for me and for him.
How about you? Do you expect your future boyfriend/husband to never ever so much as even look at another woman? How do you think you’ll react if and when he does notice another beautiful woman?
I pray we’ll be women secure enough in God’s love that instead of seeking to “imprison” our men and keep them from noticing any other beautiful woman, that instead we help do battle with our men through love, prayer, and confidence in Christ.
“I don’t have a problem with makeup, but I think it should be used tastefully. Light makeup is usually the best.” —Mat
“No makeup: totally ok.
Some makeup: totally ok (personal preference). Tons of makeup: tacky.
“Girls shouldn’t approach makeup with the thought of trying to add something to their physical appearance for the sole purpose of being more physically attractive.
“The greater focus when it comes to thinking about physical appearance and attractiveness should not be on the external, but on the internal and spiritual (1 Pet. 3:1-5). That said, I think it is totally possible for a girl to wear makeup while not unduly craving a more attractive physical appearance.”
“I’ve known many girls who have become super self-obsessed when it comes to makeup. At that point, they’re not really doing it to bless others but probably more from pride or fear.
“I like it when girls wear makeup. I think it shows they take care of themselves. It can be over the top, though, and when it gets too excessive it’s more of a turn-off for me. —Trevor J.
“Honestly, and maybe surprisingly, I don’t really think makeup is a big issue. However, I think makeup use can reveal heart issues very easily, and so we can tend to call makeup the problem, instead of addressing the deeper issues like:
1) Someone always has to feel like they ‘look good,’ or they stress out.
2) They talk a lot about how they look bad when they don’t have time to put makeup on.
3) One of their main concerns is how they and others look, not who they are, and much of their conversation revolves around those two things.
“When I see these things—along with a lot of makeup—the girl is usually dealing with a lot of insecurity. I will usually not spend much time with these girls, because of the chance that they will try to find security in me.
“If their makeup use shows that they are not content with the way that God made them, I believe that they don’t really know that God loves them for who they are. Therefore, they won’t believe that other people love them for who they are.
“Makeup, done for the right purpose, looks great! However, makeup will never cover up insecurity or bad character. I wish girls knew how attractive God made them to be to us! Godly girls are beautiful inside and out! So . . . trust that God and others will love you for who you are and not how you look. And then use however much makeup you want to.
“The root issue is where we (guys included) are finding our identity and worth. If we are finding these in our appearance or in our acceptance by the opposite gender rather than in Christ, we cannot manage our appearances correctly. (Snap! I just preached a sermon to myself.)
“If the heart is in the right place, makeup is more of a preference thing. Some girls look awesome without makeup. Some look awesome with it. Personally, I think a lot of girls overdo it; I tend to think simpler is better. But that’s just my personal preference.” —Micah
“Inward beauty is much more important than outward beauty (1 Pet. 3:4). That being said, I like it when girls take care of themselves. I like it when girls use makeup to enhance their natural beauty. In my opinion, if a girl does her makeup right, I shouldn’t notice it. The makeup won’t be distracting. Ultimately, it’s not about the makeup. It’s about your heart. If your focus is first on pleasing Jesus, and then you want to wear makeup, then great, go wear makeup.”
I hope you found their thoughts helpful! I’m curious: are you a no-makeup, some makeup, or tons of makeup kind of girl? What makeup are you sure to apply before you leave the house?
Funny, for a long time I’d prayed, “Teach me to fear You,” but I certainly never expected God to answer my prayer this way.
It happened at the end of my week-long shopping marathon. My assignment that week was to find and purchase two killer outfits for a photo shoot for my upcoming book website.
Most women would kill to shop for an entire week, but I’d just about rather sign up for a week of boot camp. I only had ’til Friday, so every night that week found me searching the stores and racks.
Monday night was a smashing success only because of the help of a “shopper-iffic” friend.
Tuesday night I set out on my own and returned home with . . . one lone brown belt.
Wednesday my photographer instructed me to look for a third outfit. Bummer. But thanks to a cute boutique on the corner, I found an adorable maxi dress with a necklace heavy enough to require a chiropractor.
Thursday, the final night before the photo shoot, found me in town once again, frantically looking for a little sweater to wear over my maxi dress.
With ten minutes to spare before the mall locked its doors, I spotted it: a short, white, jean jacket. Never mind that it was $118 . . . the photo shoot was the next day, and it was perfect! Besides, I reasoned, I could keep the tags on it, wear it for a few minutes, and then return it.
Just to be sure, I checked very carefully with the clerk to be certain of the return policy. Once I was confident that I would be able to return it, I bought the jacket and dropped into my car with a sigh of relief. I had done it! I had found three outfits with not a day to spare.
But then the Holy Spirit chimed in. I hadn’t expected that, and I was not pleased. I mean, I was fine with wearing the jacket for a couple minutes and then returning it. Everyone does things like that. Besides, when would I find another jacket? The shoot was the next day. It wasn’t like I was hurting anyone or anything.
But the Holy Spirit wouldn’t let up.
For a long time I’d prayed, “Teach me to fear You,” but I certainly never expected God to answer my prayer this way.
And then it hit me. This was a gift. It was the fear of the Lord I’d been asking for! At this moment, I was fully aware of His eyes on me. This decision just didn’t fit with the righteousness I’d been clothed with in Christ.
It sure didn’t feel like a gift in the moment, though. I tossed and turned on my bed, counting the cost of a fifth shopping trip. I’d have to miss work and make up my hours on the weekend. I’d have to go out into the humidity before the photo shoot, and my curls would be in danger of falling before I even arrived for pictures. I’d have to go in search of yet another jacket . . . and what if I didn’t find one?
Besides, wasn’t it enough that Jesus had died for my sins? Couldn’t He cover this little sin, too? Wouldn’t He forgive me?
But then, what would that do to our relationship? How long would I keep away from Him out of shame for intentionally ignoring His Spirit?
And did I really want my sin captured on film so I could be reminded of it every time I clicked on my website?
I knew what I had to do. Yes, Lord, I sighed, and fell asleep shortly after.
The next day I drove the familiar route to the mall. When the sales clerk asked what was wrong with the jacket, I confessed, “It’s not what’s wrong with the jacket . . . it’s what’s wrong with me.” Once the jacket was returned, I went in search of another one . . . and found it a few minutes later for $35! It was a bit too big, but it would do. With that, I was off to my shoot.
Miracle of miracles (and much thanks to Kenra Volume Spray), I am here to report that my curls withstood the humidity, I sported three new adorable outfits, and most of all, I smiled without a twinge of guilt, fully aware of the Lord’s kindness to me.
How about you? What have you been asking the Lord to teach you? Are you willing to let Him teach you through a life situation that costs you something?
In this intriguing video, Jessica Rey explains the history of swimsuits and then explores what kind of power bikinis give girls. (Is this the kind of power you really want?)
Jessica Rey shares how she asked herself the question we all ask at one time or another, Does modesty mean I have to be frumpy and dumpy? (No!)
Hear how Jessica took matters into her own hands and designed her own swimsuit with Audrey Hepburn as her inspiration.
I love what Jessica says in this video, “Modesty isn’t about hiding ourselves; it’s about revealing our dignity.” The dignity we have as image-bearers of God (Gen. 1:27).
Who says it has to be itsy-bitsy? Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:8–10,
I desire then that . . . women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.
So how about it? How will you showcase your beauty this summer?