Several of you have recently commented about your struggle to feel beautiful. This is a common area of heartbreak for young women. In fact, the challenge to embrace my own beauty and worth has been one of the most intense struggles of my life. I am not alone in that struggle. I have personally witnessed the turmoil that many of you experience in this area and I know how widespread those feelings are among your generation.
In fact, I am convinced that feelings of worthlessness have become epidemic among young women. I am so passionate about pointing you toward the liberating Truth of God’s Word on this topic that I wrote a book about it. It is titled Graffiti: Learning to See the Art in Ourselves and it was released by Moody Publishers this summer.
I was recently interviewed about the book by phendricks. Paula serves as the Internet coordinator and staff writer for Revive our Hearts. Check out our conversation below.
What prompted you to write Graffiti?
My husband and I have been serving in full-time youth ministry for about a decade. As a result of that I have the privilege of spending a lot of time with young women. I’ve witnessed firsthand how many girls struggle to understand their beauty and worth and the devastating toll that can take. In fact, I have personally struggled to embrace my own beauty most of my life.
Several years ago I was leading a small group and they asked me to teach them how to feel good about their bodies. I initially told them no, because I knew that I didn’t have freedom in that area. But, God had different plans. I started to dig into the Word to see what God had to say about our beauty and worth and the first Graffiti Bible study was born. It started out as a six-week study for that small group of girls. The result was a radical transformation in my own heart. As it turns out, that transformation has been contagious.
What do you hope to see this book accomplish?
I simply want girls to understand their value based on who God says they are. I am convinced that if we can truly grasp God’s truth in this area it has the power to change every corner of our lives. Ultimately, I would love to see a cultural shift in the way we see beauty, but I think that needs to happen through generations. If today’s young women can grasp their God-given worth and embrace their God-given beauty they can have the greatest impact by teaching that to their daughters. Then if those girls teach their daughters and their daughters teach their daughters the mountain will start to move. I guess I would love Graffiti to be part of that movement.
Which part of Graffiti are you most passionate about?
I think what is different about Graffiti is that I look deep into the Word for answers about beauty and worth. This is a complex issue and simply saying “God loves you the way that you are” doesn’t seem to satisfy our need to understand our beauty and worth. So, I am really passionate about sending girls to the Word as the source for some of their toughest questions about themselves. I was so shocked to find that the answers I most needed were in there.
There’s also a chapter in the book where I explore the Broken Windows Theory as it relates to how we view ourselves. This is a theory used by criminologists. The gist is this: if a neighborhood is already run down, we don’t hesitate to do more damage by littering or throwing rocks through broken windows. But if the neighborhood is clean and well-kept, we aren’t likely to do damage there. Our beauty is like this. If we don’t understand our value we tend to make choices that hurt our hearts or invite others to hurt us. But if we grasp that we have value and beauty and are deeply loved by the Creator, we tend to make decisions that guard that worth. In other words, how we feel about ourselves truly matters. I want girls to get that.
What’s the bottom-line message of Graffiti?
You are beautiful because you are the creation of a kind and loving God. Nothing you could ever do or be or look like could ever give you more value than that.
How will I benefit from reading Graffiti?
If you’re like me, the truths you find in this book will be liberating. I tried really hard to challenge my readers to dig deep into their own hearts throughout the book. In fact, there are places to journal after every chapter. I want them to really process through how they feel about their own beauty and the beauty of others and then apply God’s truth to that and see if it matches up. It is my prayer that the result with be an understanding of themselves that is both accurate and freeing.
What ages is Graffiti written for?
I wrote it for girls ages 15-25, but it seems to have struck a universal chord among women. I have had girls as young as 8 and 9 and women as old as 80 tell me that it powerfully impacted them. I think that’s pretty cool.
What is the key to being secure in who I am?
Look to Jesus as the source of your value. That sounds simple. But the truth is that if you look to your outer beauty or your accomplishments or the affirmations of others or the culture to affirm you, you will fall painfully short. But Jesus created every part of you and he calls that “good.” The hard part is letting that be enough on a day-to-day basis.
Will I ever be beautiful enough?
If you are trying to be beautiful enough to win the praises of others or match the model of culture the answer is no. Even if you do manage to achieve the look that is currently desirable, you will find it to be fleeting (either the standard will change or you will). But if you are looking to be beautiful enough to matter, you’re already there. God declares that you have tremendous value. Psalm 45:11 says that He is enthralled by your beauty. If we look that word up in the dictionary we will find that it means “to hold spellbound, to captivate, to enslave.” You are already beautiful enough to hold the King of Kings spellbound. I can’t think of much better praise.