By Sammie Gallo, Creator and Author of Abundant Life: You Were Made for More
Every month, we’re going to dive into a Scriptural word or idea that can be rather difficult to practically live out. We’ll answer questions like…
- “What does this look like when nobody else is watching?”
- “What does this look in your life right now?”
- “What will this look like in your life this week as you pursue God’s Word?”
This week’s (T)ruth Talk is all about insecurity.
Insecurity. It’s a battle I have personally wrestled with since before I can remember. It’s a battle I still face today.
I read an article the other day that described what most young girls (starting at age 6) experience when it comes to their body image. This study done by Dove, talked about the fact that only 4% of women worldwide see themselves as beautiful – when I heard that statistic, my jaw dropped, and all of a sudden, I became so incredibly sad. Personally, I’m well aware of the struggle to see yourself as beautiful, to avoid comparing yourself to others, and to keep your eyes on the One that made you. It’s much easier said than done, and I know that so many other women struggle with it, too, but never in my entire life would I have guessed that 96% of women feel the same emotions that I do and believe the same lies that I do. My heart broke. It already makes me sad when I have negative thoughts about my own body image, because I know that it hurts God when I judge His creation – but it made me ever more sad that 96% of women are stuck in the same cyclical cycle that I’ve been stuck in. From the age of 6, almost every single woman on this planet starts to self-obsess and fear that their body will not measure up and that they will not be enough or that they won’t be worth of love. That is mind-blowing to me. 96% of women suffer from insecurity with not only what their body looks like, but also with who God made them to be.
I like to call the soft (but strong) voices in my head that come out every year at the beginning of August “my body image itty bitty baloney sauce committee.” For real, every year, it never fails. Mid-summer tends to bring out my body insecurity like no other time of the year. Maybe it’s the heat or maybe its seeing little bikini bodies all over my Insta feed, but it almost always happens.
I’ve spent the past week or so writing about dysphoria, and it brought me back to reflecting on my days in college where I wouldn’t eat anything all day and I’d spent hours at the gym, just so I could look like “that.” I really don’t even know what “that” was. I just know I wanted to be better than I was. I can’t pinpoint an exact moment when my unease with how I looked started, but I do know it was from a very early age. I’ve always been fighting it, and I’ve always wondered why I couldn’t just get rid of it.
I’ve always wanted more self-confidence – I want to be in that 4% of women who think that they are beautiful. Even where I’m at today, in a mostly healthy place and having made a lot of progress in my journey, I think I could use more self-confidence.
And behold, He is making all things new.Revelation 21:5
Then it hit me – what’s true of creation in general is true of our bodies, too, since we are part of the creation. Creation is broken, my relationship with God is broken, and therefore, my relationship with my body is also broken. The fact is, virtually no one has an entirely straightforward relationship with their own body. It’s the way of life in this world. Some people suffer with gender dysphoria, some people suffer with body dysmorphic disorder, or a mental illness involving obsessive focus on a perceived flaw in appearance. Dysphoria is a common occurrence, and its definition is simple. It’s a state of unease or generalized dissatisfaction with life. And while this is true that anyone can see this problem, Christians can uniquely account for it because of what the Bible says.
The Bible shows us that sin causes profound alienation—first and foremost from God, with other alienations ensuing. We’re alienated from one another. And we’re alienated from ourselves. What was meant to be whole and integrated—our mind, body, and spirit—is now deeply fractured. We don’t feel aligned in ourselves.
It all started to make sense. I wanted so badly to feel good about my body, but everything around me was telling me that I had to succumb to those unhealthy desires in order to achieve what I hoped to achieve. At the root of my dysphoria was an immense desire to be accepted and loved by people – specifically men. Now on the other side of my dysphoria, still working out 4-5 days a week, eating healthy, and learning to love my body, I’ve learned that at the root of my struggle, there was an unbelief in who God made me to be.
As soon as I leaned into that, the struggle became a little bit lighter. I saw that my dysphoria was not a result of my true human condition – but rather a result of my broken human condition. And that changed everything for me. Knowing this has made me compassionate. Compassionate because I’m very well acquainted with wanting to change my body desperately – and not having anyone I felt like I could trust to talk about it with. I, too, know what it feels like to believe in Jesus and yet not grab hold of His promises.
