4 Ways to Feel Beautiful…When You’re Not Really Feeling It with Jolene Engle

Jolene Engle of Christian Wife University is among my favorite gals on the web. She speaks honestly and biblically about issues wives face. Her website Christian Wife University is filled with great advice for marriage.

And I was privileged to participate in her amazing online conference, Wisdom for Wives, in which I got to talk about my favorite topic — marital intimacy.

Once again, Jolene gets real with her readers in today’s post about feeling beautiful. You’ll recognize the honesty of a wife who struggles like so many of us do, but also her godly response to those self-image concerns. I pray Jolene’s post uplifts you as it did me.

4 Ways to Feel Beautiful...When You're Not Really Feeling It with Jolene Engle

Any person in their right mind would think that what I’m about to share on the topic of feeling beautiful actually feels beautiful. But I don’t.

When I look in the mirror, I cringe.

When J invited me to guest post on this series of Feel Beautiful, I cringed.

Over the months as I’ve thought about writing this post, I’ve cringed.

As I’ve sat down to type out this post, I’ve cringed.

I’ve always had a distorted view of my outer appearance. Even when I weighed 112 lbs. standing at 5’7″.

Now I weigh more. Much more after giving birth to two kiddos, and I don’t mean yesterday. My sons are 14 and 16 years old, and for the life of me I still can’t get the weight off after all of these years. Insert: feels like a failure after all these years.

Just the other day my family and I were looking at old photos of the four of us. My husband remarked that he looks the same in all of them. I had a bout of discouragement that ran through my soul because it was quite evident that I did not look same.

He was growing old graciously and I was just… growing old. My waist is thicker and my hair is thinner.

When I look at those old photos, I cringe.

So, what on earth can someone like me who struggles with her outer appearance tell you about feeling beautiful when the majority of the time I do not?

Well, I do a few things so I’m not constantly consumed and drowning in my vanity sorrows and perhaps what I share will help you?

4 Ways to Feel Beautiful…when you’re not really feeling it

1. Define Who You Worship.

I fight to not make my outer appearance an idol in my life. When I want to hide myself from the world because I do not like how I look, I have a choice. I can either worship me (my insecurities) or worship the Lord and allow Him to use me to minister to others. This requires me to get out of the house so others will actually see me. And the idea of me taping and shooting more videos on YouTube, yeah, well that is never on the top of my to-do list.

But here’s the thing. I worship Jesus Christ. I bend my knee to Him, and when He calls me to share a message for the whole world to see, well, I want to please Him. I’m just hoping He won’t be calling me to get on Periscope anytime soon because that tool is like a video selfie! In my mind, I’m not even attractive enough for videos that I edit let alone videos of me in their rawest form!

2. Change What You Can.

A few weeks back I went to get my hair done. Afterwards, I felt like a million bucks just because I had a more flattering style to work with and my gray locks were now brown. Did I look like some hot beauty in her 20s? Nope. I looked like a woman who is in her 40s because that’s who I am. But a little change or effort in my outer appearance makes me feel beautiful.

Oh, and I don’t step in front of mirrors all too much anymore. I get dressed. Do my makeup and then I’m off to build God’s kingdom. Later in the day I might come across a mirror and I’m taken aback by what I see. I can’t help but think to myself, “Is that how I really look?” Disappointment creeps right back into my heart when this takes place, so I avoid it.

I also avoid the scale. Putting on a pair of pants that are snugger than usual is the indicator for me to cut back on my calories and exercise a bit more. I don’t need some object with numbers on it defining my self-worth.

3. Give Yourself Grace.

Accepting myself as I age is something that I wrestle with on a daily basis. Sure, I exercise on a weekly basis and I try to eat healthy and watch what I eat, but hormones and aging have changed my body. Therefore, I need to grant myself grace and so do you.

4. Accept the Compliment.

My husband will tell me I look beautiful, and most, if not all of the time, I don’t really believe he means it. Shame on me. I need to learn to accept his words and God’s words as truth rather than my words.

God has not called me to be a supermodel. He has called me to model Him. Whether I’m wearing yoga pants while I’m cleaning my house or getting all dolled up for a date with my man, what matters most is my heart. Does it reflect Jesus Christ?

People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV

So what are the few things you do to feel beautiful? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Live a poured out life for Christ,

Jolene Engle

And yeah, don’t be fooled by the picture below. I don’t have that much hair anymore. This shot of me was taken a few years old. Taking a new one would require me to get in front of the camera. Again. And with that thought, I cringe.

