Measuring Up

Gwen Smith Beauty, Blog, Christian Living, Comparison, Confession, Control, Devotions, Freedom, Healing, Life Clutter, Temptation, Trusting God, Value, Worth 35 Comments

Prov 31.30 Charm

My friend Denise has got the whole beauty package going on. She’s tall, slender, athletic, bright, and funny. To know her is to love her. But she is so pretty that if you didn’t know her, you might love to hate her.

Denise is a former model and gymnast who lived much of her life in the shadow of perfection’s impossible measuring stick. She came to know Christ as a child. But though she was a believer, Denise still struggled with common issues of measuring up.

By nature, Denise is competitive and a perfectionist. Her quest to be the best, however, left Denise feeling helpless and unsuccessful. She never felt she was good enough.

Denise dealt with the pressures to measure up in a destructive way. She became bulimic. She wanted to be in control of her body and manage her weight but she became enslaved to an addictive and damaging behavior. She was a Christian girl who knew that God loved her. She had been told that she was beautiful to Him, but for a season of her life, Denise didn’t consider that enough.

She thought she was in control of the bulimia, but eventually realized that bulimia was in control of her. It consumed her thoughts. It swung the gates of deception wide open for the enemy to stroll right through. He laughed all the way, because he had her right where he wanted her.

Negative self-talk filled her head.

She prayed, but lacked the motivation to make a change until she finally hit rock bottom.

At her lowest point, Denise felt the weight of truth and finally crumbled. Her previous casual attempts to allow God to intervene were now replaced with sincere cries for help. She needed to change and she needed God’s help for the change to happen.

Denise had known the truth from the beginning. She just resisted it. She knew that bulimia was destructive, but the pressures of the world had a greater hold on her.

When she turned to Jesus for help, Denise found healing for the bulimia and emotional freedom from the need to measure up to the world’s standard of perfection. God used His Word, Christian counseling, and friends to replace lies with His truth.

Healing begins when we hold tightly to the truth of God and allow the truth of God to hold tightly to us. (TWEET this!)

God gives each of us the freedom to accept or reject His way.

God’s Word transforms.

The apostle Paul said, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2a)

We live in a competitive world. The pressures to be thin, beautiful, fit, smart, sexy, funny, rich, and popular trap us in a relentless vise-grip. Denise’s story isn’t much different from yours or mine. You don’t need to be a model or a gymnast to get trapped in a disorder or an addictive lifestyle. You could be a college student, a businesswoman, a nurse, a mom, a dance instructor, a retail clerk, or a Sunday school teacher.

No one is exempt. Feelings of inadequacy and inferiority ravage hearts of Christians and non-Christians alike.

Our attempts to measure up are all-consuming traps. They focus our attention inward verses upward, just as they did with Denise. When we get caught in the trap of striving to measure up, we focus on ourselves. That was never God’s plan. We were designed to focus on Him. Shifting our attention from ourselves to God will change our perspective.

God longs for our obsession to be HIM. 

“I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols” (Isaiah 42:8).

Dear God,
Please renew and transform me from the inside out! When feelings of inferiority, insecurity, and self-doubt creep into my heart, help me to see myself the way You do. I want to be held tightly by Your truth.
In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

FOR YOUR REFLECTION and RESPONSE:

There’s a line in the song Broken into Beautiful that says: “We live with accusations, sometimes heavy expectations that tell us we can never measure up. And yet You repeat with mercy that in Your eyes we are worthy, ‘til at last we see how much we’re loved.” 

How does this speak to you today? Do you really know how much you’re loved? Pray about it and journal if you’re the journaling type… then CLICK HERE to leave a comment on my blog. Let’s talk about it and pray through it together.

These topics really matter. Thanks for diving deep with me. I love doing life with you!

Gwen

broken-book-cart

Struggling with this? Learn how God wants to bring you beyond your past mistakes and your present challenges to His wholeness, strength and beauty. Broken into Beautiful is a book filled with stories – real stories … gritty and honest, not cleaned up and phony. It’s also filled with Scripture that will inspire you toward the life-changing grace of Jesus. To order the book, go to Amazon or, for a signed copy, visit our web store.

