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Sometimes itís hard for women to believe that thereís anything pretty about themselves, but Tamyra Horst challenges that assumption.

My husband thinks Iím beautiful. Iíve responded to his compliments in a myriad of ways, most of them not positive. Some of them have even gotten me words of reproach and sad looks.

But Iím trying to accept Timís compliments, to believe that he thinks Iím beautiful. Iím beginning to come to terms with the idea that there really is some beauty in me, that my husband isnít totally crazy. His words make me smile, sit a little straighter, try a littler harder.

Iíve never thought of myself as pretty, let alone beautiful. I have too many freckles, an overabundance of gray hair, a few too many pounds, and wrinkles are beginning to etch themselves around my eyes. The list of complaints about my body goes on and on. If I could, thereís more that Iíd change than keep the same.

But Iím trying, like exercising regularly, eating better, and reminding myself that real beauty shines from the inside out. (Thatís what my mother always told me.) Iím also trying to walk more confidently.

And Tim is cheering me on every step of the way. He walks with me early in the morning or on Saturday afternoons. He tells me how much he appreciates my efforts to take care of myself. And he keeps telling me that Iím beautiful. When he does, I forget my negative thoughts, smile, and simply say, “Thanks.” Iím learning to live with the idea that maybe thereís something pretty in me after all.

Godís love for me

One night as I thanked God for a husband who sees beauty where I can see none, I was stunned by the thought that Timís love is a reflection of Godís love for me. If I can learn to accept Timís love and revel in it, then maybe I can do the same with God. I can believe that He sees me as perfect, a woman who is capable and gifted. Iím trying to understand that just the thought of me causes Him to break into song (Zephaniah 3:17).

All I see in myself is sin and selfishness. My will is too weak; my courage, too faulty. I feel inadequate, incapable of accomplishing anything important. I feel like I have no talents. Iím just a very messed up person.

But His love makes me perfect. Itís nothing Iíve done. Iím forgiven, changed. Thereís no reason to feel guilty anymore, no reason to focus on my sinfulness. Instead, God wants me to focus on the One who makes me fully perfect.

He longs for me to believe that He sees me as capable, and when He brings an opportunity my way, I shouldnít beg Him to find someone more able, more adequate, more spiritual. I should believe that He knows what needs to be done, and He will give me the ability to carry out what He asks me to do.

Learning to live what God believes about me is hard. What Iíve believed about myself all along is so ingrained in my thinking, but I remind myself of His words of love and delight for me in the Bible. I memorize them, repeat them, and exercise my faith by stepping out of my comfort zone into the opportunities He gives. Believing that He will accomplish through me what He has called me to do, I find that He does.

God thinks youíre beautiful too. He sees you as capable, gifted, and perfect. He knows that with Him on your side, everything He calls you to do, you can do. You are His delight, His treasure, the apple of His eye (see Psalm 17:8).

Are you living in that belief?

Most of us donít really believe in ourselves. We doubt in the core of our being that thereís anything lovable or beautiful in us. We too easily see the faults, the mistakes, the failures. We worry about the extra pounds and growing wrinkles. We wish we were taller, shorter, thinner. We long for other peopleís abilities instead of our own—if we even believe that we have any. We just donít like ourselves.

When I read that four out of five American women were dissatisfied with their appearance, I wasnít surprised. Every woman I know would change something about herself. But it did surprise me that only 2 percent of American women surveyed described themselves as beautiful. And that 33,000 women told researchers that they would rather lose 10 to 15 pounds than achieve any other goal.

Any other goal!

Itís an attitude weíre passing on to our daughters. While only one out of ten high school girls is overweight, nine out of ten high school juniors and seniors diet, and 81 percent of ten-year-old girls is afraid of being fat. Two-thirds of eighteen- to twenty-five-year-old girls surveyed said that they would rather be mean or stupid than fat.

But God wants us to like ourselves. He does. He loves us. And He desires us to value ourselves with the price that He paid for us. He paid the ultimate price: His Son. What value we have to Him! In order to accept the value that He gives, to believe the beauty that He sees, we have to relearn. Undo all that weíve told ourselves for years. And remind ourselves of Godís love and value.


How to change our thinking

Iíve discovered seven things I can do that help me to be more realistic about myself, and Iíd like to share them with you.

1. Be realistic. Weíre all different sizes and shapes. The models we see on magazines are 20 to 30 percent underweight and have had a team of physical trainers, makeup artists, hairstylists, fashion designers, photographers, and airbrushing experts to achieve their look. Most of us are never going to look like them. And thatís OK!

2. Remind yourself that you are so much more than your appearance. Donít let your looks or size be your identity. Women surveyed listed happiness, kindness, confidence, dignity, humor, wisdom, intelligence, and faith as more important than physical appearance. Live like it.

3. Donít compare yourself to others. Comparing creates an atmosphere of competing. We canít accept or care about others if weíre comparing and competing with them.

4. Take care of yourself. Do the things that make you feel good about yourself. Exercise. Take a bubble bath. Wear pretty clothes. Try new hairstyles. Splash on a fragrance you love. Pamper yourself. Taking care of yourself shows that you care about you.

5. Learn something new. Take on a challenge. Try a class youíve always wanted to take. Make a list of things youíd like to do, and start doing them.

6. Watch your language. God doesnít like people talking bad about His children, and youíre His child. Donít put yourself down. Accept compliments graciously.

7. Tell yourself the truth. The devil is constantly feeding us lies about ourselves. He wants us to believe that weíre not beautiful and that we have no value so that he can render us useless. Immerse yourself in Godís truth. Create a journal of verses that tell what God thinks of you. Write your name in them.Personalize them. Make them yours and believe them.

God declares in Jeremiah 31:20: “ ĎYou are my dearest son, the child I love best. Whenever I mention your name, I think of you with love. My heart goes out to you; I will be mercifulí ” (TEV). Itís time we live like we believe it.

Me, Beautiful?

by Tamyra Horst
From the July 2007 Signs