I've never been beautiful. I've never been ugly.
I lived my life in the average category.
But why be average when you can be extraordinary, right?
And since you are extraordinary, you should spoil yourself, and take good care of yourself. You matter.
That's the message I keep coming across in the latest women's magazines, Instagram posts and other social media I track that focus on health and over all well-being. Those messages draw me in. I want to love myself and deserve to be spoiled. I want to be the best version of me. I want to be successful.
I like to think I'm your pretty typical 30-something woman. This includes the self-talk that circulates my mind on any given day. Sometimes it's self-loving, sometimes self-centred and even sometimes self-hating.
"You are a beautiful woman."
"You aren't enough, that's why you're still single."
"You'll never be like those (insert comparison here) women, so why bother trying."
"Just stick to it\focus more\deny yourself, etc…and you can accomplish anything."
A recent scan of the #motivationmonday hashtag on Instagram came up with these examples: "Love yourself enough to live a healthy lifestyle", "Don't forget to be awesome", or the words "I believe in you" super-imposed over a photo of Ryan Gosling.
What you think matters
In an earlier post (A New Year, A New You, February 2013) I commented that there is a lot of good and positive elements in these motivational statements. But I still think there is one vital element missing: God.
Where is Jesus in the motivation to live a wholly healthy life? It's almost as if He's been tossed to the back of our cultural-closet like a pair of old sneakers that might, though never will, get used. These mottos ask us to look into ourselves for the ability to accomplish anything.
The Bible does encourage us to keep our minds focused on uplifting thoughts: "You'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse." (Philippians 4:8 - MSG)
More than 29-thousand people follow Laura Rixon on Instagram. She's a 23 year old Brisbane woman who is passionate about getting women to live well by taking care of themselves through fitness, good food and solid faith in Christ. She says she "wisely jumped on the bandwagon" of this self-love talk. Instead of promoting a lifestyle that only looks out for oneself, Rixon says loving others is the best way to in turn love oneself. "The idea of loving yourself first is no where in the Bible. Jesus tells us to love Him and love other people."
Rixon is in her last year of an Occupational Therapist degree at the Queensland University of Technology. She grew up on a farm in northern New South Wales, where meals from a family veggie patch and long days spent in the great outdoors was typical. She says staying healthy and active was normal.
Rixon and her family moved to Brisbane when she was in her final years of high school. It wasn't until two years ago that Rixon realized she needed to work at keeping those healthy living habits in her life.
Rixon's motivating posts on Instagram echo what she believes: make healthy choices in food and exercise, enjoy nature while being active and keep Jesus at the centre of it all. Rixon told me she used to try and include some sort of reference to God in all her social media posts, but "it got really complicated." For example, it's not an easy transition to include Jesus in a photo about an egg-white omelette.
Now, she just states it up front in her profile: "Follower of Jesus". Rixon says she hopes people will resonate with the messages she posts about being healthy, or buying flowers for a friend to make her day, or having an active morning routine. "When they dig a bit deeper into who posted the photo they'll see my bio and think, 'that's who she's following for her motivation and inspiration, for how she lives."
My motivational words
I learned my motivational phrase when I was just seven years old. It's stuck with me. Even after walking away from God, or more like running in the other direction, I quickly remembered this verse when I started to seek Him again.
It's a simple one: I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength. (Philippians 4 verse 13) It gets my eyes off myself. It gets your eyes off yourself. Instead it gets us to see that yes, we are extraordinary, not because of who we are, but because of Whose we are.
Lisa Goetze tries to stay healthy in body, mind and spirit. She's been able to use health and well-being as a way to connect with international youth who are training at Youth With A Mission in Brisbane, where she serves full-time.
Lisa Goetze's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/lisa-goetze.html