WHAT DO I LOOK LIKE?

I WORE NO HAIR GEL TO SCHOOL YESTERDAY!! ‘So what’ I hear you ask. Well read on dear reader, and realise the scale of my achievement! I wrote this a few weeks back and was, frankly, embarrassed to publish it. Which is normally the best reason for publishing…

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So, there I am. That’s a blurry depiction of what I look like – as recorded by my mobile phone. I’ve had times when I would have given a great deal to have looked different. Now, I’ve got to a point, having just passed my 30th birthday, where I will at least admit it could be worse, as well as plenty better! But how should we, as Christians, regard our appearance? Moreover, how are we coping within an ever more image obsessed culture, where we’ll often be judged more by our looks than our character? As my wife faces the particular risks associated with considering removing a tumour attached to her facial nerve, I consider this issue of our relationship with our ‘looks’ particularly worth discussing.

 

I generally challenge myself on here to maintain honesty, even if it makes me look foolish. Well, there’s no subject more likely to fulfil that aim than me analysing the relationship I have with my own appearance. It’s just not the done thing! In churches we are happy for our women to have self-image issues but, for blokes… with my mates I may talk about my thought life, my prayer life, my sex life even, but the statement ‘I don’t feel very attractive’?! Well it would surely provoke the most awkward of silences. What are they supposed to say, after all? Even so, this is the fact I want to face. I have grown up within a supremely image-fixated society, and I sometimes believe the issues I’ve had with what I see in my mirror have done more than I’d ever like to credit to shape the person I’ve become. Now, following my 30th I can no longer pretend to be a young man… it’s all downhill from here physically-speaking! I think, therefore, it’s probably time to make peace with my appearance, and to consider how to do such a thing from a Christian perspective.

 

I was always short, skinny and ‘kinda funny-looking’ (still am!), to quote the movie Fargo. Ah, let’s get more honest than that… I was a big head on a puny body – my nose, ears, big eyes… I sometimes felt like every single feature God gave me lent itself to playground taunts. I wasn’t unpopular and I was able to treat most banter as intended, developing a nice line in self-depreciation. However, following a lifetime of nicknames based on fictional non-human characters, I did genuinely believe myself to look somehow less than human. I did absolutely presume that any laughter I heard in public was at the expense of my appearance. And, whilst I’m aware I have ‘normalised’ slightly as adolescence has become but a (now distant!) memory, my self-image has been complicated further by the fact I have an improbably attractive wife – years of assuming everyone’s first reaction to be wondering quite how I managed to bat so far ‘above my average’ and what’s in it for her.

 

What effect has it had on me? Well, ironically, I’m guilty of vanity. I’m far more vain than I should be as a Christian man with a keen sense of this world’s futility. I’m subconsciously desperate to make the best of what I see as a bad lot; being honest, I’d rather miss church than attend it without wearing hair gel! Don’t worry, I’m well aware of how ridiculous that is… It has also led to me over-compensating in terms of my personality. If the first impression is made with the eyes then you’d better bet the second impression, the one I can control, will try and make up for it. In addition, I may not have angry short-man syndrome, but I definitely am more competitive than is good for me. I have a burning desire to outdo those whose default setting may be to look down their nose at me.

 

And how does my desire to be godly impact upon all this? Well, I am a loved, valued, planned part of God’s creation. I am made in His image and chosen by Him for salvation. It is not for me to deem His efforts unsatisfactory! ‘God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple’ Paul says in 1 Corinthans 3. Regarding vanity, 2 Timothy 3 places ‘lovers of self’ among the ranks of ‘detestable’ sinners. Our eyes should be focused on Christ, not on ourselves – in Matthew 16:24 he said that ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’. So yes I need to get over it. Especially as I am not particularly accursed – sure, the modelling contract is unlikely to be in the post, but neither am I deformed… indeed my beautiful wife considers me attractive, for reasons I will never grasp but remain grateful for nonetheless. The sin I’m actually most guilty of is covetousness. Envying another man’s height, physique or looks is no different in effect to envying his house or car. It is to place my hopes in false idols; it is me expressing a lack of faith and dissatisfaction for the blessings God has bestowed upon me. And he knows best. It would clearly do me no favours were I required to suppose every woman I encountered was tempted to throw herself my way!

 

So, as I have said on a number of occasions through this forum, enough already! Time to grow up. Time to take the events of this strange week as a decisive reminder that the standards and values of this world are not all important or even close to it. It is better that I am more righteous than that I am more attractive. It is better that I am saved than… well anything! If you see me at church with fluffy bowl-head hair, then I really have come of age!          

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3 comments so far

  1. Mark on

    Hi thanks for a great post. I’ll be back 🙂

  2. blbarber on

    Excellent thoughts on this Andy. And, hey, at least you have hair – Leviticus 13:40.

  3. Tom Stanbury on

    You do have a full head of hair and it looks likely to remain that way unlike many of your peers!


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