Lies Young Women Believe Teen Track, part 3
Erin Davis: All right. I’m going to say, “Beautiful.” And you’re going to say, “Beautiful? You must be talking to me!” With a little bit of sass. Got it? (Laughter)
Girl, you are looking beautiful.
Audience: Beautiful? You must be talking to me!
Erin: How many of you when you got ready this morning, you were looking in the mirror in your hotel room, and you’re, like, “Beautiful. She must be talking to me!” (Laughter)
Me neither. Beauty is an issue that can trip us girls up, whether it’s when we’re getting ready in the morning or we’re not. I don’t have time to tell you my full beauty testimony, but let me give you the super Cliff’s notes.
I was in bondage to beauty. I thought about it all the time. My worth was completely connected to what I thought I looked like, what I thought other people thought I looked like, my weight—all of that. I just felt worthless if that wasn’t right, and it was never right. I was a Christian during all that, serving the Lord, but my heart was just a wreck, but the Lord didn’t leave me there.
I went into His Word for answers. I believed what He said about me, and now I’m free of the issue of beauty. That’s it . . . in the Cliff’s notes version.
That was a really, sweet thing the Lord did, and I thought, “Thanks, God. I feel better about myself. I appreciate that.” But He, much like Dannah, He just said, “That was an area of your life where you had a deep wound where I sealed it; I healed it, and I need you to go and tell other people about it.”
So my ministry was sort of born out of that, and that’s what I do a lot of the time. When I’m not cooking Mac ‘n Cheese and playing in the sandbox with my two little boys. I travel and speak about beauty.
When I was thinking about what to speak about here . . . Dannah and I have already done two True Woman conferences, and sometimes it’s hard to stay fresh. So as I was thinking about what to speak about here, it just kept coming back to beauty.
To be honest, sometimes I get tired of talking about beauty because I talk about it so often. It’s no longer something that I really struggle with, and I feel like in a room like this, when we say, “Now, we’re going to talk about beauty.” You guys say, “Oh, they’re going to tell me God loves me the way that I am,” and you (click sound) click your brains off, and you don’t listen.
So I was like, “Lord, can’t You give me something, like, I really want to talk about the eyelids of Geckos. Can you just give me something good?” (Laughter) But, no. The Lord was like, “I want you to talk about beauty.” That’s okay. I’m willing to do that as many times as He gives me opportunity to do it because I know the issue of beauty is swallowing you whole. I’ve seen it in so many areas of my life, and I know it’s not a simple issue. That’s why, “God loves you the way that you are,” didn’t fix it for me because it’s such a complex issue. That felt like a Band-aid, but God has a very complex answer for you in His Word.
So I wrote here that I’m convinced that the single issue of beauty, which is really an issue of understanding your worth, is the most important thing that we could talk about.
We could talk about purity, and we have. We could talk about your friendships, your relationships, your future, all of that, and that’s all really important, but if you don’t understand who you are according to the Word of God, all of that is pretty meaningless.
Let me give it to you in an example that makes a lot of sense:
- A girl who understands who she is according to God’s Word doesn’t sleep with her boyfriend outside of marriage . . . in most cases.
- A girl who understands who she is according to God’s Word doesn’t get in toxic friendships.
- A girl who understands who she is according to God’s Word doesn’t get herself involved in every activity her school has to offer to prove she has value.
So really, it’s this one issue of identify, and worth and beauty all sort of tend to lead back to it. So, as I’m saying, “Lord, give me something new to talk about it,” this is it. This is where we have to focus because they all branch out of this. So I’m happy to talk about it again today. So, let’s dig in.
None of this matters if you don’t know who you are based on what God’s Word says about you. I just want to share with you the most powerful truth I feel like the Lord revealed to me when I was writing Graffiti, which was my first book. It’s a book about beauty. It’s in Exodus. I hope you’ll turn there with me.
Exodus chapter 37 is a description of the Ark of the Covenant. What do you already know about the Ark of the Covenant? Just holler it out . . . gold; held the Ten Commandments; couldn’t touch it—yeah, I loved that story.
Okay, let me just give you the description of the Ark of the Covenant that’s found here in Exodus 37. This guy, I call him “Bez” because he has an Old Testament name, and I can’t even say it. So,
1Bezalel made the ark of acacia wood—two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high. 2 He overlaid it with pure gold, both inside and out, and made a gold molding around it. 3 He cast four gold rings for it and fastened them to its four feet, with two rings on one side and two rings on the other. 4 Then he made poles of acacia wood and overlaid them with gold. 5 And he inserted the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry it.
6 He made the atonement cover of pure gold—two and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide. 7 Then he made two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. 8 He made one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; at the two ends he made them of one piece with the cover. 9 The cherubim had their wings spread upward, overshadowing the cover with them. The cherubim faced each other, looking toward the cover.
