Why Thinking You’re Ugly is Bad For You

It takes 21 days to form a habit, according to Maxwell Maltz. In light of the video you’ve just watched, I would like to present you with a challenge.

What would you like to change about your physical appearance? What do you hate about it? What do you rush to cover when someone yells out “cheese!”?

Now I want you to look at that body part in the mirror once a day for 21 days and say, “I love my _____. I have a great ______.”

Those of you who read my Mirror, Mirror post know that lately I’ve been trying to turn looking at my reflection into a positive experience, with noticeable success, I’m glad to say. From today, I am also going to take this challenge and get back to you guys on the results. It’s a theory that I’ve been wanting to test since it popped into my head while I was walking to meet my mum for lunch about a month ago.

Try it and see!

I’m going to call it the 21 Day Body Beautifying Challenge, because advertising campaigns like to think up fun, fancy names for things that are supposed to radically change your life. But all the diets in the world won’t change how you fundamentally see yourself. It’s the mind, the thoughts, that we are fighting. Not the scales.

Have a blessed three weeks!

Sincerely, Lil

Mean Girls (and Boys): Standing Against Bullying

Crazy eyes gag

He was thrown to the ground by men in uniforms with shiny belts. Small clouds of dust puffed up as he lifted his bloodied face from the dirt. His blindfold had slipped. Before he could get to a sitting position, blinding pain sliced through him, blurring his vision. One of his attackers drew the whip back for another lash, while the others shouted insults at him. “Where are your friends to save you now? Call out to them.” Right before he passed out he felt several sharp pricks into his skull.
A crown of thorns.

Today is National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence. According to the Australian Covert Bullying Prevalence Study approximately 27% of students have reported being bullied in primary and secondary schools. That is 1 in 4 kids. And it’s only the reported cases. What might be even more shocking is that in 87% of these cases peers are present, usually other students who don’t bother helping the target.

Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good [people] to do nothing.”

Standing back may be the easy option, but an onlooker’s silence is validation of the cruelty that bullying is.

Bullying is not just for school children. Last Sunday night on X Factor New Zealand Natalia Kills and Willy Moon bullied young contestant Joe Irvine, attacking his originality and comparing him to a fictitious murderer (Sunday Morning Herald). Ed Sheeran refused to be one of these silent peers and, alone with several other big names, stuck up for Irvine on Twitter, telling him not to worry about other people’s opinions.

There are several types of bullying, including: schoolyard, university, cyber, workplace, sibling, physical, verbal, racial. Most people have experienced it in some form at some time in their life.

If you are someone who is or has experienced bullying, there are three things that it’s important to remember.

  1. It is never okay. It is not your fault, and you don’t ‘deserve it’.
  1. Speak up! I know people often think that doing so will make it worse (I know I used to) but don’t stay silent. Tell someone. Below are some good starting points for seeking help:

National Centre Against Bullying
Kids Helpline
Work Safe
Cyber Bullying 

  1. Forgive your bully. Bitterness is not worth it, and rarely actually affects anyone but you.

Quotation-Anne-Lamott-drinking-forgiveness-

One of the excuses given for bullying, especially verbal harassment, is “It’s just a joke.” If the other person is not laughing, it is not a joke! Words are more powerful than we can imagine and we have to be careful about the nature of our words. Are they encouraging that person? Would you like someone else to be picking at sore spots for you, physical or otherwise?

Bullying can have some serious side effects, like low self-esteem, a sense of powerlessness, anxiety, depression, avoidance of usual activities, even physical illness.

“According to Center for Disease Control, suicide is responsible for almost 4,400 deaths of teens and young people each year . . . and there are over 100 attempted suicides for each successful suicide death” (No Bullying.com).

Let that sink in for a moment.

No Bullying.com says that “the systematic harassment by individuals whose only goal is to destroy ones’ self confidence and tear away any semblance of stability, bullying can literally take a generally positive person and turn them into a morose, and suicidal shell of their former self” (No Bullying.com).