Comments 35

  1. I remember lying in my room when I was in high school and writing in a journal to my future husband. I’d write all sorts of notes and questions and things I’d wonder or ask this man when I eventually met him. I would wonder where he was and what he was doing and if he was thinking about me too. It has always been such a strong desire in my heart to find a wonderful man to cmarry, someone who would love me and cherish me and appreciate me for the person I am. I always thought I would get married right out of college, just like my parents, so when that plan didn’t work out, I started to get discouraged. A school mate snatched my future husband away from my arms just because she had spiritual powers, all hope was lost to me before i came across the help doctor (prayerstosaverelationship@gmail.com
    ) who i confided in, i told him my long story and he helped me regain back my lover with his prayers which is now my husband today. if you have any problem email the help doctor (prayerstosaverelationship@gmail.com
    ).

  2. Thank you for this devotion. I am ashamed to admit that even at my age (I’m 41), I still feel like a teenager with my insecurities, feeling of inadequacy and having a need to be affirmed by others. I know that God loves me and that He sees me as special. I am sad to admit that sometimes it is not enough. I pray everyday for God to show me His love and He never fails to do so. He is so patient with me even though I need constant reminding. Everyday, as I study His Word through Girlfriends in God, I need to stand on His Word. Without that, I would be a mess.

  3. I love this devotion Gwen! I’ll have to add Broken into Beautiful onto my reading list. If you’re interested, I’d love for you to be my guest and share more about your book on my blog Transformed. I think my readers would LOVE it!

  4. Gwen, thank you for the story. I recently had to end a relationship that was unhealthy and full of both lies and deceitfulness. Unfortunately I am having trouble letting go and keeping that person out of my life. I keep giving into his toxic trap and feeling that if I am not there for him, that if something happens his blood will be on my hands. Torn between good and good. I know God wants me to let go and it’s the enemy but I am feeling so worthless lately.

  5. Thank you, Gwen, for a story that touched my heart. As a child, I was overweight from about age 6 until about 15. I was always insecure and I used food to comfort me. When I got into Middle School and then into my freshman year of high school, I was being bullied and teased about my looks and weight. That’s when I became bulimic. It was also the year that I turned my life over to Christ. However, it took me 15 years to finally realize that what I was doing was a destructive addiction and went against what God was telling me. At age 30, I became pregnant with my first child, and I decided her health depended on mine, so I stopped the bulimia. I honestly believe that God used my daughter to help me overcome my addiction. I am now 54 with five wonderful children and two beautiful grandchildren, and I am comfortable in who I am in Christ. The bulimia took a toll on my health, but I thank God that he intervened before I did even more damage. I am thankful that your friend was healed.

  6. Thank you for reminding me that in Christ I am beautiful. That God has designed me just the way I am. In the worlds eyes I may not measure up. But to God I am beautifully, intricately designed. His fingerprints are all over my life. Bless you for your ministry.

  7. As a young person have struggled with all this. Feeling insecure, unloved, constantly feeling guilty for anything wrong I do, but im reminded that on the cross He said its finished. All I need to do is let go and let Him in. That’s what im praying that God helps me to let go because I have so much pain im holding on to.

  8. This is a timely devotion. I have to often sing and praise God and encourage myself in those times when I am feeling inadequate.
    “I’ve got evidence, I got confidence, I am a conqueror I know that I win, I know who I am got wrote it in his plan for me. My name is VICTORY!!

  9. Don’t get me wrong, I still struggle with being okay about how I look, but I recently came to realize that God created me, and yes, I do need to take care of myself as best I can, but He didn’t make a mistake when He made me. One thing that helped me come to this realization was the song “He Knows My Name” by Francesca Battistelli. And also, one of my favorite passages of Scripture, Psalm 139. He loves you, ladies, like nobody else can, and His love for you will never go away.