That’s a lot of words dedicated to the description of the Ark of the Covenant. The Bible tells us that all Scripture is God-breathed, and it is purposeful. Even the genealogies? Yes. They are purposeful. God doesn’t waste words in the Bible. God didn’t just tell people, “Well, write about this for a while and then write about that for a while, and the people might like to read about this.” No! It’s intentional.
The Bible dedicates two lengthy paragraphs to the description of the Ark of the Covenant. That should perk us up that that description matters.
There are lots of stories in the Bible about the Ark of the Covenant. One of my favorites—one of you mentioned—the Israelites were carrying the Ark of the Covenant through, like a parade, and the oxen that was carrying it stumbled, and this guy reached over just to steady the Ark of the Covenant, and what happened to him? He was struck dead instantly.
That passage used to really bother me, but he wasn’t a Levite. He was not supposed to be anywhere near the Ark of the Covenant. He was in disobedience. The Ark of the Covenant was so sacred, so holy, so significant, that that disobedience had a serious consequence for him.
There’s another story where the Israelites were fighting the Philistines. They’d lost 3,000 Israelites in one day, and they say to God . . . The elders come together, and they’re like, “Lord, why did You let us be defeated?” They call for the Ark of the Covenant to come. So the Israelites go and get the Ark of the Covenant, and they bring it into the Israelites’ camp.
The Bible records that the Israelites celebrated so loudly that the earth shook, and the Philistines who were nearby said, “A god has come in to the camp.” And they were right, but not just a god—our God; God of gods; Lord of lords; God Most High was in the camp.
Now the rest of that story is pretty fun. It involves boils and rats made of gold, so I encourage you to check it out. It’s a good story. Kinda weird, huh? Well, probably quite not that much. I kind of exaggerate.
So anyway, we get from all of these stories the idea that the Ark of the Covenant matters. It’s an important part of biblical history. What does it have to do with your beauty?
Will you turn with me to 1 Corinthians chapter 6? I love the sound of Bibles turning. First Corinthians chapter 6, verses 19 and 20 says this: “Do you not know that your bodies are . . .”
Oh, I’ve got to backtrack just a little bit. Sorry. The reason that the Ark of the Covenant was so significant is because it was the dwelling place of God. There was a place called the Holy of Holies that was said to be the dwelling place of God.
Now, I get it. God is omnipresent. He didn’t actually live in the box, but they put the Ark of the Covenant in the temple, and the priests would go in, and it was the dwelling place of God. Okay? So now we pick up in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20:
19Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
Old Testament: the temple is a box, the Ark of the Covenant.
New Testament, where’s the temple? You. You are the temple.
Do you not know that you are the temple of the Most High God? He doesn’t live in the Ark of the Covenant anymore. And God gives such a vivid description of the Ark of the Covenant. He describes how many cubits by how many cubits it is. This is about a cubit: from your fingertip to your elbow. So I would say, “I wish I was a less cubit or two,” but I’m not. I am the number of cubits that the Lord created me to be. He knows how many cubits by how many cubits that I am.
What was that Ark of the Covenant inlaid with? Several times it said what it was inlaid with gold. Why gold? Because it’s expensive; it’s good stuff.
So the Lord knows how many cubits by how many cubits it is. He inlaid it with good things. Guess what, girls. The Lord has inlaid you with good things. He has given you spiritual gifts. He’s given you gifts, talents, abilities. He’s created you with good things just like the Ark of the Covenant was created with gold.
Here’s my favorite part: What were the angels doing on top of the Ark of the Covenant? There were two of them. Where were their wings? They were up. How were they facing? Each other. Why were there two angels with their wings up and facing each other? What were they doing? They were protecting what was inside of the Ark of the Covenant.
The same thing is happening with you. Psalm 91:11 says that “He commands His angels concerning you.” He knows how many cubits by how many cubits you are. He has inlaid you with good things. He commands His angels concerning you.
Psalm 84:1 says, “How lovely is your dwelling place, oh LORD Almighty!”
Where is His dwelling place? YOU—you are His dwelling place. He crafted you with the same precision that He crafted the Ark of the Covenant. He cares as much about you as He does that lengthy description of that Ark of the Covenant.
Now, I’m not saying fat days don’t come anymore. I’m not saying my hair always behaves, my skin never even . . . I still get pimples, and it’s not fair. Kristyn [Getty] was just talking about that. I’m not saying that stuff doesn’t happen, but in light of the fact that I am the temple of the Most High God, in light of the fact that His Word calls me lovely, shouldn’t that just matter less? The answer is yes. Go ahead. (“Yes!”)
It just matters less when we put it up to the filter of God’s Word. That’s what God says about you. He says you’re a temple of the Most High God. You were perfectly crafted. He knows you inside and out. You’re lovely because He lives in you. It’s a deep truth.