There are various reasons for why people bully. Some assume it is alright to belittle others who are different to them, and other bullies like the temporary feeling of power they get when they pick on someone they know can’t defend themselves. Bullies feel small or threatened so they try to bring others down to their level and step on them to feel large or validated.

Jesus provides hope for the bullied and the bullies. As the paragraph at the beginning of this article shows, Jesus knows what it’s like to be beaten, belittled, spat on. All while a crowd of people watched. He can sympathise with every tortured person who might be struggling even now as they read these words. Because while splints and casts can heal broken arms, and time can heal scratches and bruises, when everyone’s gone home our hearts can remain hidden deep in the left corner of our chest, where no one can see, still jagged and bleeding. Jesus understands our pain (both the bullied and the bullies’) and he’s the only one who can bring our hearts true healing. I know there are no easy answers. I know. Countless tears have been shed over this issue. But don’t let that bully define your worth. Yes, take practical steps to protect yourself, but also take the power out of their hands by finding your worth and value in Jesus.

“He was despised and rejected by men … familiar with suffering … But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
Isaiah 53:3-5 (NIV)

Sincerely, Lil

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Sources

Image 1: Clevenger, T 2015, accessed 20 March 2015, <http://lawflog.com/?m=201210>.

Image 2: Meetville, accessed 20 March 2015, <http://meetville.com/quotes/tag/forgiveness/page8>.

‘Bullying Facts, Bullying Statistics’, last modified 26 August 2014, NoBullying.com, accessed 20 March 2015, <http://nobullying.com/bullying-statistics-in-australia/>.

http://education.gov.au/bullying-research-projects

Burke, E, BrainyQuote, accessed 20 March 2015, <http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/e/edmundburk377528.html>.

No Bullying.com, accessed 20 March 2015, <http://nobullying.com/suicide-statistics/>.

Bullying. No Way., accessed 20 March 2015, <http://www.bullyingnoway.gov.au/national-day/>.

YouTube, published 16 March 2015, accessed 20 March 2015, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8m2tQO9mSk8>.

Fairfax Media, ‘Sacked X Factor Judges Willy Moon, Natalia Kills leave New Zealand’, published 18 March 2015, The Sydney Morning Herald, <http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/sacked-x-factor-judges-willy-moon-natalia-kills-leave-new-zealand-20150318-1m1nct.html>.

Submission, the Dirty Word

What most people don’t know? It isn’t just for women.

A lot of girls I know would shudder at the mention of this word submit. It’s become like a swear word. Su#@!t. You want us to what?! We, independent women of the 21st century, answer to no one. Least of all a man.

Here’s where one of the biggest misconceptions about submission comes in. The Bible never asks all women to submit to all men. That would be madness. When looking at verses in the bible, they need to be read in context, and as one part of a whole. There are actually four types of submission found in the bible.

  1. To God

This is the most important one. We submit to God because He created us and when we’ve accepted Jesus dying on the cross to take away our sins, we become a part of His kingdom. In James 4:7, the word “submit” can be replaced with the phrase “let God work His will in you” (MSG). Part of this is submitting to God’s Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1 NIV). We can’t think that we are above God’s Word. We don’t change it to suit us, we change ourselves to line up with its unswerving truth. God loves us extravagantly and has plans bigger than we can understand. So we can either be people who go our own way like a stubborn child, maintaining control of our own mediocre (when compared to an omnipotent creator) human plans, or we can allow the King of the universe to work in and through us in a way that changes us forever and impacts those around us. To me, that sounds a whole sight better than fumbling through life with my own faulted plans, wondering if I have a purpose or if I am indeed worth anything.

