This is a devotion was written by Dianne Neal Matthews for the One Year Women of the Bible
I don’t have a lot of memories of my childhood. We found a box of slides in the attic – oh my! So many glimpses into the past. The further I am from my childhood- the better it looks. It seems my father and Kodachrome captured the best memories.
“So mama don’t take my Kodachrome away” ~ Paul Simon,
Last night at a wedding, listening to the vows, made me think of our wedding. I asked Ron, “did we promise all that?” His reply, “Don’t you remember?” So long ago – but we’ve certainly lived it. Richer or poorer. Sickness and health. Till death do us part. The last five years have put those vows to the test. For a time, we were poorer, sicker, and it wasn’t looking like Ron would make it and recover from his twelve surgeries — but with God’s mercy and help we have honored those vows and God has blessed us abundantly. ——– Ephesians 3:20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,
There was a day when the only thing I had to care for was my ’75 red Mustang. One husband, four kids, and ten grandchildren later – my life is MORE. More complicated. More laughter. More tears. More joy. More pain. More people. More problems. More to pray for. More to love. Just MORE. I am thankful for the 18 people God has added to my life. Who are you thankful for today?
When I see my fifty-something self in pictures, I cringe and my inner voice says, “Yikes, who is the chubby lady?” The ironic thing is that I use to be a teenage-fashion model. When I was very young, thin and FABULOUS, I looked at pictures of myself, cringed, and my inner voice said, “Yikes!” I’ve seen this thing from both sides now – through the eyes of an underweight, insecure fashion model – and through my plus-size post-menopausal goggles. Most of us women – young or old – thick or thin – aren’t happy with the way we look in pictures.
We are often too hard on ourselves and so we don’t get “IN THE PICTURE.”
My little one-year-old grandson, Abel, recently FaceTimed me to show me he got the picture I sent him when I was away on a trip. He held it up and said, “Grandma! Grandma!” He was so excited to have a photo of me to carry around. And I almost hadn’t sent it, because I don’t like the way I look. AND… I DON’T LOOK LIKE I USED TO LOOK. My body hasn’t been the same since my thyroid decided to go on a permanent vacation, Rheumatoid Arthritis took up residence in my joints, and pain became my constant companion. That’s not an excuse, just a list of facts, which I am working on overcoming with the aid of my doctor, nutritional help and daily walks. My fatty liver even longs to be thin and healthy again.
Because I don’t look perfect, I have to mentally say, “Get over yourself” when I get in the picture. I know it’s not just leftover mental baggage from working in the fashion industry because I have many non-model friends who can’t stand to see themselves in photos and won’t be tagged on Facebook.
Very few people want a profile picture that would allow them to be recognized if they entered a room.
We are a generation of people that don’t want to look like ourselves. Everyone talks about getting “REAL”, but not about our looks. Reality is taboo.
My eight-year-old granddaughter, Ever, was looking at an old modeling photo that I had out. She pondered over it for a long time and said, “You look familiar.” Yes, that insecure teenage girl is in here somewhere horrified by the numerous fat cells I’ve collected like tea cups, the double-digit size of my jeans, and the double-chin that refuses to take a good selfie. As a grown adult, I refused to be bullied and beat up by MYSELF. I spent my teenager years hating myself for not looking perfect AND I don’t have time for that again. Excuse me, while I go find my iPhone, I feel a selfie coming on and I want to be “IN THE PICTURE.”
On Tonya’s third birthday her eyes lit up as she unwrapped her first perfect poly-vinyl goddess – a Barbie doll. That is where she believes her obsession with fashion and beauty began.
“I believed my life would be perfect if I were that beautiful,” Tonya shares.
Hoping to emerge “Barbie-fied” from her “gawky adolescence” Tonya signed up for classes with a modelling agent at age 15.
Soon after her sixteenth birthday a modelling agent from Paris arrived at her agency looking for a fresh new face and chose Tonya out of 200 other girls he interviewed.
Within a few months of arriving in Paris, Tonya was adorning magazine covers, billboards, and television commercials and travelling to fashion capitals New York, Milan, Munich, and Tokyo.
“My life was glamorous and exciting; I danced with royalty, drank champagne, and dated athletes, rock stars, and millionaires,” she recalls.
“I’d always been thin, so it never occurred to me my excessive drinking and late-night eating could add pounds to my figure, but they did.”
After gaining ten pounds Tonya was increasingly rejected in favour of thinner models.
“I crash dieted to maintain my weight for a while but soon lost control,” she admits.
“The harder I tried to lose weight, the more I became obsessed with food. I got so hungry I started bingeing and purging. It became a vicious cycle.”
Finally, after a week-long fast, she walked into Ford Models weighing 54kg and was told she still needed to lose more weight.
“Now when I looked in the mirror I no longer saw a resemblance to Barbie,” she says sadly.
Once the glamour and excitement wore off Tonya says she began feeling a void in her life.
“No matter where I lived, who I dated, or what level of success I achieved, I felt empty,” she admits.
“I used food to fill the empty place, and eventually I turned to alcohol, drugs, and men. My life spiralled downwards.”
