Have you ever felt like people really looked up to you? That you were admired, influential, and let’s face it, downright popular? Yeah, I wasn’t that person in middle school.
I was an official GERD: a geek/nerd. I was not cool, by any means, but there was a big desire in me to belong. Actually, I remember doing some very extensive research on how to be accepted.
At 12 years old, I remember being utterly and hopelessly captivated by style and gossip magazines. Standing in line at grocery stores I would see them there, rows of magazine covers, targeted at the innocent, yet curious mind. From relationship advise and fashion tips to celebrity gossip and the latest hair styles, the bold titles of the articles of these magazines were enticing and I couldn’t help myself, I wanted to know what was in those pages.
I would pick one up and begin to read. My mind would explode. I was transfixed by the latest and greatest, what’s hot and what’s not and I felt a mixture of hope and despair flow through me as I saw the gap between who I could become and who I was. I was like a caterpillar who discovered an instruction manual to becoming a butterfly.
I loved the world of fashion and the glamorous and drama-filled life of celebrities. It was everything I wasn’t but hoped to be. The confidence, the beauty, the gracefulness, the strength of the women on these covers was nothing short of perfection in my eyes. Back then, perfect mattered. Perfect is what got you the job. Perfect is what got you the boy. Perfect is what set you apart from all the others. In this heart of mine, I believed perfection was obtainable, if I simply listened carefully to the advise of the butterflies.
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What once was a portal of discovery became a tearing of my identity. Who was I if I was not them? For years, they proclaimed I was beautiful just the way I was, yet in the same breath, without hesitation, advised me on ways I needed to improve. What’s worse, is I believed them. I believed I needed to be trendy to be accepted, make up my face to be beautiful, be confident to attract a guy, and slowly I changed into who I thought was the better version of me. In reality, I was embracing an entirely different identity all together.
I wasn’t the only one. All around me were girls looking at advise columns and TV shows for “inspiration” on fashion, dating, fitness, family and the like. Looking back now, I see we were simply repeating the steps of our ancestors. You see, there was a time when the Israelites wanted what everyone else had because they were discontented with who they were.
As the story goes, the Israelites were a one-of-a-kind type of nation. They had only one God, while other nations had many gods. They were ruled by God-appointed leaders and not by a king, which was unheard of. Even down to their diet, God set them apart from others. However, they grew tired of being different from everyone else and in 1 Samuel 8:5, it says the elders of Israel gathered together and told the prophet Samuel, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”
Yes, “such as all the other nations have” is the reason for their request. In their mind, they wanted to be normal, and have a king like everyone else because that is what they believed would help them prosper. However, God did not see it that way. A few verses later, God talks to Samuel and says, “they have rejected me as their king.”
God was rejected, pushed aside, by this seemingly innocent request for a leader. I used to think that was a little dramatic. However, if you look beyond the surface, you will see it wasn’t innocent at all. They were looking up to the other nations, and in a way, following their example, above the Lord. This, my friend, is called idolizing.
An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, “If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.
God is very serious about us not having idols. Just take a look at the first commandment: You shall put no other god before Me. Listen Princesses, an idol does not have to be made out of stone and wood for us to worship/bow down to it. Tim Keller in his book “Counterfeit God”, has written a wonderful definition of an idol.
Models, actors, style icons, musicians, bloggers can easily become our idols, if we allow them to. However, know that God, in His most purely loving way, is jealous for you. He wants you to follow the example of Jesus, not Jennifer Lawrence, as cute as she is. In Psalms 115:8, it speaks of idols and says, “Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.” In other words, followers look a lot like their leader.
At 17, God revealed to me a brokenness in my heart. I had given people such a power over me that their words made me question my worth, their opinions became my law, and following their steps led me further from God and closer to them. I did not know who I was, so I looked for it in people, places and things. I was like a sheep, who completely abandoned her Shepherd, in search for some nice green grass on the other side, only to end up nameless, lost and alone. God found me though, right where I was, and the lost sheep without a name was given an identity: Daughter of Christ.
When I was face-to-face with my Father, I no longer felt the need to look at the shelves of magazines. Looking into the eyes of my Father, I saw only delight in who I was, and I knew I was enough for Him. Listening to His words, all I heard was how beautiful I was to Him and how His love for me was never-ending and never-failing. When I took it a step further and let Him be my counselor, I received nothing short of the greatest lessons for how to live my life.
I do not want to be like the Israelites, who wanted a leader like everyone else had. I do not want to be like the caterpillar, who believed if only she was a butterfly then she would be good enough. I do not want to be like the sheep, who searched for satisfaction outside of the Shephard’s love.
I want to be a follower of Christ, in every way. I want people to know that Jesus is my Lord because of the way I speak, act, talk, and walk. I want to love who I am and not desire to be anyone other than me. I want God to be the King of my life, even if that means I will be different from all those around me.
And I never again want to forget who I am…
But if I stay looking into His eyes, He will never let me forget: I AM HIS PRINCESS.
And so are you.
Romans 12:2 (NLT)
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.