  1. To leaders and older people

How many times have you heard the phrase yelled, “Respect your elders!”? It is a worn-out cliché that I have to wonder if young people even hear anymore. It’s met with a response something like yeah, yeah … whatever. 1 Peter 5:5 calls young people to “be submissive to those who are older” (NIV), which adults may relish quoting as they waggle their finger at you. But never fear, younger people. A few verses before when addressing leaders, Peter says to lead “not bossily telling others what to do, but tenderly showing them the way” (MSG).

Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account” (NIV). Submission in the right contexts is actually for our protection and is designed to bring us freedom, although the world preaches otherwise. Shepherds (church leaders) are called to protect the sheep, and if you are not submitted to their leadership, they can’t take care of you.

  1. Wives to husbands

Here’s the big one. I can already feel the defensive walls springing up. As I said before, a common mistake to make is in thinking that all women must submit to all men. This is not biblical.

Ephesians 5:22-30 talks about submission in marriage, but in The Message version, Eugene H. Peterson rewords it in a way that gently but deftly dissolves defensiveness. He says, “Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support to Christ” (MSG).

Ladies, because we are to submit to our husbands out of obedience to Christ, it means that we do it whether our man is holding up his end of the bargain or not. In the eyes of God, marriage is not a contract, but a covenant. A contract says, “If you, then I will…” A covenant says, “Even if you never, I still will…” A wife submits to her husband as he in turn submits himself to Christ and a marriage is designed to reflect Christ’s relationship with his bride, the church.

A lot of people misquote and misinterpret this scripture, either conveniently swapping in the word “obey” instead of “submit”, or using the verse speaking to wives in isolation. Women do not have to obey their husbands with unquestioning blindness. Children obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1). There is a distinct difference.

I was once told during my university years that because I plan to submit to my husband someday that I was going to get beaten up by him. I thought, Cheers for that piece of unsolicited advice. Free speech at its best. Yes, it can be dangerous to submit to a man who is not godly or is cruel, but if a man truly loves Jesus, this is the pattern he is following: “The husband provides leadership to his wife … not by domineering but by cherishing … Husbands, go all out for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting” (Ephesians 5:23-25, MSG). I bet that would be news to some people, men and women alike. How much easier (and safer) to submit to a man’s leadership if he is giving his life up for you.

Matthew Henry says, “Submission is the duty of wives. But it is submission, not to a severe lord or stern tyrant, but to her own husband, who is engaged to affectionate duty. And husbands must love their wives with tender and faithful affection.” If the husbands are leading and loving according to God’s pattern, submission works wonderfully. I’ve seen it.

Submitting to a husband does not make you his doormat. Men and women were created equal. God created Eve out of Adam’s rib, after all (as someone smart pointed out to me). Not the head so that she would rule over him, or the foot so that she would be his doormat. They are equal in value and walk beside each other, as he leads. We have unique, exciting roles to play, one no better than the other. And when families come under God’s pattern for living, they flourish. It’s a pattern proven over and over by scripture.

  1. To one another

Paul says, “Submit to one another [or be courteously reverent to one another] “out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21, NIV and MSG in parenthesis). This letter is addressed to the church in Ephesus, and is talking to all Christians.

Let me leave you with this thought: submission is meant to bring freedom. God does not say things to weigh us down, but to allow us to live the way we were designed to. Easy yoke, light burden, remember?

He who the son sets free is free indeed.
(John 8:36)

Sincerely, Lil

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

References

The Holy Bible, New International Version (2006) & The Message, The Bible in Contemporary Language, by Eugene H. Peterson (2002).

Benson, ‘Benson Commentary’, Bible Hub, accessed 10 March 2015, <http://biblehub.com/commentaries/ephesians/5-22.htm&gt;.

Henry, M 2004, ‘Matthew Henry’s Commentary: Colossians 3’, Bible Hub, accessed 10 March 2015, <http://biblehub.com/colossians/3-18.htm&gt;.

Image: Eakin, S 2013, ‘Soma’, accessed 16 March 2015, <http://wearesoma.com/blog/submission-a-gift-we-offer/&gt;.