Gain heart focus by praying Scripture out loud:
Lord, here I am, a piece of weak flesh. But I can’t afford to fight as if I’m made of flesh. I need weapons that have divine power to destroy any barrier between us. Please give me Your Word to destroy arguments in my mind against You and to take down every lofty opinion that raises itself above the knowledge of You. Take every thought in my mind captive to You. I don’t wrestle with flesh and blood, but against the devil—against cosmic powers and spiritual forces of evil. I need Your full armor. Put on me truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, and salvation. Help me to stand strong today. Above all, give me the sword of the Spirit, which is Your Word. Help me to pray in the Spirit with all kinds of prayer. I want to proclaim the mystery of a relationship with You. I want to be Your ambassador. I want to speak boldly. Help me. (Adapted from 2 Corinthians 10:3–5; Ephesians 6:12–20)
“By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.… For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.”
Psalm 33:6, 9
The Maiden in Song of Songs had serious body image issues. She grumbled, “I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys” (Song of Songs 2:1).
In their ancient culture, these two flowers were considered ordinary and mundane, even bothersome. Sharon was a plain near Israel, and both of the flowers referenced grew there like weeds. If she lived in North America today, the Maiden might say: “I’m a dandelion.”
Solomon’s answer strikes me as peculiar: “Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the maidens” (Song of Songs 2:2, NIV). In other words, “If you are a simple dandelion, then you’re a dandelion between two burrs.” What?! Is that supposed to be a compliment?
I guess we’d better look a little closer to see what he was really saying, because it has little to do with her appearance. Bible scholars believe that key to this conversation is the fact that lilies of the valley and rose of Sharon are wildflowers. They are not cared for by man and tended in a vineyard. They are tended by God. They belong to Him. Solomon was acknowledging that the Maiden was cared for by God. And that truth is our primary weapon in this battle about beauty.
You see, I don’t think our struggle with beauty has much to do with us at all. I think it’s a fistfight between your Creator and His archnemesis. God has already established your worth by creating you. He personally chose everything about you. Your hair color. Your skin tone. Your height. The curve of your nose.
The fact that God created you is your worth. Like Solomon, He will not pander to your self-consciousness and self-focused obsessions. He might acknowledge them, but then He will redirect your attention to your true value—that you were created and can be tended to by Him.
The Maiden quickly embraced Solomon’s estimation of her beauty. How do we know? By chapter’s end we see her repeating over and over again that he had called her “my beautiful one.” In repeating his words, she is dwelling on them. And the fact is, what we dwell on becomes what we believe. (Dwelling on photos of anorexic models and thinking them beautiful will make you feel inadequate. Dwelling on the truth that God created you and loves you will make you feel confident.) As the Maiden dwells on Solomon’s words of acceptance, she comes into agreement with them.
Ever heard about the power of positive thinking? Turns out it’s all in your head…literally! Researchers call it the science of neuroplasticity. In words the rest of the world can understand, it’s the ability to rewire the neural pathways in our brains! By meditating on something long enough and often enough, we carve out new passages for our thoughts to travel. So don’t get discouraged if your mind keeps defaulting to an old rut for a while. Keep at it! Think new thoughts. Better thoughts. His thoughts. The process takes time, but eventually your heart will start to feel what your mind has come to know!
Today God speaks to us through the Bible as clearly as Solomon spoke to the Maiden. We experience His healing power in quoting Scripture over our broken vision of ourselves.
He wants you to believe the words He has spoken about you and to agree with them. Read the following verses out loud, and make note of each step of obedience you can take to come into agreement with God’s truth as His words cleanse and restore you.
Feeling average? His Word says you are made wonderfully.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
You can be cleansed and restored by praising Him for how He has created you.
Spending too much time in front of the mirror? His Word says that who you are inside deserves more attention than how you look outside.
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
1 Peter 3:3–4
You can be cleansed and restored by spending more time on grooming your heart than in obsessing over your hair and face!
Have a tendency to grab the short skirt or low-cut V neck? His Word says that our beauty is to be expressed modestly.
I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes.
1 Timothy 2:9, NLT
You can be cleansed and restored by buying reasonably priced clothing that does not show off your belly, boobs, or butt! (Watch out for those plunging necklines and skin-tight skinnies!)
Feeling overwhelmed by comparison to magazine covers? His Word says that a woman who fears the Lord is of greater worth than a supermodel!
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
You can be cleansed and restored by choosing to live up to God’s ideal of womanhood rather than the world’s. (Striving to achieve the world’s ideal reflects a fear of man.)
