I’m Not _____ Enough
I’m Not Attractive Enough
September 23, 2012
Given the chance, we would all change something about our appearance. Our obsession with beauty and attraction is the reason for the creation and success of entire industries. But what if attractive isn’t attractive enough? What makes someone beautiful?
In this message, Pastor Ed Young takes a look at what God has to say about beauty. And we discover that true beauty isn’t the fixation on our faces or concern over our clothing; it is all about how passionately we pursue the one who created beauty.
Well I’m ready to talk about I’m Not <blank> Enough. I’m not <blank> enough. I want to ask you a question. What is the one thing you would change about your appearance if you could? What is that one thing that really bothers you about the way you look? You got it? Now turn to your neighbor and find something on them that kinda bothers you. And talk about that, just for a second.
I’ve been talking about vulnerability, because we’re only as sick as our secrets. When I’m vulnerable I’m valuable. When I understand that I’m thinking about things and you’re thinking about things, and if we share the things we’re thinking about, we’re thinking about the same things. There’s power in sharing secrets. There’s power in sharing those things that really bother us. We think, oh if I share how inadequate I feel, if I share what I don’t like about myself physically then I will be disconnected. I would argue just the opposite. True connectivity happens when you’ve got vulnerability. What’s that one thing that bothers you about you?
Illus: I remember when I was little. I have a mole in the middle of my head. You can barely even see it any more. It used to bother me. The mole. Then my ears. You know one of my ears looks very much like a Vulcan. And I used to think people would look and go, “Look at Mr. Vulcan Ears, Ed Young!” You know, what? I think people think about me more than they do. I think you do too. Isn’t that funny about us? Oh yeah, they’re thinking about…. No they’re not! Very few people can think about you that much because we’re so self-centered we’ve gotta start thinking about ourselves very, very rapidly. But it is kinda funny.
Ok, what is something I don’t like about myself? Well, you know, I have different things I don’t like about myself. I wish my arms were more muscular. You know, I have some deforestation in my hair. What’s so weird is now hair is growing in places that I wish it wouldn’t grow, like my nose and ears but that’s a whole nother subject.
Some people, though, are different. Some people here have a big front porch, others have a deck out back. There are some men and women here that have some hail damage. There are some guys that have a lot of room upstairs for rent here in the house, I can tell you that.
T.S. Basically here’s what we say. We have this punishing loop going on over and over in our minds. We say basically, I’m talking about it’s at the top of our playlist, we say this and rehearse this over and over again. Don’t act like you don’t say it, because you do. And it’s very damaging when we say these things. We say these things to ourselves. I’m not attractive enough. I’m not attractive enough. Say it with me. I’m not attractive enough. At our locations in Miami, Downtown Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano, online, 1-2-3… I’m not attractive enough. We say that so much. We’re always comparing ourselves with others.
Do you remember back in the day you could go to a state fair or maybe some carnival and you could look at yourself in those mirrors? You’ve seen the houses of mirrors that reflect back to you a distorted view of who you are. It’s kinda strange.
What if, just for a second, what if those mirrors were installed in your home when you grew up? What if those were the only mirrors that you used or I used when growing up? Well, if that was the case then we would come to the only conclusion that we could come to, that we’re distorted… that we’re whack… that we’re like, wow, something’s strange about me. I would argue that a lot of us in growing up as we looked into the eyes of others, maybe a coach, maybe a teacher, maybe a parent, maybe friends, we saw reflected back distorted images of who we are. And we have carried those images around with us. We’re like OK, I guess that’s the way we look. Well today we’ve gone really high tech. You can download these apps and these apps can totally tweak and change your face and your body so we now, with our smart phones, carry around the potential of having weird looking features when we take pictures of our selves or others as we use the various filters. But a lot of us are carrying around weird, distorted images of what we look like.
Back in the day fat was where it’s at. If you were fat if you were round, man you were hip! You were there! Today thin is in. It’s crazy, though, to think about how many negative thoughts we have about our appearance.
“Glamour Magazine” did a recent survey and I thought it was pretty interesting. Not that I read Glamour Magazine a lot but, “According to a new exclusive Glamour survey of more than 300 women of all sizes, research found that on average women have 13… 13 negative body thoughts daily, nearly one for every waking hour. And a disturbing number of women confessed to having 35, 50, or even 100 hateful thoughts about their own shape each day.”