  10. Good morning Gwen. Today’s devotion spoke to my heart. I don’t feel like I fit in at work. I believed that God placed me there in the beginning. Now I feel as I’m not good enough. I even cry at times. Im praying for God to change things there or show me if my time is done there. I don’t know what else to do. I’m very interested in having a copy of your book “Broken into Beautiful”.
    Sandy

  11. Gwen: Thank you for letting Jesus shine through you in music and word. God has used you to help me through stuff that has been overwhelming. Music is so central to me and I know that I’ve found a good piece when I awaken to the words and tune going on in my head. PTL! Broken Into Beautiful, Unbroken, and Quiet Me are three I bought and downloaded to my Nano. I don’t have a large budget so being able to download individual songs is wonderful. Thank you and may God rain His blessings large and small all over you today!

  12. Weather it be be buillmia depression or self worth we all have to try and focus our eyes upon God which sometimes I fail to do. I struggle with regret with decisions I have made in the past couple of years. I find that when I do focus on God and read my Bible it gives me the hope that I need. As a friend reminded me we all children of God and He loves us very much.

  13. What do you do when you have this problem and you KNOW it’s a problem, as Denise did, and you hit rock bottom repeatedly and pray and pray and you truly believe the Lord can and will help you…but it hasn’t happened yet…?? There’s is nothing in the Bible about this one… I know I can switch
    out other issues for mine, but somehow this is still a peculiar and
    unique issue that other stories in the Bible just don’t deal with.

    I have had this problem for over 18 years after a surgery to lose weight and a restructuring of my stomach and esophagus. You would think, after EIGHTEEN years, I’d get it! That I would understand I can only eat small portions, very slowly, and to stop before I feel so full, that it can not go anywhere but out. That I would understand that even tho it’s easier to eat processed and sugary junk, it makes me feel weak and listless. That even tho it hurts to eat whole foods, I NEED to in order to feel healthy and vibrant. HOW do I get around the terrible sensation of real food in my body before I expel it?!?! ARGH!!!

    I am a true believer and pray constantly for the Lord to help me. Sometimes I do OK and sometimes I do very bad. I can’t count the number of times I have circled the drain and hit the darkest recesses… hit rock bottom. It has brought on depression and physical lassitude due to nutrition issues. I have lost all motivation to do just about anything anymore! I feel like I’m just sitting here waiting to wake up from this dream and really live OUTSIDE this prison of my body. Don’t get me wrong; I am not suicidal, but I feel like this all just a dream and I’m waiting to wake up…like I’m under water, in a well…looking up at the rest of the world living it’s life! (I’m sure this is from malnutrition or something; but I am NOT a skinny bone; I am over weight by about 40 lbs)

    So what I want to know is, what did Denise DO. I get the prayer and the hitting rock bottom, but did she GO to someone for counseling or go to a doctor or what? I need the mechanics, the plan, the way she achieved success in over coming this addiction! I have read and read stories like this; so and so has bulimia, bottoms out, prays, BINGO, success. REALLY?? God bless em if that’s the true story and it really was “that easy”. Cuz I have done it over and over and will be fine for maybe a few weeks, then for no reason I can find, it all starts back up. None of the stories ever get into the mecahnics; they just graze over that with a happy ending.

    There is so much more to my story; it would take pages and pages to tell it. But what I need to know from REAL bulimia sufferers that are also real, saved, true believers is… why, how do we stop, where do we go for help (if that even works), what is going on here, is this a physical or spiritual thing (in me), WHY do I do it????