Jolene Engle

Jolene was once an atheist who is now sold-out for Jesus Christ. Her heart beats fast for discipling women and you’ll find her doing just that at JoleneEngle.com. She is also the founder of Christian Wife University where she helps wives connect the dots from their reality to the Christ-centered marriage they long for and the one God intended. She is also the author of the book and bible study, Wives of the Bible.

16 thoughts on “4 Ways to Feel Beautiful…When You’re Not Really Feeling It with Jolene Engle

  1. Bonny @OysterBed7

    Ministering for Him actually requires us to leave the house! I love this. Such discernment in practical application. I know this will touch many beautiful hearts, Jolene. Love you, beautiful sister. 🙂

    Reply
  2. Kate

    Calories aren’t always the answer. Processed foods, carbs, sugar, rancid vegetable fats (Crisco, vegetable oil, margarine, canola), aspartame (used to enhance the appetites of anorexic patients in France), diet sodas, etc are literally poisoning the bodies God gave us.

    Try The Maker’s Diet
    Nourishing Traditions
    GAPS/SCD
    Trim Healthy Mama
    Whole30
    Beachbody

    We eat terribly in the US. I have had 4 children and 7 pregnancies in 7 years. My youngest is 3 and I weigh less than I did when I got pregnant with my first. I am wearing a skirt today that I wore in high school. I don’t say that to brag. Some of it is my petite genetics. But I say it as testimony to eating the foods God created rather than what man created. A Starbucks beverage is supposed to be an occasional treat, not an every day staple. Diet sodas should be banned. Just one is a toxic chemical storm on your system. Soda should be treated like alcohol and juice like soda.

    There is no need to snack mindlessly. 3 meals and a small afternoon healthful boost snack is plenty.

    Diet foods are also chemical toxic storms. Never buy anything that is unnaturally reduced fat or fat free.

    When I went on GAPS, I was eating my entire daily recommendation of fat for breakfast alone….healthy, natural fats….and I lost 5 lbs that month without even trying and my bloated belly went away.

    Please, please ladies, take care of yourselves, the body God gave you. You will feel so much better when you do.

    Reply
    1. agnesv

      thanks for the article, Jolene. and thanks for this testimony, Kate. I think I should add mine.

      I weighed 68 kilograms in the summer, which was way too much for my 173 centimetres, and all because I was eating all kinds of things that our God didn’t intend me to. processed things for every meal. sugar and sugar and sugar again. I was satisfied with my body, because I thought that was the body God has given me by genetics (my mom and aunt looked the same).

      oh, boy, was I wrong. that was definitely not the body God had given me, not the one he created to model him. that was just a version of the original, cushioned with slices of bread and cake.
      in August I found out I had candidiasis. it wasn’t fun at all, having to drop all the flour, sugars, alcoholic drinks and processed everything cold turkey and only eating things that our Creator made. but it was so worth it. God has now showed me the real body I have, his original gift for me.

      now my illness is over. I lost 8 kilos in 4 months, and, believe me, I ate A LOT every day during the diet, only the right things 🙂
      and my new, real body is definitely a keeper.., so I will go on with this eating habit right AFTER Christmas 😀 😀

      so watch out, ladies, to eat according to His intentions. Blessings!

      Reply
  3. Suzanne Davis

    What a wonderful statement that needs to travel far and wide among ALL women: ” God did call me to be a supermodel, but to model Christ…” So I posted this on my Facebook account and am texting and emailing it to friends not on FB. You are both wonderful writers and in such an important are. Thank you for your answering God’s call on your life!

    Reply
  4. Brenda Hadden

    What an awesome summation of growing older gracefully! Your words, “Oh, and I don’t step in front of mirrors all too much anymore. I get dressed. Do my makeup and then I’m off to build God’s kingdom.” is a wonderful reminder of what it’s all about anyway!!

    I have been praying for a disciplining source, in addition to the bible, that would help me become the Proverbs 31 wife I need to live like, and God led me to your writing! Thank you, God, for this ministry~

    Reply
  5. Janira B.

    Jolene:
    What a blessing to read this today! I’m also in my 40s and weight has always been an issue for me. But avoiding the mirror actually makes it worse. I have a full length mirror in our bathroom and a couple of times a week I look at myself and compliment myself on the things I do like about my body. It’s very difficult at first but over time it helps. I have a very flabby stomach (I never had children so can’t blame them) but I have great legs. I have very thin hair but I have great eyebrows and eyelashes. I have very flabby arms but I wear pretty bras. My husband is always telling me how beautiful I am and as long as he’s see it – that’s all that matters. I think when we avoid looking at ourselves we are than shocked when we do look in the mirror. Growing up I was told (by a couple of aunts & uncles) that i was too fat and ugly to ever get married. And I believed it. Then at the age of 36, my Lord & Savior blessed me with the most amazing husband I could ever have hoped for. I can tell you that at my age, no one will ever say that I am vain or anything like that – the Lord just helped me make peace with loving myself – the Lord made me so I can’t say he messed up. By the way: I grew up with the most beautiful sister ever & she also has a complex about her looks. We are a work in progress but we always thank our Maker!! I thank him that I can walk, talk and see! 🙂

    Merry Christmas!!!!