As I studied further I found that research reveals also that 94% of men have a negative thought about their appearance every day. Yet we compare and contrast ourselves with other people. Man, I wish I had that look. I wish I was darker or lighter. I wish I was more muscular. I wish I was taller. Whatever the list is, we seem to be obsessed with that.
God says, that’s right, God says that we’re beautiful. God says that we’re attractive. We say, “I’m not attractive enough,” and God says, “You’re beautiful!” Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it? It really is. When God looks at you and me he sees beauty. Why can I say that? I say it because the Bible says it.
The Bible says we are made in the image of God. I want you to notice something. I want you to download this very, very quickly. I am created by God. Say that. I am created by God. Everybody at all locations, say it. I am created by God. God’s a genius, a creative genius. If you want to talk about vulnerability, God created you and me and here’s the deal. He gave us a freedom of choice. We’re not robots. He could have said, “OK, I’m gonna make that lady love me with all of her heart. I’m gonna make that guy right there love me with everything.” God did not do that. God put the cards on the table, he rolled the dice, so to speak, he made us in his image yet we have a freedom of choice. God created you and he created me.
Let’s see what it says in Genesis 1:26-27. “Then God said, ‘Let us…’” That’s odd. Us? I though God was one. He is one but also us. Us, one. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. The Trinity. Three in one. One in three. No one can grasp it with their finite. None of us can understand it with our pea-brains. We’re made in the image of God. You’re a trinity and I’m a trinity. So turn to your neighbor and say, “You Trinity, you!” because we’re body, soul, and spirit. We’re made in the image of God. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. Three in one, one in three. What are we? Body, soul, and spirit. Three in one, one in three. “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.”
See, God makes it very, very simple. If you know the Hebrew, the Hebrew is the language of rhythm. <rap/bass sounds> And he’s making the animals and he’s creating <rap/bass sounds>. But once he makes man everything stops. Tsssshhhh. Man is different. We’re different from the animals.
As Lisa and I wrote in our book, The Sexperiment, we’ve animalized humans and humanized animals. We’re not animals! We’re not spawning salmon, we’re not dogs in heat! We’re made in the image of our great God. We’re different. When God made everything else he said, “It’s good.” But when he made you and me, specifically read in verse 31, he said, “It’s very good.” He said, “Let’s make man in our image, in our likeness. Let them rule over the fish of the sea, birds of the air, livestock, over the creatures that move along the ground…” Look at verse 27. “So God created man in his own image. In the image of God he created him, male and female, he created them.”
You’ve got to love God’s vulnerability! I mean, think about it. Body, soul, spirit. We’re trinity. Body is the world beneath us. The soul is the world around us. The spirit is the world above us. We’re Trinitarians. So whenever I make fun of someone’s physical appearance how do you think God feels? Every single person here is a work of art.
All right, what’s that #1 thing about your appearance that you don’t like. Don’t blurt it out, think about it. Right now. Just thank God for it. To yourself just say, “God, I thank you for….” Wow. Because obviously when God fashioned you and me he made us look the way we look and act the way we act and laugh the way we laugh for a certain reason. Let’s just thank God for it. It might be hard to, difficult to, but just thank God for it. Lord, I thank you.
Now that doesn’t mean we should go, “OK it doesn’t matter the way we look. Who cares?” Some people will just mail it in. Some people will just wear burlap sacks. It doesn’t matter. Well the Bible says that we’re temples of the Holy Spirit of God. Don’t trash the temple. It doesn’t mean we obsess over it, but it doesn’t mean either that we just go, “Who gives a flyin’ flip? It doesn’t really matter. Let’s just keep it real.” No, no. That’s not Biblical either.
So on one hand we have to understand that beauty is only skin deep. That’s so true. Ugliness, though, is bad to the b-b-b-b-bone. But beauty is only skin deep. And I know people and you probably do, too, who are beautifully unattractive.