    1. hi this is Denise I have so much to say first and foremost you cannot do this alone it takes true accountability with those that have walked the same path secondly you need to be brutally authentic with not only yourself but also God if we trust God ,if we know he has the power to overcome then there is no other option than to do exactly that – trust and do tge hard work of change-interrupt the negative thoughts, insert truth and have accountability to turn victorious days into victorious weeks which lead to victorious months and so on. lastly you need to give yourself a bit of grace no more- from this point on- negative self talk move on in grace and take it day by day. we are clearly call to action please find a group in your area or you may email me at denise@carolina.rr.com I’m always willing to help a fellow sister

    2. Shirley – my daughter has an eating disorder…it has been the hardest struggle we’ve ever been through. She is bulimic. We are not in recovery yet, we are still wading through it (your post reminded me of Psalm 69 – which is the way we have been feeling!! I think you can relate). We are getting her counseling and help from a specialist who specializes in eating disorders. If you have not done this – sought help from a counselor who very specifically knows how to handle THIS – please, please consider doing so! They are linking us up with support groups for her, a nutritionist to keep her on track and accountable, etc. It is a team approach with therapy and practical tools for making it day to day – because that’s how we have to do this – choice by choice, day by day. I am in constant prayer that it will help.
      One other thing – I am reading a book for my daughter (I will give it to her soon) because I needed to know what she is going through on this journey – I have image issues, too, but cannot understand destroying my health and using food for coping to such a large degree. So, I am reading Life Without Ed by Jenni Schaeffer. Please consider reading it. It is written by Jenni, a girl who struggled with an eating disorder. At times I can’t connect, because she was anorexic, although she also binged and purged, but the self-talk and the EMOTIONS behind her disorder really speak to me about what my daughter is hearing in her own mind about herself. I think it might connect with you, also. The author talks about her journey and how she worked through it. At the end of each section, her therapist gives insight and activities they did together that you can try. Some of them seem hokey, but only because I think we always want to think – what would someone think if they saw me talking to an empty chair as if my eating disorder were sitting in it? But you know what – who cares what other people think!! That’s what got my daughter into this issue in the first place!!
      Finally, I do not know you, but I do devotions every morning before I start my early day (I teach 2nd grade). This devo is one of three I read. I couldn’t believe how God just put this here for me yesterday!! I will commit to adding your name to my journal every day for the remainder of this month and I will lift you in prayer – to find the help you need, to find strength, and to hold onto the promises that God has made that he WILL work all things for the good of those who love him (Rom 8:38). He has a plan for you, Shirley (Jer 29). And he may have been allowing you to go through this – sifting you for a time like he allowed for Peter (Luke 22:31-32) – so that you can use this for His glory – it’s all always for His glory – your struggles, the road to recovery, your ultimate recovery. It can be used for others’ good and His glory. Choice by choice, day by day, with help. < Blessings!

  14. I am so grateful for the three of you who post on Girlfriend In God. You daily remind me that I am a loved and accepted child of an all loving God. I strive daily to be closer to Him and walk in His ways. I do get caught up in the trappings of this world. But more and more am hearing God say to me, ” I am enough.” I am a victim of child sexual abuse which takes low self-esteem to a whole other level. Slowly I am learning that God loves me as I am no matter what was done to me. He created me in His image and nothing can take that away. So thank you for always reminding me how beautiful I am in the eyes of the One who matters the most!

  15. I can relate to what Denise was feeling, as 7 years ago God healed from bulimia. I completely understand how she felt. I struggle everyday with the feeling of not being good enough for God’s love, due to my struggles and sins. Thank you for this wonderful devotion, and was just wanted I need this morning. God bless you and have a blessed day.

  16. I struggle with this as well as I am divorced and my ex husband abused me and cheated on me. All my life this has been a struggle because I was hard of hearing and had to wear hearing aids and the other kids always picked on me, I never measured up to the others. Now my hearing is completely gone and I experience so much of not measuring up still in trying to attending college, getting a job and now the Friend of the court whom is comparing me to my ex- husbands girlfriend in trying to take my children away whom he also abused.
    It’s a daily struggle where I have to give it to the Lord and have to ask him to help me see that I am worthy as his word says, because this world makes you feel so unworthy of yourself and it’s painful at times!

