“You are altogether beautiful; and there is no flaw in you.” Song of Song 4:7
Up until a few years ago, I had never heard this scripture. Now I cling to it; not just for me, but for the husband and children I love and fight for.
When I first stumbled upon these words from Song of Songs, I was so intrigued. I felt like I had discovered a precious jewel. And just like you might hold a jewel in your hands, mesmerized by its beauty and brilliance, I held these words in my heart – captivated by what they might mean for me…
I am altogether beautiful, and there is no flaw in me.
Altogether beautiful? No flaw in me?
Sadly, it didn’t long before the voice of cynicism inside my head taunted me with the lie that this jewel of a scripture is really a complete joke.
“Riiiight… I am altogether beautiful, and there is no flaw in me. Seriously, God? I don't know what realm You’re living in, or what lens You’re looking through when You say this to me, because I can assure you, I am not altogether beautiful and there are many flaws in me.”
If we’re honest, we don't really believe this about ourselves at all. When we look in the mirror, we see all kinds of flaws; we feel all kinds of unworthy. We don’t we measure up; we’re not enough.
If only I were ____. If only I had _____. If only I could do ______.
But the TRUTH is that when God looks at us He says, “You are altogether beautiful, and there is no flaw in you.”
How can this be? What do these words really mean?
Years ago, long before I was ever married or had kids, a friend of mine (who was married and had kids) warned me:
“Jenny, you will never see yourself as clearly as you will through the eyes of your children.” Meaning, you will never see your FLAWS as clearly as you will through the eyes of your children (and husband). At the time, I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about. Then I got married and had kids. Wow – how right she was. Marriage and motherhood have successfully exposed every flaw, weakness and insecurity I have – and even some I didn’t know I have!
I wasn’t prepared for that. I mean, I had already ‘been there, done that’ with the self-image thing – having dealt with my share of insecurities and comparisons in middle school, high school and even college. Now I was a grown woman. Wasn’t I supposed to be over all that?
I’d dreamt of getting married and having kids since I was a little girl. Once I fulfilled that dream, surely life would be 'happily ever after', right?
The way my story goes, I felt more peer pressure and deeper insecurities as a young wife and mom than I ever did as a teenager. And because this inner struggle caught me so off-guard, I hid it away in secret – out of confusion, shame and pride.
I struggled with who I was, and who I thought I should be. I struggled with who my husband was, and who I thought he should be. I struggled with where we lived, and where I wished we lived; what car I drove; what clothes I wore; what salary we made, and on and on.
The nasty game of comparison.
If only I were ____. If only I had _____. If only I could do ______.
I was playing the game and it was exhausting me; and I was losing. Nothing and no one was ever enough, including me.
It’s funny how life’s circumstances have a way of impressing themselves in our memory. One day I was driving down the road, not far from home – pregnant with #3, plus a baby (#2) and a toddler (#1) in car seats. I can still remember the exact intersection I had pulled up to - driving the car that wasn’t nice enough, back to our little duplex that wasn’t big enough; to be the wife and mom that wasn’t perfect enough. I’d been listening to the radio and had turned to the Christian radio station just in time to hear a quick sound bite from a well-known Christian singer being interviewed. She said, “I know who I am, and I know who I’m not.”
From THE moment I heard those words, they were permanently imbedded in my brain, replaying themselves over and over in my mind. I know who I am, and I know who I’m not. I so desperately wanted to be able to say that with confidence and surity. I wanted to know who I am, and who I’m not - and be ok with that.
But I couldn’t, and I wasn’t.
That process didn’t happen over-night. It’s been quite a journey. It’s required humility and courage. And I’m still learning how to live in the freedom of who I really am; and let go of who I’m not.
One day recently, the lie of comparison had crept back in. I was in a restless funk, feeling like crap as I compared myself to a friend who I decided had it all together, while I was a big failure. I walked into a meeting at church that was just beginning with a prayer. During the prayer, someone began to pray these words, “Lord, thank You for loving us and for designing us exactly as we were meant to be. Help us to see that we are perfect just as we are; and that we are all puzzle pieces – each having a place in Your design; each one of us unique and necessary for Your plan.”
Those words of truth washed over me in the most powerful way, and I felt an immediate sense of relief and freedom. The weight of comparison was lifted. I was designed exactly as I was meant to be. I am perfect – just as I am. I have a place. I am necessary. I don’t have to be her; all I have to be - is who God created ME to be.
I think I’ve heard Psalm 139 a gazillion times in my life, but I read it so differently now…
“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in that secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body.” (Psalm 139:13-16)
God knit us together in our mother’s womb. He intricately made and designed our physical body. Now when it comes to our body image, and our ability to accept our our physical size and shape, that’s SUPER HUGE. But God did so much more than create our physical being. He created our inmost being. And our frame. Psalm 139 says our “frame” was not hidden from Him, and His eyes saw our “unformed body”.
God created so much more than just our physical frame and our formed body. He created our inmost being - He designed us through and through. If we were woven together in the depths of the earth; if God saw our “unformed body” – that means He WOVE together and DESIGNED our entire person, which includes our personality, our temperament, our intellect, our gifts and strengths, AND yes, even our weaknesses, inabilities and disabilities too. Every single part of us – who we are and who we’re not - was chosen and ordained by Him - for a purpose!
God knows who we are and who we’re not, because HE CREATED who we are and who we’re not! And HE LOVES US – just as we are.
So moms, here’s the thing. In her blog “Know Who You Are (Not)”, Stef challenged us to open up our MPC and start with our self page. This fight for our family has to start with the fight for ourselves. What we see in the mirror, is what they see in the mirror. So it’s time for us to let God wash over us with His healing love and rewrite the lines with His freeing truth - about who we are and who we’re not. Because we’ve got daughters and sons at home, who desperately need their mom to know who she is and who she’s not, so that they can do the same.
The self page in your MPC is an incredible invitation along this journey of discovering who you are and who you’re not. But it requires courage and vulnerability. I can’t tell you how empowering it has been for me to actually pick up a pen and write down every gift and strength that God has given me. And to go beyond just “knowing it”, but to thank God for the gifts He’s given me; recognizing who HE has designed me to be. I encourage you to take the time to do this. Ask God to show you how “altogether beautiful” you are. And if you need some inspiration, we have a worksheet on our website specifically designed to help you discover your gifts – maybe gifts you never even knew you had!
And have the courage to know who you’re not – ask God for the humility to write down your weaknesses, struggles, and the lies you battle in your head. Wow. To actually name them and surrender them over to God, who loves you, and wants to heal you. What relief and freedom it brings. And once again, we have a worksheet to help you name some of those weaknesses, struggles and lies.
See, the truth is – we are flawed. We’re all broken and imperfect. But there’s a far greater truth…
We’re not defined by our flaws.
We’re not defined by our strengths either.
We are defined by His love.
Your identity doesn’t lie in who you are, or who you’re not. Your identity lies in being the precious child He loves. THAT, my friend, is the reason He looks upon you and says, “You are altogether beautiful, my love, and there is no flaw in you.”