“Oh man, that guy, he looks like a male model! That girl, whoa!” but once you get to know them it’s like, aaaahh! U-G-L-Y, you ain’t got no alibi! You’re rat-faced UGLY! They might have the six-pack, they might have the chiseled features, the incredible figure, the look, the great skin, but beauty is only skin deep. That is a fact. Real beauty, we’re gonna find out and I know you’ve heard this before. You’re like, “Yeah, I heard this before. It comes from the inside, out.” You’re like, “Oh that’s sounds great, Ed, but I don’t like my stomach. I don’t like my thighs. Or I don’t like my thinning hair. I mean it sounds good but if I looked like so-and-so I wouldn’t have the problems that I have today.” That’s not true.
I’ve done sort of an informal straw poll over the past and I’ve talked to people that we would consider beautiful. And guess what? They’re as jacked up as other people who look just normal. Beauty is deeper than just this external thing that our culture crams down our throat. It’s more than that. That’s why we’ve gotta realize every day. Whoa, I’m created by God. And for me to make fun of someone’s appearance, I’m making fun of the artwork of God. Come on. How does God feel? What does that make you feel like? And when I’ve done that. I mean, come on, Ed, what are you trying to do? And really, who are we to judge, let’s be honest, if someone is attractive enough. Who am I? Who are you? It’s kinda funny.
Psalm 139. This is a classic text. Before I read Psalm 139:13-15 out of The Message (I love The Message, it’s a great, great translation) I want to tell you a sea turtle story.
Illus: I see a lot of sea turtles in the shallows because I spend a lot of time on the ocean. Sea turtles are beautiful creatures. They’re really fast, I like them, I love the turtle. Sea turtles crawl up in the sand, lay eggs, and we see all these cool nature shows where the little baby turtles are making their way to the surf and oh it’s so cute! Several years ago Lisa and I were vacationing in an area and we walked out and we looked and we saw these fences along the beach with these ginormous warning signs. “WARNING! SEA TURTLE EGGS!”
And they’re like if you step into this area you’ll be arrested and fined a billion dollars. This crazy stuff! A friend of mine recently told me that he stayed at one of these beaches in a hotel and he had to close his curtains at night because it was forbidden, against the law, to open your windows with the lights on because you don’t want to hurt the mating and the hatching patterns of the sea turtles. I’m all for protecting animals, I love animals as you know. Since Roe vs. Wade we’ve taken the lives of 60 million developing babies and we’re worried about sea turtle eggs??? I’m fearfully and wonderfully made. I’m created by the God of the universe in the image of God! Animals aren’t! They’re not! We’re not animals. I love them but we’re not animals.
Psalm 139:13-15, “Oh yes,” the psalmist writes, “you shape me first inside then out. You formed me in my mother’s womb.”
“Well, I wasn’t planned.” Are you kidding me? Every single person was and is planned. God don’t make no junk, that’s how we say it in the dirty south. You’re not an accident, you’re one of a kind! If you weren’t you there’d be a hole in history, a gap in God’s creativity.
“You formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God, you’re breathtaking body and soul. I’m marvelously made. I worship in adoration. What a creation. You know me inside and out. You know every bone in my body. You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit. How I was sculpted from nothing into something.”
Twenty-three chromosomes from your dad, 23 from your mom. Your parents cranking out another you mathematically speaking would be, are you ready for this? One in the 10 to the 2 billionth power. So give yourselves a round of applause for your uniqueness. Oh we can do better than that! Come on, everybody. I’m unique! So are you! So God says I need to fill in the blank for you. I’m not attractive enough? You’ll never be attractive enough. I’m created by God.
Also, I’m celebrated by God. I’m celebrated by God. You remember that song, “Celebrate good times, come on!” You ever heard that song before? That’s old school. You know the guy who wrote that song, Sir Earl, goes to our church. Kool and the Gang. Let’s give a big clap for Kool and the Gang! That’s pretty cool! I don’t wanna name drop but let’s do. A Kool and the Gang member goes to Fellowship Church. “Celebrate good times… huh-huh!”
Ephesians 1:4, “Long before he laid down the earth’s foundations he had us in mind. He would settle on us as the focus of his love to be made whole and holy by his love.”
