After a long day of school, work, and chores, the "Getting of the Mail" is an unspoken highlight of the day. (Although I think the ratio between advertisements and bills to actual "good mail" is oftentimes quite unsatisfactory.) Once or twice a month, however, my day is made by the arrival of a magazine. I love a good magazine. Glossy and inviting, relatable and engaging... sometimes it's nice to escape into its pages for a half-hour of innocent entertainment. Or is it so innocent?
Amid the helpful,creative topics such as "Setting a Pretty Table for Thanksgiving" and "Healthy Recipes From Giada's Kitchen," there are some underlying messages that are confusing at best, and untruthful at worst. I was reading an article the other day about the author, who had decided to "get off the dieting bandwagon, and move on with her life." In other words, she was letting go of the numbers that were formerly defining her... scale number, calorie numbers, size number, etc., and was trying to find joy in something other than her appearance. Doesn't that sound nice??? And so... balanced compared to the extremes that our world seems to take regarding appearance? But yet, as I set down the magazine to get ready to go to a volleyball game, I glanced at the featured highlights on the front: "Got Belly Fat? We'll Convince You To Lose It," and "The Whole Body Anti-aging Guide." Hmmmm.
Later, I'm reading another article in the same magazine about how the author loves how good eating healthy makes her feel. " It's not about how much you weigh or if you're as thin as someone else. it's about looking in the mirror and loving yourself. " Hmmm, interesting. Yet, only a few pages away, I find the phrase, "The thin life is the good life." repeated several times in a row.
Confusing? Well, at least to me, it is! Basically, I'm not supposed to love myself and be proud of the way I look at any weight/stage of life, as long as I don't have belly fat, wrinkles, or any other signs of being human. Easy, huh. (NOT!)
I was talking to one of my friends about a friend of mine who (a while back) had anorexic tendencies, and the first thing she said was, "We need to BURN all the magazines!" She was furious how magazines present ideas such as "The thin life is the good life," and other such hints that it is what's on the outside that really matters. She wanted to burn the magazines that she believed were at the roots of our friend's eating disorder.
Is it our culture's fault? I mean, they are the ones presenting some pretty blatant lies to us. BUT, magazines are in the business world. Oftentimes, they print what people want to hear. They print what the largest majority of people will buy, and apparently, since that's what they KEEP printing, most of us magazine-readers are interested. A lot of people, including myself, buy into the belief that "How you look makes you valuable."
It's a lie that, for a while, I haven't really questioned. I look in the mirror, and think I'm worthless thanks to what stares back at me. I look at my model-like friends and wonder why I'm so different. I've cried many tears wishing God would make me look like them. Because I want to feel valuable. I want to be worth the affection of others.
Most of you who I know are reading this haven't bought into this lie. But are there other, more subtle ones, that you might be believing? Maybe you think someone else is more valuable because they're a great friend, sibling, public speaker, parent, Christian, athlete, artist, musician, comedian, organizer, scholar etc. Maybe YOU think you're better because you are better at any of the above. I've known people who are prideful over aspects of their relationship with God, and people who are mortified that math simply doesn't click. Maybe you believe lies about God; that He doesn't mind sin, that He is angry at you, that He isn't good. You get the picture. We may not buy into the same lies as me, but as Christians, we are targets of Satan, and I'm willing to bet that you have, at some point, struggled with a lie.
The world does whisper many lies to us, but it is our CHOICE to believe them. I want to work on using my head, and the power Christ has given me, rather than my feelings, to figure out what's truth. What about you?