I was reading an article in one of the Sunday supplements where, as part of a regular feature, different people (usually famous), are asked to write about what they see when they look in the mirror. This week it was the turn of Katie Price, aka ‘Jordan’, the celebrity famous amongst other things, for her surgically enhanced breasts and tabloid modelling career.
Here’s what she says:
‘I recognise that I am getting older but I don’t hate what I see because that’s me. I have had the odd Botox and I’ve tried fillers, which I didn’t like. When I had my boobs done in America, they did them wrong, and I don’t know what they put in my lips. I would advise people never to have anything permanent in their face. I haven’t had a full 100% nose job – they shaved the bone, they didn’t break my nose..
I am happy with the way I am, I am a happy person – how can I not be?’
It’s easy to criticise someone like Katie whose life is lived through and to some extent, for, media attention. Actually I think there’s quite a bit about her to admire – she’s ambitious, intelligent and loves her family. Yet as these words attest, she also seems desperately unhappy with who she is and how she looks, despite her claims to the contrary. You don’t spend thousands of pounds on surgery if you’re ok with who you are, right?
But then, how many of us can say that when we look in the mirror, we’re happy with what we see either?
Most women I know have at least one part of their body that they’d like to change. And I wonder if the desire to look better is just as strong in the Christian women as it is in the non-Christians. Which should be shocking.
What do I mean? Well, please don’t mishear me. Unbeliever does not equate to shallow. Far from it. Most women (regardless of faith) recognise that what’s inside matters more than our appearance. To my shame, I know many non-Christian women and men who are far more other-centered and altruistic than me.
But trusting Jesus means more than a subtle shift of focus. It’s a complete change of direction, a radical reordering of values and concerns and identity. And it’s His supernatural work that changes me, not my efforts or desire to be better or nicer. Knowing Jesus is what makes the difference – and according to the Bible, this is why there are so many lovely lovely people who aren’t going to heaven. If it was about natural goodness, I wouldn’t have a hope.
Being a Christian means having a life that revolves around Christ and worshipping only Him. So for example, the Bible tells me that I can’t serve both God and money. Luckily, that’s not a problem. It’s not as if I need to dump the Swiss bank accounts, right? Surely this verse can be as easily dismissed as the idea of my rolling in a bathtub filled with bank notes? Or weighing up my bullion (is that the right spelling? I mean gold rather than chicken stock).
Perhaps not. Quite aside from the fact that relatively speaking, I’m in a very small percentage of wealthy people with access to fresh running water, sanitation, food, clothes and Taste The Difference Hummus, there’s a bigger issue at stake than simply the object of our affections. Scripture knows my heart. It knows my flesh, an ‘idol-seeking missile’, hungry to worship anything but the Living God. But there’s only room in my heart for one Master. Only one Person worthy of such glory. Whether it’s with money or food or body image or work or family – this Lordship cannot be shared. I know this. But sometimes, left to my own devices, I start to question why it is I can’t have both.
So I might read that ‘beauty is fleeting and charm deceptive, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised’. And, (after an lie-down and some cold compresses) I concede, Yep, got it. Jesus first. Nothing else. Imagine focusing on beauty and charm – ha, that’d be ridiculous. Except ..it is important to look good, just y’know in cultural terms. For evangelistic purposes, even.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not obsessed with my appearance or anything – not like whatserface, Jordan. For starters I can’t afford the surgery she’s had – er, not that I would. But I’m not averse to the odd pair of spanx. A couple of blow-drys and some of those nifty age-defying serums. Just, you know, essential maintenance work. This is Eastbourne, after all. And Jesus would want me to look good, right?
I’m not suggesting we rug up in bin-bags and stop washing or getting our hair cut. Many of these things are good gifts from God, to be enjoyed. And wanting to look nice is not a sin. But is it my priority? Is this what makes my life work? Or am I actually letting my wants become needs …and squeezing Jesus out to make more room for the really important stuff?