Opinion: Let’s reject the impossible standard of perfection

By Jaden Jennings, Contributing Writer

Sometimes when I am doing all of the right things, I still feel separated from God. Do you?

What I mean to say is that even when I am reading my Bible, having a regular quiet time, or even praying like I should, periodically I get this awful, wretched feeling that I am still not doing enough. Or even worse, I don’t look good enough.

Let me explain. Lately, the devil has been attacking me. I don’t mean to say that for you to pity me, but I am telling you in this article for transparency purposes. I want to be honest and upfront with all of you readers.

I know the old song and dance that I am made in the image of God, blah blah blah, but it seems as if every time I look in the mirror as of late, those scriptural truths are pushed to the side. I am just left standing there, my reflection and I competing in a silent battle.

Who will win? What I know to be true from Christ, or the distorted image I see in the mirror?

This has been a haunting nightmare of mine for quite some time. Attending a Christian University, you would think the opposite to be true, but unfortunately, that is not my story.

I know being involved with a dance team in college adds certain pressures to maintaining a specific build, but I have realized that this insecurity is much deeper than that. This issue I have has been buried deep inside for so long, that the more I have tried to contain it throughout my life, it has boiled over into self-doubt, perfectionism, and distorted body image.

I feel crazy while I am typing this, but here is my concern: I am not the only one. Millions of women (even men) Christian or not, absolutely hate the way they look, or what they do.

Without pointing fingers at a certain reason behind this statistic, we know as a generation there must be something wrong. As a God-following gal, I thought my prayers would cover this issue, but still to this day, they have not.

You would think that following God would contain the thoughts of self-loathing and inadequacy, but truth be told, this is a natural human problem. Christians are not immune.

The media today has whispered temporary satisfactions into our minds about body, weight, and image. These messages are delivered to us every day whether we know it or not. They actually are so close to us that it will fit right in our back pocket.

Now, I don’t believe that cellphones are inherently bad. I use it to keep in contact with family and friends back home. My phone is my flashlight, my calculator, and even my personal calendar. I couldn’t live without mine, but currently, I am conducting a social media detox with myself until I can be truly content with my own life.

I sound like a bit of a drama queen because I know many people around the world have it worse than I do. I realize that and I know it. However, our world has become so submerged in being perfect on our accounts that I catch myself wanting to be perfect as well.

This is a problem.

I want to serve those in need and help others, but when I see someone else that looks super cute in their missionary outfit in Uganda, I feel a surge of jealous rush through me.

This isn’t even just about the way you look. It is about the way you dress, what you post, and so much more. Yesterday a woman posted the cutest picture of her starting her ministry, and guess what? I was jealous!

Something I should never be jealous about was twisted into something I couldn’t control. I wanted to be happy for her, but this is the truth of reality.

However, my life doesn’t have to be this way, and neither does yours. I have realized something the older I get, when I know where my identity is, that is when I am the happiest.

No comparison, no remorse, just God and I living life to our fullest potential.

In the famous words of Teddy Roosevelt, “Comparison is the Thief of Joy,” and I would have to agree completely.

I want to talk to my Christian ladies out there, is the self-doubt bug eating you up? Do you feel a presence gnawing at you telling you aren’t good enough or you won’t ever amount to a single thing? If that is you, let’s fight this together.

No more pretending we have it all together just because we go to a Christian University. (And news flash, Jesus won’t look at our social media accounts for us to enter into the gates of heaven).

Let’s be raw and open with one another. Women supporting women and men supporting men. We are brother and sisters, and most importantly, we are allies.

Instead of fighting for perfectionism on our Instagram posts, let’s start fighting for one another before Jesus takes us home. Hand in hand, we can do this. Together,

 

Identity found in the Lord, not human image

By Jaden Jennings, Contributing Writer

For me personally, working out has always been a part of my daily routine.

As I was in the gym yesterday though, I had an epiphany. I thought to myself, “wait a minute; why am I doing all of this work to my body?”

I run to get skinny, I lift to look muscular, but when I die, is anyone really going to care how chiseled my abs and legs were?

I do not believe this random thought came from my own mind at Planet Fitness on a Tuesday; Rather, I believe it came from God himself.

Now don’t get me wrong before you continue reading. I believe with my whole heart that working out is important as well as eating healthy.

Nevertheless, I have realized during my journey as a Christian, I was claiming I was exercising for God, when in reality; I was selfishly doing it for the results.

Being toned? A plus, but not my identity.

Rock hard abs and arms? Good for winning a fight, but not necessarily for winning souls.

You probably think that I will never step foot in a gym again, but I am here to tell you that is completely, 100% false.

Our body is a temple for God, and I hope to maintain it to the best of my ability here on this earth.

However, my mindset when going to the gym will no longer be one of selfish desires and comparison, but more so, of an opportunity I have to honor God with my body.

Nevertheless, I did have a small thought that maybe my philosophy to working out could be applied to shopping as well.

Ugh, that hurts to say in the very depth of my soul, but still, remains true.

What if we spent less time focused on designer brands, and more on our hearts?

I love my Louis Viton handbag no doubt, but I have been thinking lately, what is the point of having it?

Did I want it for myself when I bought it?

Maybe so, but I have a hunch that I bought it because of the prestige that came with it.

This column is not discrediting shopping of course, because I am a firm believer in looking good to feel good.

However, our identity should not be about our bodies or the items that cover it, rather, it should be more concerned with spreading the gospel to the ends of the earth.

That’s what we are here for anyways right?

To be good stewards of hope and worship God. All the rest is just temporary.

If you are reading this column, I would encourage you the next time you go to the gym to change your mindset.

Look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself this body is just temporary, and I am working out for God because my soul is eternal.

Or in the dressing room, tell yourself that this article of clothing is just an accessory.

It doesn’t matter if it is from TJ Maxx or Versace. I will not rely on my clothes to define my worth.

If looks were important to Jesus, He would have been one good-looking man here on Earth.

Maybe He was, but the Bible describes His appearance as being common to man.

This alone should give us hope that attraction is not what God holds dear to His heart.

Instead, it is our actual hearts He evaluates.

Imagine what would happen if we exercised our hearts just as much as our bodies?

Or what if instead of buying new clothes every two months, we donated some of our old ones to those in need?

Or what if we stopped comparing ourselves to people on Instagram and started interacting with actual people?

God cares about our physical health and the way we feel when we look good, but you know what? I believe that it goes much farther than that.

I believe that Jesus loves us so much that He could care less about how skinny we are or how much money we spend.

I believe that He just wants us. Period.

We can run as much as we want, but if we do not have Him, we have nothing.

We can spend as much as we want on designer clothes, but if we do not have Him, we are just as empty as our bank accounts.

You see, if you are anything like me, this thought should set you free.

No longer will you have to be measuring up to an Instagram fitness model with an obtainable figure.

No longer will you be worried about the clothes you have on your back because you will know that brands don’t defi ne you.

You are loved just as you are.

No exceptions and no expectations; And that my friends, is a good feeling.