When you look at my pictures on my Instagram feed, and even when you run into me at a coffee shop, you can’t see those things. But I assure you, they’re there. I’ll admit, like I said at the beginning, I have absolutely no idea how to silence shame and worry and insecurities forever. I don’t know how to silence shame and worry and insecurities forever, but I have learned how to tell them to hush up.
As my girl Annie Downs says, “here’s the Truth: I can be beautiful and be fighting at the same time. Both what you see and what you don’t see are true. And it’s just good to remember when you watch your friends or family, in real life and on the internet, or when you look in the mirror – we’re all human, we’re all fighting.”
I think I’ll always be fighting this battle of feeling “good enough.” Although I have failed at that many times, what matters is that I’m still fighting. And I know how to tell those voices in my head to hush up, so I can get on with my day, be the woman I’m called to be, and do the things God has called me to do.
For me, that looks like putting limits on my social media use. For me, it looks like actively talking with my go-to women about where my heart is when it comes to my body. For me, it looks like being okay with admitting to God that I’m not okay and that I don’t like where I’m at. For me, it looks like learning to share with my husband every week when I’ve been triggered by words or actions or thoughts that send me into a downward spiral of unproductive thinking. For me, it looks like waking up every morning and starting the fight by looking “up” to the One who made me.
To the girl wishing she could look like “that” – I hear you and I’ve been there. Phone down, eyes up. Although you may always struggle, you also have all the power within you to tell those voices to hush the heck up. Remember, you’re beautiful, even though you’re still fighting.
As I type those words, I’m well aware that I am preaching this to myself. I wake up, every day, and I read the words I have written on a note card that’s taped to my mirror. Every morning, I read the same words. Real. Fragile. Strong. Beautiful. Raw. Daughter of the King. If I don’t repeat those words, I notice myself going through the day, striving for affirmation and worth, and wishing that my body was somehow different than it was.
That’s when it hit me.
I can say those words every single day in my own power. I can believe those words in my own head and in my own heart – I can have all the self confidence in the world – but without the power of God in me, that self-confidence will eventually fade away, and without His power behind the statements that I’m engraving in my head and heart, all the self-confidence I have means nothing.
A few months ago, I was in Texas to speak to a group of students at a conference. During one of my talks, I used the phrase “you were made for more,” as I frequently do. After all, it’s in the title of this resource that we developed, and I’m the one that recommended the name. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said those words in the past year.
Afterwards, a girl stepped up and asked me to dive deeper into what I meant by the phrase “you were made for more.” Turns out, she regularly attended youth group, was being raised in a Christian home, and was surrounded by Christian friends… yet, she still expressed to me that she didn’t understand those words that I said because she hadn’t heard them enough before. She thanked me for speaking them directly to her, we hugged, and she walked out of the room before my scattered-around brain could even get her name.
As I got to thinking about it, I realized how important the message of Abundant Life: You Were Made for More really is. We can’t hear those words enough. Even as an adult, the words from Hannah Brencher hit me today to my core – I too know what it is like to believe in Jesus and yet not grab hold of his promises – especially about who He made me.
That’s when it hit me.
I don’t need more self-esteem – or the confidence in my own abilities.
I need more holy confidence – or the rock-solid belief that I am who I am because of God being who He says He is.
Even on the days I don’t feel like it, I want the knowledge of who I was created to be to translate to the core of who I am. I’m thankful for the reminder this sweet girl gave me to be diligent in praying this over my own life.
Here’s my challenge to you: as you go throughout your week, as you interact with friends, family, or random strangers at a coffee shop, make sure that before you leave them, you’ve done something to let them know that they were also created for more… that their worth is not dependent on what they have to offer, what others think about them, or how they’re feeling in that specific moment. Their worth has already been decided by God – and that is something that no circumstance on this earth can ever take away from them.
Self-esteem is not the same as holy confidence. Believing that we were made for more – that’s holy confidence. And I want more of that.
Remember – He’s in the business of making you new, too.