What Mother Teresa Taught Me About Beauty

Hi! I’m Sarah.

I’m currently completing a Masters degree, travelling is my passion and I suffer from insecurities.1462893_10153061970953737_1001986927373111790_n

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t.  But it becomes an issue when it inhibits us from living our lives to the fullest – living the lives intended for us by God.

Being inhibited by insecurities is often frightening and upsetting.

I’ve felt so insecure I’ve not wanted to leave the house. I’ve brought myself to tears over thinking I don’t fit in and I’ve spent countless hours thinking I’m ugly and unattractive. Perhaps you can relate. And maybe you can’t, maybe your insecurities lie elsewhere but the message is the same.

You and I are made in the image and likeness of God. In His image.

I’ve known this was the case for as long as I can remember, but I never really understood what it meant for me, and what it means for us. If God is love, then we are made in the image and likeness of love. A love, that is unconditional in its purest sense.

Let me explain.

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa

I used to think that “when I had a boyfriend/husband”, I wouldn’t care so much about how I looked and I would stop wearing so much makeup to ‘cover up’ because I had a man loving me. What I failed to realise is that I already have much more than this. I have a God loving me unconditionally; loving us unconditionally, and with so much more love then any human is capable of imparting. I have a God that loves me even when I perceive my face as a mess, or when I believe I’m too ‘un-cool’ to fit in.

So already I don’t have to worry about impressing others with my looks and plethora of hilarious jokes, because I’m already impressing the most important person: Jesus. Impressing him simply by being his daughter and striving to live a life he’d be proud of. Sure, it would be great to look and be like Taylor Swift and her pose of friends 24/7 but this is unrealistic and un-healthy thinking.

It only creates a cave of misery (trust me, I’ve been there) to constantly want looks and abilities that you perceive as ‘better’ than your own perfectly suited gifts and talents.

One of the most beautiful women I ever met was a Sister of Charity (Mother Teresa’s Order) at an orphanage for the severely disabled in Romania. She did not wear makeup, her hair was hidden, for such a young face her hands were old. But not for a second did her beauty fail to impress me. She was beautiful and happy. Why? Because her eye’s shone with the love of Jesus – a life lived in his service.  When you shift the focus from your own physical attributes and other capabilities, and focus instead on using your gifts and talents to serve others, beauty becomes you. And in the same way the importance of looking good, fitting in, and ‘having it all’ reduces in significance.

In my experience, the happiest, most comfortable and at peace with myself I’ve even been is when I’ve forgotten myself. Forgotten myself in order to serve others, to be Christ’s presence to others.

It’s an everyday struggle to comprehend that I am a masterpiece of God’s and what this means for my life, but it’s one worth struggling for.

For, at the end of the day our bodies are merely a shell for the souls we develop. Further, those who are remembered are remembered not for how they looked, but for what they did.

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Practical steps I’ve found effective in loving myself as a creation of God;

  • Un-following those Instagram or Youtube accounts that only post selfies in their latest outfits and images of their Hollywood style ‘vacations’.
    • These are not bad, however too much of these in your newsfeed can influence how you think and feel about yourself.
  • Stop taking selfies / posting on social media so often
    • This is hard I know. But when you limit yourself on social media you a) stop comparing yourself with others and b) start living more in the moment, focusing on the amazing friends and experiences you’re privileged to have.
  • Limit the amount of energy you put towards ‘looks’ and ‘fitting-in’
    • Reduce or stop buying those new and on trend clothes, cup cake moulds, makeup and magazines etc – no one’s life was drastically lessened by not owning the latest Urban Decay eye shadow palette.
    • One way to assist with this is to have a friend hold you accountable – a burden shared is a burden halved. When you feel the urge to splurge text them (or your mum!) instead, telling them how great they are.