We’re the focus of God’s love. Love has to have an object. Lisa is the object of my love. I chose, I committed myself to her 30 years ago. Love has to have an object. I’m the object of God’s love! Think about that! I’m attractive, I’m beautiful, I’m the object of God’s love. So I should walk with swagger. But see the enemy is a swagger-jacker. He wants to steal our swagger. He wants to say, “Oh you’re not dark enough. You’re not light enough. You’re not muscular enough. You’re not curvy enough. You’re not whatever enough. You’re not attractive enough.” And we have this on a punishing loop in our mind. Don’t converse with the enemy. Realize that you’re created by God, you’re celebrated by God.
Here’s what’s so amazing about this. On one hand God has stamped on our soul beauty and attractiveness. On the other hand because of our sinfulness (we have this sinetic condition, right?) we’re unattractive. God commissioned Christ to live this righteous life, to die an unattractive death, to rise again. Thereby giving us an opportunity to trade our unattractiveness, our sinfulness, our shortcomings, our insecurities to him. He gives us his beauty, his righteousness, his forgiveness. So when God fills the blank in we can say, “My attractiveness isn’t attractive enough but God is God enough.” So when God sees you and sees me he sees someone who is beautiful. God is saying, “You are so beautiful to me.” Yet we have the option to do what we want to with God. It’s the vulnerability of God. I’m created. Man that’s a good theme to memorize. Man, I’m celebrated. Whoa!
Also, I’m completed by God. I’m complete in Christ. In this series we’ve been talking about good isn’t good enough. In this series we’ve been talking about I’m not smart enough. Good isn’t good enough. Smart isn’t smart enough. But God is God enough. If we’re in Christ, if we’ve received him we’re complete, I’m complete in Christ. Jesus completed the incomplete. So really all I’ve gotta do is tap into the wisdom, tap into the goodness, tap into the purity, tap into the purity, tap into the righteousness, tap into the beauty that’s already there. I’m a saint. I’m a member of God’s family, and the resources of Christ are on tap 24/7.
I access them by faith and as I walk with him. I’m not gonna find it walking in the house of mirrors. I’m not gonna find it in a maze of mirrors. I’m not gonna find it looking to people who reflect back to me distorted images of who I am. The only time I’m gonna see myself in the right fashion is when I look into the eyes of Jesus. Because reflected back is Jesus. Reflected back he’s saying, “You’re created. I created you. I’m celebrating you. And I have completed you. You’re forgivable, you’re valuable, you’re usable, you’re one of a kind!” That is a pristine self esteem.
Really, self esteem, here’s the problem with self esteem: Self. People say, “Oh, I’m insecure.” Oh, I’m always insecure if I look inside of me. If I look into me, away from God, I am totally messed up. Insecure. People who are insecure are as prideful as those people who are ostentatious and in your face. I will say it again. People, you missed that, who are insecure, who are they thinking about? Me-me-me-me-me-me-me-me-me-me-me-me-me! It’s about me-me-me-me-me-me-me-me! Me! Also, the person who’s ostentatious is like, Yeah, I’m the man! I’m the girl! Ostentatious as well. They’re insecure? They’re insecure. You’ll sign up for insecurity, I have before, trying to impress others.
That’s why you’ve got to get out of the house of mirrors and revolve yourself around the house of God. Because God gives us the primary props. I see myself the way God sees me, nothing more, nothing less. That’s an awesome self esteem, a God-self esteem. The people in my life who are closest to me, they reinforce that by giving me the secondary props that point me to the Lord. And I love that. I do.
Colossians 2:10. Complete. Total package. “You also are complete,” the Bible says, “through your union with Christ.” So I’m created, celebrated, completed.
I’m clothed in Christ. I can make this fashion statement in him. Who are you wearing? What are you wearing? Well the Bible tells me, Isaiah 61:10, “I will sing for joy in God, explode in praise from deep in my soul. He dressed me in a suit of salvation.”
Illus: I was in London speaking several weeks ago. And I walked down this street called Savile Row, where you have the best tailors in the world. Some of the suits there cost 10, 20, 30 thousand dollars! And Lisa and I met a lady who is sort of the understudy for one of the top tailors in the world. She told us how she made clothes for all these royalty, and these multi-squillionaires, and these celebrities and on and on, the fit and all of this. And I’m thinking that is just crazy! Unbelievable! But see the suit, the outfit that the Lord puts on you and me, once we make this transaction, makes that stuff look like filthy rags.
