I love my bedtime ritual. Around 10:00 p.m. I go to bed. First, I pray and read my Bible. Then, if I’m still awake enough, I get my “nerd” on and read my Smithsonian or National Geographic magazine. I absolutely love it! It’s like going to a really nice museum without the crowds, walking, over-priced, tasteless food, or having to talk in whispers. (I really hate that last one.)
Last night, as I was reading my magazine, I came across an advertisement for an organization that helps care for children in poorer parts of the world; I was shocked by the horrific picture of a child that showed how the entire top of his mouth wasn’t formed correctly. The advertisement went on to explain that this child had something called a “cleft palate.” Many children in poorer parts of the world don’t have the benefits of prenatal care, so they’re born with many kinds of preventable birth defects. Fortunately, all this could be fixed with money that would give these children the opportunity to have plastic surgery.
After reading that advertisement, I began to think about an article I read on the same topic: plastic surgery. But what I read scared me for a different and much sadder reason. Let me explain. The author’s main point was that a lot of people aren’t satisfied with the way they look, and many of them seriously consider getting plastic surgery in search of a perfect body.
The author went on to observe that many times people make the decision to have plastic surgery without fully considering the outcome. The results, however, are permanent. The author feels that this is a result of a culture that is accustomed to having everything instantly and without much work or sacrifice on their part.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen this issue increase dramatically throughout the many years that I’ve spent time with people. Of course, it’s nothing new; countless people dislike at least one thing about their body. The desire to change one’s physical appearance is often rooted deep beneath the skin. I’ve noticed that often, when people want plastic surgery, it’s because they have been teased or bullied about the attribute they despise so much. Many times this can cause their self-esteem to drop, making them wrongly reason that things would be better if only they got that one physical feature fixed. The problem is that their real issue isn’t external, it’s internal--emotional, and no amount of surgery is ever going to fix that. They must learn to see themselves as more than just skin deep, and many times in this image-driven, “beautiful people” culture, that is very hard to do.
Not the “What” but the “Why”
I don’t want you to think that all plastic surgery is sinful and only shallow people do it. The important thing to consider is why people want to have it. For someone who’s been in a horrific accident, or who’s had some sort of disease that’s terribly disfigured a part of their body, it can be a very important part of the healing process. Many times females decide to get breast reductions, which is technically plastic surgery, but if they don’t, they could have lifelong, chronic neck, shoulder, and back problems.
Being “OK” with Being…Okay
So how do you learn to be OK with how you look? First, you must see yourself through God’s eyes. Here’s the bottom line: God loved you so much that He sent His son, Jesus, to die for you (John 3:16). Check out how God describes, not only the creation, but the function of our bodies:
You are the one who put me together inside my mother’s body, and I praise you because of the wonderful way you created me. Everything you do is marvelous! Of this I have no doubt. Nothing about me is hidden from you! I was secretly woven together deep in the earth below, but with your own eyes you saw my body being formed. Even before I was born, you had written in your book everything I would do (Contemporary English Version, Psalm 139:13-16).
Did you catch it? The author uses words such as “wonderful way,” “created,” “marvelous,” and “woven,” to describe how God created his body. Next, I find it interesting to note that during creation, the only two things that God did with His own hands were: plant the Garden of Eden and make human beings.
Finally, you need to spend time with people who will love you for yourself and not just how you look. That means you might have to make some tough decisions about people you won’t hang out with. This responsibility falls not only on you but also on your friends to create effective and healthy boundaries and only allow supportive, nurturing people in your inner circle.
God ≠ Junk
I hope that this brief discussion has caused you to rethink your opinions and how you view your physical appearance. Sometimes living in this culture can make us forget that, after all: God don’t make no junk!