    Reply
  6. Kim G

    Wow! Jolene, you spoke verbatim every word and thought that I battle with on a daily basis too! Living in Southern California and approaching 40 in a few years I feel my beauty is fading. With magazines and social media parading perfect features and lives, it’s no wonder we as women are in this internal battle with ourselves. If we are honest, I know our driving thought when we enter a room is… Will I be noticed?
    There are days I want to desperately be back in my early thirties, but with the knowledge of now…well that’s not going to happen! And, my husband also reminds me of how beautiful I am to him, and as he says…” it flies right over my head!” Let me remind you ladies, this is SOOO discouraging to our men when we don’t receive the gift of compliments.
    When our eyes are not fixed on Jesus and the power of who He is in our lives and circumstances, Satan has a huge door to enter into our minds.
    If he can remind us of our shortcomings (exterior and interior) we are less likely to seek and serve God.
    Worse yet, I have 2 girls I’m raising (14 and 7) who clearly are looking to me to model how they should feel about their self worth in life. And I’m failing at that it feels!
    Each day I long to spiritually grow up in all ways, yet the battle remains. This idol of beauty is haunting and daunting to our very core.
    Father God,
    please give the women today reading this article the courage to KNOW we were made perfect in your image. Our flaws are nothing but just that, and will NEVER define how loved we are by You, and our ones closest to us. Use what’s considered beautiful to You Father, and help us to further your kingdom today forward. And the false ideals we have learned over the years be swept from our minds as we carry on today. Let us be an example of inward beauty to our children and the world.
    Loving you~ kim

    Reply
  7. Carolyn Noyer

    This is some post I’ve really enjoyed it. I’m further up in years than a lot of these young ladies (I’m 72), but I had 3 children and when I was younger I also was not happy with my body tipping the scales at 220 in high school. The last few years I’ve been Ill on and off and therefore lost weight. I have now been down to 145 and felt great (I’m 5’7″). Then this past September I got a blood clot in my lung and am on blood thinners. I can no longer eat a big salad for dinner, etc as green veggies interfere with the blood thinners and I’ve started gaining weight again. I fell awful, but, not much I can do about it. So, I just have to go along with what happens.. God bless all of you who feel you are not “good enough”, in God’s eyes we are all good enough.

    Reply
  8. B

    J, these feel beautiful posts are killing me! Of course, I could stop reading, but there’s a part of me that is drawn to hear what others have to say. I’m sad to report that I just cannot seem to feel beautiful no matter how much I want to. Then one of the commenters mentioned she is almost my height and weighED a couple pounds less than me and she says she was way too fat! Argh! So now I have to, along with working out, go on a special diet to try to lose another 18 pounds to try to look acceptable? Yikes! And just when I was starting to believe I was healthy. * sigh *

    But, @Jolene, on a positive note I LOVED your post! I totally understand where you are coming from. There are times I’ll leave the house feeling pretty good, and then I’ll catch a glimpse of myself in a store window or something and I just want to curl up in a heap and cry. I think I could deal with my imperfections better if the rest of the women in the world weren’t so perfect! It just seems so unfair. But…

    That’s when I realize my problem is I’m focused on the wrong things. I’ve always been ugly, and my family made sure I knew it by reminding me daily as a child and a teenager. Not to mention the more cruel girls in HS. I was an actress, a cheerleader, and I had a lot of friends, but boy did some girls love to put me down. Don’t let your daughters do that or suffer through that. It sticks! My poor husband tries to combat the negativity, but I think he’s trying to believe in beauty that’s not there. He’s trying to make me beautiful through wishful thinking.

    Anyhow… I especially liked point #1, Define Who you Worship. I really need to focus on that, study on that, and put more time and energy into that. I need to do a lot of heart work. It’s uncomfortable, but it needs to be done.

    I also need to change what I can (the continued battle to lose more and more weight, while still retaining the proper amount of womanly curves – no easy task). And give myself grace – a great idea, but a concept I really struggle with. And, accept the compliment? That’s a tough one. Most compliments are kind attempts to make me feel better. I am very strange in the fact that I do not like compliments. It is far easier to brush them off than to fool myself into believing them. I also do not believe my husband for a second when he calls me beautiful. He’s smarter than that. He knows I am not beautiful or even average, and I think when men say they are hurt when we don’t accept their compliments, they are really just upset that we are not falling for it. I’m not sure how I feel.