Then one day she same across a Bible in her hotel room and began reading it.
“Thinking about my messy life, I knew I was far from God and doubted He could love me. When I began asking spiritual questions, a model friend encouraged me to read New Age self-help books. I began consulting my horoscope, searching fruitlessly for answers.”
At 18, Tonya began contemplating suicide. “My whole worth in life was based on the way I looked,” she says. “I couldn’t look perfect so I felt absolutely worthless.”
She flew home to see her family before going through with her plan but, when a friend invited her to a Christian concert, plans changed.
“After the music, the pastor asked: ‘Do you have a void in your life? Have you tried everything and still feel empty?’ I felt he was speaking directly to me,” she remembers.
She knew what she had to do: step forward to ask Jesus to become her personal Saviour and Lord.
“After I accepted the Lord, my life was forever changed and I realised there is more to beauty than meets the eye,” she says.
It was at that point that Tonya walked away from the modelling world and got a job as a secretary.
“God slowly began to change me. By reading the Bible, I learnt I don’t have to look perfect for God to love me. I discovered God doesn’t accept me because of the size of my jeans, the condition of my skin, or my reflection in the mirror.
“God loves me so much He sent His only Son Jesus to die for me, just as I am.”
After leaving the modelling business Tonya no longer felt the pressure to stay extremely thin and soon found a healthier balance with eating, exercise, and sleeping.
“I also stopped drinking, doing drugs, and staying out all night,” she adds.
After marrying Ron and having four children, 53-year-old Tonya admits her figure is not what it once was but says she found a new way to deal with her disappointment.
“I began to take a good look at godly women I admired and realised they had a ‘glow’ about them despite not being model material,” she explains.
“I realised Christian women I knew had a beauty that didn’t come from the makeup counter but from time spent in prayer and Bible study.”
Tonya reminds her daughters of this truth, reading them the Bible verse that says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well (see Psalm 139:13-14).”
“Looking beautiful outwardly is only skin deep, but being beautiful is soul deep,” she concludes.
“That’s the only beauty I now want to model.”
Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click.
“Ron,” I protested late one night as I was trying to read, “that clicking sound while you scroll thru the Netflix menu is driving me absolutely crazy. Could you use your remote and turn the volume down?”
“Too bad there’s not a remote with volume control when you’re chewing ice.” He maturely responded.
“Ha! Well, when I have nightmares – the monsters don’t growl. They just say, Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click.”
At which point, I started laughing at my own joke. He, clearly not amused, turned the television off.
Ron and I do not have a perfect marriage. We are just two flawed, quirky, selfish humans who have, with God’s help, managed to stay married. The evangelist Billy Graham was married to Ruth, a fabulously outspoken godly woman. When she was asked if she had ever considered divorce, she replied, “Divorce? No. Murder? Yes.”
Reasons Ron and I are still together:
- We believe in the “till death do us part” vow we took on our wedding day.
- I could make number one happen, but I don’t look good in orange.
Exodus 20:13 reads, “You shall not murder.” I know you seldom see one of the Ten Commandments used as a stay-married admonition – but as they say, “If the verse fits, use it.”
“I never got my cheese toast or utensils,” I complained to my husband. “The waitress is not doing a very good job.” Others in our large group started to grumble. We were on vacation, we were hungry, and the service was just plain lousy. The next time the waitress came to our table, my husband reached out and touched her arm. When she turned toward him, he caught her eye and asked, “How are you?” “I’ve had the worst day of my life,” she replied as tears filled her eyes. She continued, “My father has diabetes and had his lower leg amputated this morning. He wanted me to stay with him at the hospital. I couldn’t get anyone to cover my evening shift and I was late to work. I hope I don’t lose my job.” Her statement took my breath away. I was upset about cheese toast and she was worried about her very ill parent and her job. When we prayed for our meal, my husband also prayed for the waitress and her father.
That long-ago incident made a big impression on me. I wondered, how many times had I been insensitive with someone when they were going through a difficult time? Since then, when I am dealing with people, I try to be patient, take the time to make eye contact and simply ask, “How are you?” I am amazed at the life struggles and stories I’ve heard by asking this simple question. My life lesson learned from a missing piece of Cheese Toast.
What place does God give women in society? Ever since God made Eve, He has created half of the world’s population with two X chromosomes. Jesus gave women a significant place in his life and ministry and He elevated the status of women in Jewish society. Women played an important role in the early church and the spreading of the gospel. Throughout history God has empowered women. In the Bible, women held positions of power such as: warrior, leader, wife, mother, teacher, nurse, queen, judge, prophetess, and deaconess.
In the 1970s, women were encouraged to subscribe to Ms. Magazine, burn their bras, and sing Helen Reddy’s “I am woman, hear me roar!” During the last forty years, women who lived the Biblical idea of womanhood were viewed by many as being un-liberated and living unfulfilled lives. Even today, Christian women are sometimes portrayed as weak, passive, and goal-less. In reality, our faith should make us stronger, more proactive, and divinely inspired, because we have His power. We were created for a purpose. We have a destiny. Girl Power at its finest!