He dressed me, God, up in a suit of salvation that would shame Savile Row. “He outfitted me in a robe of righteousness…” What does that mean? I will tell you in a second. “…as a bridegroom who puts on a tuxedo and a bride a jeweled tiara.”
I’m basically stitched with sin, ripped in rebellion. I could present this to God. I’m vulnerable. “God, here’s my unattractiveness.” The moment I become a follower of Christ what happens? The great exchange. I throw that down, he’s taken it and he gives me a tailor-made suit. Jesus was and is totally righteous. Totally righteous. He was tested and tempted in ways we will never be tested and tempted. So when God sees you and me, if we’ve appropriated this, he sees the righteousness of Christ. We’re clothed in righteousness.
T.S. Let me to a quick sidebar before I go somewhere else. You might be going, “OK, Ed. This sounds great. I understand that I’m attractive because of Jesus. I understand I’m made in the image of God, I understand this. That if I come to a point where I’m vulnerable enough to say I’m a sinner, I give you this unattractiveness that God will give me his beauty, his attractiveness, and I’m created. I’m celebrated, I’m complete and I’m clothed. That sounds good but, Ed, I got skin on, man. I still struggle with the self esteem. Everywhere I look. In the social media I’m always comparing and that’s just the way it is. What do I do?”
Let me give you some quick, quick apps right quick. what do you do? This is just for body image stuff that we all deal with because remember, we’re still in the flesh.
#1- Flip the script. Flip the script. You can build, by God’s grace, neurological transmitters and tracks in your brain that you say and meditate on daily, “I’m created by God. I’m one of a kind. I’m valuable. I’m lovable.” So you say that and meditate on that. The word meditation is a picture of a cow chewing cud. <mooo!> That’s what we do.
Also, work out! Exercise. Have you ever noticed how many times Jesus walked? I’ve been to Israel several times. You would not believe the distances that he walked in one day! Work out! Work out. Not for vanity but for value! Don’t trash the temple, the dwelling place of God. You feel better when you work out regularly. I’m not talking about to go overboard, I’m talking about your endorphins and just the way you feel and the way God has made you and me.
Stop negative conversations in your mind when the enemy begins to play that song. I know it’s on your playlist, it’s on mine. I’m not attractive enough. I’m not attractive enough. I’m not attractive enough. <boom-booga-boo>.. STOP! STOP! Just say, “Hey, devil, talk to God about it.” He doesn’t want to talk to God about it because when he talks to God about it God’s gonna say, “That’s my boy! That’s my girl! They’re beautiful because they have Christ in them!” These are just some quick apps.
Another would be play to your strengths. Play to your strengths. Think about your appearance. What are your strengths? Everybody has some strengths, man, everybody. God has given us everything for a reason. Play to your strengths. I can say, “Man, my arms are skinny. I wish they were more muscular.” But think about my arms. With these arms I can hug my wife. I can extend a hand. I can place my hand on people’s head and pray for them. I can do so many things with these arms, skinny arms! OK, they’re skinny but look what they can do! You’re flippin’ the script. Some quick application.
Still others here have never, ever, ever. I know you are. You’re here, you’re in Midtown Miami, you just showed up today. You’re in South Miami. You’re in Dallas. You’re in Plano. You’re in Fort Worth. You’re watching online. You have come here today in different ways, shapes and forms. God is not in your blank. You’ve been trying to fill your blank with this, with that, with all these things. You’ve never, though, ever given your life to the Lord. See the exchange is absolutely stunning! You can exchange your unattractiveness (because we’re all sinners) for God’s attractiveness. You can trade your stumbling and fumblings for his beauty if you’ll just say, “Jesus, come into my life.” Because beauty is from the internal to the external, not the external to the internal. Have you made that decision? You’ll never, ever, ever discover the greatness and the joy and the purpose and the plan until you make that decision. You’ll continue to move around in the maze of mirrors with these distorted images but it’s time that you look into the eyes of Jesus. Because Jesus will tell you that you’re beautiful. You’re valuable. You’re forgivable. You’re one of a kind. You’re attractive. You are so beautiful to me. And when we understand that, that’s when we’re free.
[Ed leads in closing prayer.]