“And your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through the splendor that I had bestowed on you, declares the Lord God. But you trusted in your beauty and played the whore because of your renown and lavished your whorings on any passerby; your beauty became his.” –Ezekiel 16:14-15
In general, there are two ways in which a girl’s insecurity will play out. One, she will be shy, she will hide her body, and she will silently hate certain parts of herself, her physical features, her personality, etc. The second way in which her insecurities will play out is that she will do the exact opposite–rather than hide herself, she will overexpose herself, either by dressing immodestly, or being overly flirtatious.
Now one might think that the second behavior is just the opposite of insecurity. If anything, it would seem to emit confidence, not doubt or fear. But on the contrary, this second behavior stems from the exact same source as the first–a lack of trust in God. Rather than trusting in God for value and worth, these girls trust in their beauty.
Before I explain exactly what I mean by the phrase “trust in your beauty,” let me back up for a moment and explain what the above Scripture has to do with the topic of insecurity. When you read it, you probably thought it was a little out there, if not a little harsh. Well, to give you the context for it, the whole of chapter 16 in Ezekiel describes God’s faithfulness to Israel, and Israel’s subsequent unfaithfulness to God. Israel was alone and naked, but God clothed her and made a covenant commitment to her, enrobing her in precious garmens and jewels, cleaning her off so that she was as pure as snow, and making her His. Unfortunately, Israel repaid God by taking those gifts of grace and using them for her own selfish ends. Rather than remembering God’s faithfulness and worshipping Him for it, Israel began to trust in the gift, rather than the Giver. Israel turned those gifts into idols to be worshipped, served, and used to gain glory for herself, rather than God.
Not only is this passage extremely challenging to Christians, since everything God does for Israel is exactly what He does for us, but I find the specific imagery of chapter 16 to be particularly challenging for women. Oftentimes we as women feel tarnished by life, taken advantage of by the people in our lives, worn and ragged and alone. But God chooses us for Himself. He picks us up, cleans us of our dirty past, clothes us in beautiful robes and makes us into precious princesses. He makes us feel desirable and adored. He makes us feel beautiful.
But just like Israel, we begin to trust in our beauty, rather than the God who made us beautiful. And this brings us back to my original point. Almost every woman, at some time or another, is going to trust in her beauty, rather than trusting in God. Now we typically think only those women who are extremely flirtatious or exhibitionist struggle with it, but the temptation is there for all of us. Just because you don’t think you’re a super model doesn’t mean you are innocent of trusting in your beauty.
For some of you, the act of trusting in your own beauty will not display itself until a guy starts to show you attention, perhaps only flirting with you or showing you attention, or perhaps pursuing you in a dating relationship. But no matter the circumstances, there generally comes a point at which every woman is tempted to trust in a guy’s attraction to you, rather than God’s perfect timing for you. There is something exciting and even intoxicating about having a guy show you attention, so rather than sideline that feeling in favor of seeking God’s will and trusting in Him for affirmation, we run with it. We love the fact that a guy finds us attractive, even if his attraction is based on superficial things, so we rely on that feeling to satisfy us. And it is in that moment that we are trusting in our beauty, rather than God.
In this way, we must not deceive ourselves into believing that just because we don’t think of ourselves as “beautiful” doesn’t mean we won’t be tempted to trust in our beauty. In chapter 16 of Ezekiel, beauty is defined as that element that attracts others to Israel and brings glory to herself, so for us, beauty can be thought of as any element of ourselves that attracts people to us. And while beauty can be a very good thing since God is the one who makes us beautiful, we must ask how we are using our beauty. Are we attracting guys for our own selfish ends so that we can boost our own self-confidence, or are we using our beauty for the sake of glorifying God? That is indeed a convicting question for me.