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Yesterday, I told you about the broken windows theory and why it means that what we think matters. (If you missed that post, be sure to check it out.)
The temptation to allow boys (or anyone else) to define our worth is dangerous.
I also told you Anna’s story. Because Anna didn’t believe that she had God-given worth, her picker-outer got broken. She ended up in a string of bad dating relationships that all ended badly.
Not every girl allows herself to be ensnared by abusive and unhealthy relationships, but many of us desperately seek confirmation of our beauty and worth from the men around us. This is the theme of Amanda’s story. Check it out.
“It seems I can never measure up. Usually, when I am most unhappy with my physical body is when I am not in tune with God either. Why are girls much happier with a boyfriend? Maybe it’s because we hear comments like ‘You look nice today’ more often. Who knows? But it seems that when I get a boyfriend, I tend to look to him in finding my beauty instead of the only One who can reveal my real beauty, God. I have struggled to try to turn my perspective toward God’s view of beauty in my life.”
Can you relate? (I can!)
The temptation to allow boys (or anyone else) to define our worth is dangerous. Even the most perfect boy will fall short if he becomes our source of security. That is because they are human, prone to mess up, guaranteed to have a bad day now and then, and sure to offer an unkind word at least every once in awhile.
Jesus, on the other hand, is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His feelings for us do not waver. His love does not change. He consistently draws us to Himself and promises that He loves us, that He died for us, that He is preparing a place for us.
You Are a Shiny City
He consistently draws us to Himself and promises that He loves us, that He died for us, that He is preparing a place for us.
The broken windows theory states that what we think about ourselves matters. If we see a run-down neighborhood in the mirror, we will make choices that invite others to throw stones toward our already broken hearts.
Jesus describes each of us not as a neighborhood, but as an entire city. The city He describes is not run-down and crime-ridden. Instead it is beautiful, well-protected, and set-apart. It shines like a brilliant diamond, on display for the world to see!
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:14–16).
You are a beautiful city. You are well lit, well taken care of, and destined to show off God’s glory. Even the parts of you that have been torn down by others are redeemable by Christ. You are His masterpiece. It is His plan for people to look at you and praise Him. You are not a littered sidewalk. You are not a deserted neighborhood. You are not a broken window.
Know the State of Your Streets
Take an honest assessment of the shape your heart is in.
- Are you broken?
- Are there places in your heart that need repair?
- Is your picker-outer broken?
- Have your feelings about your lack of worth led you into relationships that confirm that you don’t have much to offer?
- Have you been in a series of relationships in which you have been abused or taken advantage of?
During a period of my life when my dating patterns were destructive, I simply failed to notice the pattern. I knew my heart was being broken over and over, but I just assumed that was normal. I started to believe that all men hurt women. I thought that friendships were supposed to be draining, that the constant sacrificing of myself and my needs was just par for the course.
Hear me, I was wrong.
If these patterns have emerged in your life, I want you to see that relationships in which you are abused, neglected, or repeatedly taken advantage of are not healthy. It is the nature of relationships that there is some sacrifice and give-and-take involved, but if you are gravitating toward painful relationships consistently, there is evidence of a deeper problem.
Fortify Your City
Just as the city Jesus described was elevated for protection, your boundaries and standards might need to be raised. It might be that there are some relationships that Christ would call you to give up or to take a break from. It is possible that you need to stop dating altogether for awhile until Christ has repaired certain areas of your heart.
Even the parts of you that have been torn down by others are redeemable by Christ.
Guarding your heart means to be cautious, to honestly evaluate the benefits of the relationships you are in, and to understand your motivation for being in those relationships. As always, we are not without a guide.
Philippians 4:7 promises, “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Jesus is able to protect us if we let Him. He is able to speak to us about right boundaries for our hearts and relationships.
When we apply the broken windows theory to our lives, it becomes clear that embracing our beauty and worth is not a small issue. When we fail to see our value, it affects us big time! But when we are able to trust that God’s truths about our beauty and worth are real, we find powerful freedom!
You are a bright light, a city on a hill. You are God’s masterpiece. You are beautiful. Your heart is worth protecting.
Jesus, help us to see ourselves as You see us. Teach us how to guard our hearts and to shine like bright cities on a hill. Amen.
PS: Most of this post came from my book on true beauty, Graffiti: Learning to See the Art in Ourselves. I’m giving it away for this week’s Freebie Friday. Don’t miss it.