I have struggled with my self-image all my life. The Lord blessed me with legs so short that I purchase the short length of pants whenever available, then hem them. Recently I bought a pair of women's capri pants to wear as full length slacks. While there is some humor in the thought of that, I hardly feel like laughing on those days when I stand in front of the mirror to examine my appearance and can only focus on squatty thighs that seem to be begging for release from the bondage of my skinny jeans. Some days it literally makes me a little nauseous to gaze at an image that I feel does not measure up to my expectations, and certainly not to the world's definition of beauty.
My confession is a bit embarrassing to admit, but I share it because I believe many of you struggle some days just like me. We look at that girl in the gym whose picture-perfect body we are sure we can never have or the mom picking up her kids from school who always looks like she just stepped out of the salon, and we feel inadequate.
There were some Israelite women in the book of Exodus who I'm sure were a lot like us. Yes, they were living thousands of years ago in the arid desert after escaping an oppressed life in Egypt (not exactly a description of us today), but they were still women who wanted to feel beautiful. Exodus 38 tells us these women had a prized possession - mirrors that they had taken from Egypt.
But what these women chose to do with their mirrors is life changing.
Exodus 38:8 He made the laver of bronze and its base of bronze, from the bronze mirrors of the serving women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.
God had called His people to bring offerings to construct a tabernacle where they could meet and serve Him. These women chose to answer His call by surrendering the only tool they had in the desert with which they could examine their appearance. Instantly their attention turned from a pursuit to like what they saw in their mirror to a pursuit to serve God.
The verse says that the women "assembled." The Hebrew derivative of this words suggests much more than hanging out and talking with friends. In fact it's not social at all. This is a military word, used to mean "to wage war or to serve." These women meant business!
When I think about this word and these women, I think I know what they were doing at the tabernacle. I think they were praying…praying for their nation, their leaders, their husbands, their children, and for one another. They were waging war against the Devil by covering God's people in prayer.
Can I be this kind of woman? Can I put more energy into fighting for my family, my marriage, my country and my brothers and sisters in Christ than in fighting to measure up to an image of beauty that is fleeting and ultimately unsatisfying?
I will not be removing the mirrors from my house. I still want to know if I have a chin hair that needs to be plucked or broccoli that needs to be flossed from my teeth. However, when I am tempted to step on the scale for the seventh time today or spend fifteen minutes determining if my spanx are holding it all in, I pray God reminds me of these brave Israelite women in Exodus who were confident enough to trade in their pursuit of physical beauty for a lifestyle focused on purposefully serving the Lord in a way that makes an eternal difference.
Promise for today:
Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.