Sunday, September 28, 2014

I'm Janelle, And I'm Made In The Image of God

Last Friday, I had the opportunity to share a bit about my story during my University's chapel. Since beauty is a topic that I feel very passionate about, I decided to talk about the standard of beauty on my college campus:

"Humble. Meek. Kind. & Soft-spoken.

These are just a few of the words that come to mind as I reflect on how beauty has been defined to me in the context of American evangelical culture.

I wasn't raised in a typical Christian household, and I actually didn't become a Christian until my freshman year of high school. So naturally, growing up, my idea of beauty was largely influenced by the media, and more often than not, the girls in the magazines and on TV looked nothing like me.

From an early age, I struggled with insecurity and I was never content with the way that I looked. I felt like I was always lacking and never enough.

When I did become a Christian, I had this crazy idea that somehow all of my insecurities would just magically disappear. But, surprisingly enough, that was not the case.

And actually, those struggles further intensified. I attended predominantly white suburban churches, where there was a certain standard of beauty that was glorified and promoted, and again, I did NOT meet that standard. I found myself conflicted when most of the women who spoke to our youth group about beauty, were already beautiful themselves. As a Filipina-American woman, I didn't feel like I had anyone at church who I could confide in about my frustrations. I experienced firsthand the pain that came as a result of favoritism and partiality.

Coming to this campus was really not all that different from my church experiences. I strongly believe that a similar standard of beauty exists here as well. And whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, there are very real privileges that come with meeting that standard. And there is also a very real sense of pain and frustration that comes with FAILING to meet that standard.

I look at the standard of beauty on our campus and internal character traits aside, I wonder what sets it apart from a secular standard of beauty. Or have we become so infiltrated by society's standard of beauty that we hold to a nearly identical viewpoint?

Being beautiful does not have to mean being the acoustic guitar-playing, Toms-wearing, worship-leading, woman of God with a heart for Africa. Beauty can look a lot of different ways.

I've learned to aim for one standard, and one standard only, one in which Christ calls me to love and celebrate all parts of my being
a standard of grace, not perfection.

So yes, I'm called to be humble, but I'm also called to exude confidence because I know who I am in Christ.

And yes, I'm called to be meek, but I'm also called to speak up against injustice when I see it.

And as far being soft spoken, I've thrown that one out the window, because I've spent way too much of my life being silent, and my voice is a lot more valuable than I give it credit for.

I am a broken girl whose brokenness has been redeemed by a God who makes all things beautiful.

I'm Janelle, and I'm made in the image of God."


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