    But I like posts that make me think, and maybe I was meant to read all these posts this year. It’s forcing me to think about things I’d rather not think about.

    Reply
  9. agnesv

    dear B, I really didn’t want to offend you, nor anyone else. and I definitely didn’t want to make you feel bad about your body.
    let me tell you what I truly believe: I had to use ‘kilograms’ when I typed my testimony about eating (to give facts and not only a story), but I really don’t believe in them.

    sounds crazy, I know. let me say it again: I don’t believe in numbers when it comes to beauty, because that is something that can’t be measured. our Father doesn’t see us as a pile of numbers so we also shouldn’t degrade ourselves like this.
    yes, I WAS flabby, bloated and totally full of cellulite when I was at 68 kgs, and I definitely didn’t feel healthy at all. that’s why I thought that weight was too much for me.
    but you do feel healthy, so I just KNOW you can’t be as flabby and bloated etc., like I was.

    fun fact: my best friend is just as tall as me, and now she weighs the exact same, and, guess what, she looks a LOT skinnier than me, and we are totally puzzled why 😀

    so don’t be mad at yourself, nor at me, and please, don’t measure your beauty with numbers – even if I did it in front of you, which I regret.
    Blessings 🙂

    Reply
    1. Kate

      I hate numbers. According to my doctor’s chart and weight loss books, I am borderline overweight, and yet I wear a UK size 10 (American size 4)!!!

      Healthy isn’t a number on the scale. A friend of mine is a yoga instructor and she isn’t a twig.

      Sexy isn’t 36-24-36.

      Beautiful isn’t perfection.

      I have had men gasp and call me gorgeous. And I have had men wrinkle their nose and call me ugly.

      I was unhealthiest at my skinniest. I am healthiest at the upper end of my weight to height scale.

      No matter how much I exercise or what I eat I am not going to grow my boobs. I will likely always have a bit of a tummy pooch. Even at 105 lbs, my belly stuck out a little below my belly button. I would need to corset train to get my waist pinched in to where I want it.

      But that’s ok. Be the best healthy you can be. THAT is beautiful and sexy.

      Reply
    2. B

      Hi Agnes,
      No worries, you didn’t offend, and I’m not mad at you. These issues are mine, and not your fault at all. I need to stop focusing on the wrong things.

      I get frustrated because I seem to have a size I cannot change. Even after rounds of P90, months of running, I STILL hover at 150 lbs and I am 5’9″. I do not pig out, but I do not eat just fruits and veggies either. Even when my body fat % drops, my clothing size drops, I am still stuck right around 150. I don’t have cellulite, and only a tiny bit of “flab” – but if we are the same height, I must be deluding myself. It’s no big deal, I just need to quit whining and try harder!

      Perhaps I will try Trim Healthy Mama. I have a friend who did it and she looks great. Of course she’s 4’11” so she has the blessing of being petite on her side. It’s hard to be petite and not look amazing.

      So all of that to say, thank you for the kind reply, but you did nothing wrong. My issues (and weight problem) are all mine.

      Reply
  10. MARAH WALTA

    I like to pamper/polish my nails and toes. I have added some extension to my hair. And to smile when I don’t feel like it. I am to improve on my wardrobe because it shows confident. Above all it is Christ that keeps me together, grounded and head up.

    Reply
  11. Kim

    “I looked like a woman who is in her 40s because that’s who I am.”
    I loved this and need to remember that I am no longer 20, but a 40 something that has given birth to 3 beautiful children. That I need to point to Christ, not the scale when wondering where my worth comes from.

    Merry Christmas! And I need to add your blog to my list of daily reading.

    Reply
  12. Lisa

    This hit SO close to home and brought me to tears. I’m in my late 40s and haven’t felt beautiful in many years. I fight the losing battle with my weight daily. I’m happy for people who can lose the weight and keep it off, but my body stubbornly clings to every pound despite regular, vigorous exercise and healthy eating.

    It seems the few things I used to like about my body are no longer attractive. Severe anemia made me lose much of my hair – never to return. I inherited my mom’s droopy eyelids. My calves are developing icky veins. There’s nothing left I like about my body. Dh loves me and is a sweet man, but he hasn’t said, “you’re pretty” in way over a decade. He’s extremely honest, and I know he can’t say it because he’d feel like he was lying.

    I HATE looking in the mirror. I often do a double take when I catch my reflection. Do I really look like that?

    My only comfort is that God doesn’t look at the outward appearance. Maybe part of heaven is feeling beautiful.

    Reply

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