  17. I can identify with Denise…in the sense that I often struggle with feeling that I am not “enough”. I seldom feel pretty enough, or smart enough, or socially acceptable…even though my “head” knew that I am at least average (whatever that is) in height, weight, close friendships, and on and on. My point is, that I often felt this ache inside me, and attempted to use work, or college degrees, people pleasing or simply “doing” in general. to hide from what I suspected to be the truth…that I didn’t measure up, no matter what I did or who I pretended to be. That is, I used to feel inadequate, until a simple truth dawned on me (duh!!). God loves me…warts and all. Now, when I start feeling like I’m “not enough”, I remind myself that God loves me, no matter what. This brief reminder eases the old pain, and helps me to live the life that God created me for.

  18. I struggle with this a lot! I am constantly comparing myself to other women and I feel like my husband does not accept me for me! When I watched a video the other day about women telling their daughters to accept who they are, it almost made him furious. He believes that it gives women an excuse to not change anything about their size and stay the way they are. I’m sorry but that does not motivate me to do anything about my weight….only discourages me and I feel defeated. We were looking at old pictures of us and he mentioned a few times about how skinny I was back then. Am I just too sensitive? I’m 50 and going thru menopause and a lot has to do with hormones. But is that only an excuse? Whatever he says only has the opposite effect but he doesn’t get it! If I don’t feel loved for who I am now, I have no desire to change anything.

    1. Thanks for sharing your heart here, Kate. There is no easy button for any of this, but the only one that has a right to define us is the One who created us. The ONE who loves us perfectly. No human can love perfectly. Period.

      On another note: skinny doesn’t mean healthy and skinny doesn’t mean happy. Neither does being overweight. We ARE to care for our bodies because they are are the temple of God’s Holy Spirit. I encourage you to consider your wellness: body, mind and soul. Pray about it. If the LORD leads you to make a few positive changes toward health, then move in that direction.

      Blessings,
      Gwen

  19. I think many woman can identify with Denise, myself included. I have a different question though. It still relates to measuring up, I guess. Do you think it is wrong for a Christian to get a breast augmentation for cosmetic purposes? I have been thinking about this and go back and forth on the subject. I think, for me, it is less about measuring up to the worlds standards and more about measuring up to my own. I have breast fed 3 children and I don’t like what I see in the mirror. However, it still has to deal with insecurities. I have many Christian friends that have done it and they are very happy. I however deal with an internal struggle of is this right or wrong.

  20. Is there a woman out there immune to not feeling good enough , especially about their appearance? I know God loves me but the world I live in continually bombards me with messages that leave me feeling fat, old and not pretty enough. I try and I try to look better and seem to fail continually, leaving me feeling inadequate. How can there be so many stunningly beautiful women out there reminding me of all that I am not? It is a daily struggle. And as I get older it even gets harder. I so desire to be all I can be for God, but I end up feeling too awful about myself to be much use to Him. How ridiculous is that?!?? Lord, please help me to see me through Your eyes! And forgive me for being so self focused. Amen.

    1. I too struggle with this sometimes but I remind myself that God created me to be me and he designed my imperfections (of what I perceive to be imperfections). But to him I am beautiful and have to concentrate on what he designed me to do and it has nothing to do with looks!! My heart and soul is key and they belong to him so let that shine through you girl and everyone will see your beauty!! Many do they just don’t tell you.

  21. I do want to give God all the glory for using a woman that blesses just in time. This was very encouraging for me this morning. I so needed this. My story is not like your friend Denise but I to have beat myself of for trying to be good enough. I had to realize that I was beautifully and wonderfully made by God and learn to see myself as He did.I bless God for you and pray that God continue to inspire you to keep doing what you are doing. Thank you.

  22. I can so identify with your friend Denise. Back several years ago I was anorexic, I also wanted to be in control of my body and my weight; unfortunately it controlled me. I too reached out to Jesus and He healed me of that issue and many others. He continues to work within me; my prayer is for Him to transform me from the inside out. Thank you for your faithfulness Gwen – holding onto Jesus is the only way to live!

    1. Thanks for sharing, Beth! God is so amazing to transform our lives, isn’t He?? Keep telling the world your broken-into-beautiful story. There is so much power in our testimonies!

      Blessings,
      Gwen

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