Last year in September, fashion merchandiser turned full-time ministry worker Josephine Lam shared her wonderful life story at the Not Gonna Lie online conference organised by Singapore Youth for Christ and Kallos. Her topic was one that is close to every woman’s heart – the meaning of true beauty.
How many of you are honest enough to say that you’re obsessed with beauty?
During the first few years of my life, I already felt that I needed to look beautiful so people would like me.
I was very concerned with how I looked as a little girl. At 6 or 7 years old, I would constantly look in the mirror, thinking to myself, “Wow, I wish my eyes could be bigger. I wish my nose could be higher.”
I weighed myself every five minutes to check if I had gained any weight or not.
My relatives and my mum would always ask and comment on my physical beauty. My mum would say, “Oh, you look so pretty today.”
On the other hand, my relatives could be really blunt and tell me, “Why do you have a tummy? Why are you so fat?”
When I was in high school, I had one obsession. I would bring a mirror with me wherever I go. I had a pencil case with a mirror in front of me so that I could look at myself, and what kept me up at night was thinking about what I should wear the next day.
Before I entered into full-time ministry, my dream job was to be a stylist who would help celebrities and dress them up.
That’s why I was a merchandiser and buyer for the fashion industry. I was also obsessed with makeovers, especially looking at pictures of people before they applied makeup and after.
Even after I had gotten married and was pregnant with my son, I was on a very rigid diet.
I weighed myself every five minutes to check if I had gained any weight or not – if the number went up, I would be very depressed. And when it went down, I would be very happy.
At the time my whole happiness was found on the scale… but I was already on a journey to find my true identity.
WHO IS THAT GIRL I SEE?
Upon moving to Canada, my husband was the first person who I met in church.
I felt very attracted to him because of the joy he had. That’s who he was (and still is) and because of him, I stayed at the church.
His name is Jacob, and he was never obsessed with my physical beauty.
In fact, he disliked it when I spent too much time in front of the mirror to beautify myself! Because he found that when I did that, I changed as a person.
So God used my relationship with my husband to help me see there is a man who loves me not because of my physical appearance, but because he cares about who I am.
Through one of the church sermons, I heard this wonderful news that told me who I really am.
Everything was meant to be good and perfect when God first created the world, but none of us can experience that because of something called “sin”.
It’s how we have rejected God in our lives. We don’t want Him because we want to be our own boss.
Yet, God loves us so much that He wants us to have a relationship with Him, so He sent His only son, Jesus, for us.
Through Jesus, we can be cleansed of our sins, and be presented before God as pure and righteous. We can rebuild this relationship with Him again through the cross!
MAKE-UP AND THE MESSIAH
God then used what I loved – makeup – to show me how I can spread the gospel of His word.
With the eyeliner, it was like Jesus was opening up my eyes when I put my trust in Him, so I can see and experience things that I never have before.
For the blusher, I know that God is with me and the joy I have comes from Jesus. In all circumstances, whether good or bad, Jesus is the one who can calm the biggest storms in my life.
Finally, when I apply lipstick, I want to tell everybody about all the good things that He has done in my life, the new life I have in Jesus and that I am a child of God!
As I grew in my faith with Jesus, there’s one thing I realised.
There’s a type of beauty that goes beyond our age, diets and the clothes we wear. It’s the type of beauty that I only see in some women.
They’re beautiful because of who they are inside, and their relationship with the true loving God.
They are not people who are self-seeking, and they are quiet in spirit. They seek the interests of others, they’re encouraging and they’re very godly people.
Most importantly, they know their identity and purpose in life, and they fear God. This is the kind of beauty that I hope, and I want to grow into.
So, is it wrong to love beauty or beautiful things?
I battled with this question for a long time. But the more I studied the Bible, the more I realised that God appreciates beauty.
If you look around you, God is a very beautiful God to have created a world that is so beautiful.
When I look at the details of all the flowers and all the little things, I’m often amazed at the God who we worship. He is so creative, and He cares about all the little details in life.
God wants us to live a life that is attractive, but in a way that brings people to Him and gives Him glory.
But we can sometimes get distracted in many ways. We start worshipping creation instead of the Creator, who is God Himself.
God wants us to live a life that is attractive, but in a way that brings people to Him and gives Him glory. It’s not wrong to love beauty or beautiful things, but it is wrong when we start to worship them instead of our Creator.
So, on that note, here are three suggestions to help you identify if you’re obsessed with beauty.
ACID TESTS FOR AN ADDICTION
First red flag: if your emotions go up and down depending on whatever you are obsessed with.
As I’ve shared, my whole happiness was found on the scale in the past. When my weight went up by a certain amount, I would be very depressed. When it went down, I would be very happy.
Second, does that thing lessen your appetite for God? Does it draw your attention away from God? Is it occupying all your mind, energy, time and money?
When I was obsessed with beauty, I couldn’t sleep at night. I would be thinking, “I should have bought that dress; I should have got those shoes; what should I wear the next day?”
My mind was wrapped around how I should look.
Third, if your obsession negatively affects the people around you.
My husband is the number one person who can tell me whenever I’m obsessed with my physical beauty. He would say, “You have changed to a very ugly person.”
Take a moment to think some of these questions through:
- Does your obsession make you even more self-centred?
- Is it something you want to hide from or lie to others about?
- Does the thing you enjoy honour God?
- Does it honour the people around you?
- Do you bring blessings to the people around you in whatever you enjoy?
- Or is it dishonouring God and negatively affecting the people around you?
Our obsession with earthly beauty steals our true, godly beauty.
Not only that, it prevents us from building our godly beauty, because they’re fighting each other.
For those of us who are more concerned with beauty, Satan tries everything that he can to use it and go against God’s plan in our lives.
There is a void in our hearts that only God can fill, and though we find many counterfeits in our lives to fill it, God is the only one who can do so, truly and completely.
I want you to remember this every time you look in the mirror. When you think you’re not pretty or good enough, or when you think “I can’t do this anymore” – imagine a crown and put it on your head.
You are a princess of the Most High King.
That’s because true beauty comes from knowing who you are in Christ. And you are a princess of the king of kings, God Almighty.
- Describe yourself in three words.
- Is that how the world sees you?
- Read Psalm 139. Knowing this is how God sees you, how might you live your life differently?