But I’m discovering something strange as I travel and speak to girls like you. You all know what the Bible says about you, but you’re not believing it, and that’s a problem. Let me prove it to you.
Psalm 139 says you’re made, how? (Fearfully and wonderfully) You know it. Are you made in the image of God? (Yes)
Here’s a little tougher one: Psalm 45:11 says the King is what by your beauty? (Enthralled)
You know it, but you’re choosing not to believe it. I’ve come to believe that this issue of beauty is really one of unbelief. You know what God says about you, and yet you get so wrapped up in trying to be what the world tells you to be. You know what? I think there’s something self-serving about disliking ourselves.
There’s something that works about seeking the instant gratification of looking for affirmation from others instead of letting God affirm us. There’s just something really tough about letting God define our value even though He has said more wonderful things about us than anybody else ever could.
So many young women, myself included when I was younger, are like Labrador Retrievers. “Pay attention to me! Pay attention to me! Compliment me! Love me! Pay attention to me! Love me! Give me a compliment!” Like you’ve never received a compliment in your life.
How’s this for some compliments: “I have loved you with an everlasting love,” God says about you.
“I’m enthralled by your beauty.” “You are My beloved.”
I have a good man, but he’s never said anything like that to me. We read those passages, and we just continue to struggle with our “buts.” When the Lord has said we’re beloved, we’re just reading the Word and choosing not to believe it, and that’s a problem. There are consequences for knowing God’s truth but making the choice not to let it sink into our hearts and lives.
Let me tell you why this issue of beauty matters so much. Let’s pretend we’re taking a walk together. We’re going to go out in Indy and get some fresh air. Let’s go to a really nice neighborhood. The houses are all beautiful, the lawns are well manicured, the sidewalks are straight. There’s a cute little puppy in every other lawn. It’s a beautiful, beautiful neighborhood.
We come to a pile of rocks. Are we going to pick up a rock and throw it through a window in that neighborhood? No!—she’s like, “No! Why would you throw a rock? That’s vandalism!” (Laughter) No. We’re not. That was the right answer. We’re not going to do that.
Let’s go to a different neighborhood – doesn’t matter what city we’re in. It’s a run-down neighborhood. You can’t tell if people live there or not. The sidewalks are cracked, the lawns haven’t been mowed in months, there’s graffiti everywhere, there’s litter everywhere. Most of the windows are already broken out.
We come to a pile of rocks. Are we more likely to throw a rock in that neighborhood? Yes, we are more likely . . . I’m not advocating rock throwing. (Laughter) There re always people like, “No! I would never, ever throw a rock. My mom would be so mad at me if I ever did throw a rock.” (It’s not nice.) You’re right, Brittney, it’s not nice, but the answer is: Yes.
It’s called the broken-window theory. Criminologists use it, and it’s why they work so hard to clean up neighborhoods. They know if the neighborhood gets run down, it’s just going to get worse and worse.
So many of us are run-down neighborhoods. We say to the world, “Go ahead. I don’t have any values. Throw some stones in my direction. Abuse me; neglect me; say whatever you want about me; wrap up my identity in something other than what God says; it’s all right. Other people have thrown rocks here before. I don’t have any worth. My worth is all tied up in what I look like. It’s fine.”
That’s why beauty matters because then you get in nasty relationships, and you have toxic friendships, and you cut, and you overachieve, and all these things we’ve been talking about, and you make bad food choices. I hope you know that’s not all about food. It’s about not understanding who you are. It goes on and on and on and on because you don’t understand you’re not a run-down neighborhood. You’re what God calls a “city on a hill.”
That’s why it matters. That’s why you can’t just read passages like, “I’m fearfully and wonderfully made. That’s nice, but now I’m going to have a total freak out about my skin.” No! You have to read God’s Word and believe that it applies to you.
I think that’s why God keeps giving me opportunities to talk about beauty. That’s why it’s not okay just to know what God says about you but refuse to believe it, refuse to let it change how you feel and how you live.
God really used one story in the Bible to drive this home for me. It’s a woman who knew a thing or two about throwing rocks. Will you turn with me to John chapter 7. We’re in 1 Corinthians, so just go to the left a little bit. This is the adulterous woman. She’s just at the very end of chapter 7 and the beginning of chapter 8.
Then each one to his own home, but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women” (8:1-5).
Like literally, they were going to throw rocks at her—think back to the broken city that I just described. Why? Because they didn’t understand her value.
“Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him, but Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you who is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir.”
‘Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “‘Go now and leave your life of sin” (8:5-11).
This woman was wearing a serious label. What was her label? Only thing people saw when they looked at her was adulterous. We don’t even know her name. We don’t know if she had a husband; we don’t know if she had children. We don’t know what she looked like. We don’t know what her hobbies were. We don’t know what her passions were. We just see adulterous, and all those people saw was, “Broken-down neighborhood, let’s literally pick up rocks and throw them at her.”