Of course, you can read those words all day long, but unless you express belief by taking action on what they say, they will never cleanse and restore you. You can’t break free from whatever beauty lies hold you captive unless you come into agreement with His words. Are you willing to do that?
In addition to lies about our beauty, the enemy wants to keep us captive to lies about the past. But here again the words of God bring healing.
Let’s back up a tad in the story of Solomon and the Maiden. (By now you’ve noticed that I like this story and we’ll be digging into it now and then.) As the love song begins, we find her basically saying in Song of Songs 1:6: “Don’t look at me!” You might think that this too is about her beauty, but it’s not. While she’s commenting on her skin darkened by the sun, what’s really going on is shame concerning her past. We don’t know why, but her brothers had assigned her the job of caring for the sheep. Such field work was normally reserved for men because it required physical strength to drive away thieves and wild boars. The job was inappropriate for a woman who was valued and treasured, because she’d become muscular and strong. Jillian Michaels strong. And back then, they liked their women tender, not tough.
Solomon wastes no time in embracing her strength as an asset. He says, “I compare you, my love, to a mare among Pharaoh’s chariots” (Song of Songs 1:9). Horses are not weak. They are strong. And wild. And beautiful. Solomon is saying that what she perceives as a blot on her worth he sees as another dimension of her beauty. He is actually attracted by her incredible strength!
God spoke a similar truth to me through 2 Corinthians 1:3–4, which says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” I read that and realized my past didn’t disable me in helping others; instead, the healing process I’d experienced filled me with an abundance of God’s comfort to pour out on others. Through His words, God changed the value of my past.
Here’s the point: our Savior can turn any deficit into a strength through the power of His words if we will only follow hard after Him by agreeing with them and obeying them.
What in your past has permanently marked you as not having been properly cared for—whether by yourself or others?
Whatever wounds you carry, you are not alone. Whether it’s sexual sin that mars your heart or a bad family situation or anything else, God’s words can heal you.
Here are some samples of what God’s Word says about your past. Read them and let His truth silence any recurring, untruthful, or ugly thoughts in relation to your past.
Thinking your past disqualifies you from future ministry? His Word says that you should forget your past in light of the future.
I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal.
You can let God’s words cleanse and restore you by deciding to stop hiding in the past and move into the future ministry He has for you.
Stuck in misery over your sin or those sins committed against you? His Word says that we should not remember or meditate on the past because it prohibits us from being aware of the new things He is doing in our lives.
Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way.
You can let Him cleanse and restore you by shifting your thoughts away from self-pity and discouragement about the past, and instead asking God to help you be aware of what new things He is doing in you.
Having a hard time believing you’re forgiven? His Word says that if you confess your sins, He forgives you.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9
You can let Him cleanse and restore you by confessing your sins to Him and asking for forgiveness.
Shamed by a secret you’ve never told anyone else? His Word says that we are healed from our past in community, by confessing to other believers.
Confess your sins one to another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
You can let Him cleanse and restore you by confessing your sins to an older, wiser woman in your church.
REPLACING LIES WITH GOD’S TRUTH
Today’s action step is to continue the work of following hard after God by coming into agreement with His words about you. To be healed and cleansed by His words, you must first be familiar with them. This requires you to feast on them, especially in areas where a specific lie rises up in your heart.
I don’t know what lies have entangled your heart. But you do. And it’s time to break free by replacing them with truth. Jesus said:
And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
Freedom doesn’t come through head knowledge but by letting the words of God seep so deeply into your soul that you intimately know them to be true. I invite you to step into the cleansing power of His words today.
Write Your Story
Plan to spend a little extra time with your journaling assignment today. I would like you to select a verse or two that specifically confronts any lies that keep you from the love of the Father.
First, take a few moments to write down any lies you believe about your beauty or your past. They’ll probably come to mind quickly, but if not, just meditate. Ask God’s Holy Spirit to reveal to you any areas in which He wants you to seek freedom from lies.
Next, identify at least one Bible verse that speaks truth to your heart. You can use an online search engine or a Bible concordance if nothing specific comes to mind right away.
Once you’ve identified the verses you need to feast upon, scribble them on a sticky note for your bathroom mirror, post them on your Facebook wall, or make a bookmark for your Bible. Put them where you can see them, memorize them, and use them any time the enemy attacks you with lies. I’ve got two Post-it notes on my mirror right now. I’ve got work to do, and so do you. Let’s get it done!
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 KJV
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Ephesians 6:12-20 KJV
By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.
Psalms 33:6 KJV
For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.
Psalms 33:9 KJV
I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
Psalms 139:14-16 KJV