That’s not what Jesus saw. He saw her worth. It doesn’t tell us in Scripture what He was writing on the ground. I wish it did. My imagination . . . I’m not adding to Scripture; it’s just my imagination. I imagine He was writing new labels for her. I imagine He was writing the truth about her worth. If that’s the case, what was He writing? What would He say about her?
Beautiful – forgiven – beloved – valuable – worth dying for (this was before Jesus died). He was going to the cross to die for her and to die for me. He was writing new labels for her.
I don’t know about you. Well, I do know about you. You have labels. They might have to do with your physical appearance or they might not, but they’re that thing that you feel like, “When people look at me, this is all they see.”
For me, it’s my weight. It always has been. My label has been chubby. People usually giggle. “Ha ha, chubby. That’s a funny word.” It’s pretty funny unless it’s your label; then it’s not funny if it’s your label. I felt like, “When people looked at me, all they saw was my weight. That’s all they see.” That made me become a little more of a run-down neighborhood.
Another one Dannah, talked about when she told my story, “leavable.” That was a huge label that I wore for decades. I thought, “When people see me, when they see the real me, they’re going to see that there’s something about me that makes them want to run, and they’re going to go. All they see is leavable.”
“Perfect.” That’s another one I wore for a long time, and really, that’s the label I still struggle with. I felt like I had to be perfect all the time at everything. That included my appearance, but it included so many other areas of my life.
The example I give is that when I first got married, after work I would come home and sit on the couch and watch television, and I would hold a broom because I thought, “If anybody comes over, if my husband comes home, I need to jump up and act like I’m sweeping the floor because I can’t just sit here and watch television.” It was just my need to be perfect. I thought, “That’s all anybody sees.”
Yours might be physical. Maybe it’s your skin; maybe it’s your hair. Maybe it’s a disability. Maybe it’s a scar. I don’t know what it is, but you feel like, “When people look at me, this is all they see.”
You know what? In light of the Scriptures, those things just matter a whole lot less.
I wrote down some labels of some other people I know. One girl I know just said her label was “uncomfortable.” She said, “I feel uncomfortable in every situation. I just feel awkward, so that’s why I feel that’s what my label is.”
There’s a sweet, sweet girl in my youth group that is smart. She’s really, really smart. Like she would know if geckos have eyelids. I don’t, but . . .(Laughter). She is so wrapped up in needing to be smart. She feels like she has to be the smart girl in every room that she’s now having panic attacks on a regular basis because her school work is so demanding. She feels like, “If I’m not the smart girl, if I’m not the academic achiever, if I’m not the smartest person in every situation, I don’t know who I am.” So “smart” is her label.
“Mistake.” A mistake that you’ve made . . . I don’t know what it is but I feel like we all have them. Some are physical and some of them aren’t, but we have the choice. I don’t carry the label of “unlovable” anymore. In fact, when we talk about it, it seems another lifetime to me, but I could if I wanted to. When we had that prayer time, I could have said, “This is who I am. My dad left, and that hurts, and I didn’t deserve it, and I’m entitled to hold on to this label because it serves me in some way.”
When I have these panic attacks in the middle of the night, I have this big, strong man loving me and holding me and telling me how much he loves me, and . . . “I’m going to keep this because this is who I am. I am unlovable.”
Or I could choose to hold on to chubby. “I’m the chubby one. I’m the chubby girl in every room, and that’s who I am. That’s how I get laughs. I want to be the chubby girl. I’m holding on to it.”
But I don’t. I make the choice to replace them with God’s truth.
The adulterous woman? I don’t know what happened to her. She could have said, “They say I’m an adulterer. That’s all anybody sees when they look at me. They all talk about it. I guess that’s who I am. I’m going to just continue living that lifestyle. I’m just going to continue being the adulterous woman.”
Or she could say, “I had an encounter with the Living God. He told me to leave my life of sin and to have a new label.”
So, girl, I don’t know what your label is, but I’m begging you to read God’s Word and believe what it says about you and stop being caught up in worldly beauty because it doesn’t serve you. The God of the universe is so in love with you I can’t describe it. The reason I am free from the issue of beauty is because it’s no understatement to say from Genesis to Revelation, He’s affirmed my value. He says over and over and over and over in the most romantic language how in love with me He is, and how much my beauty is enough, and He says the same thing about you.
So, yes, you are beautiful, and yes, God does love you the way that you are. Yes, beautiful, I am talking to you. But you have to make a choice whether you’re going to continue to wear those labels, or whether you’re going to replace them with God’s truth.
Is this something you will think about? Okay. If you make the choice to rip that label off this weekend, will you come and find me and tell me about it?