I am 19 and feel like I will never get married. I have never had a boyfriend, never been asked out on a date, never been asked to a dance, and I have never gotten attention from guys.
Back in elementary school, I was bullied for my appearance. Boys would look at me and say, “She will never get married! Look how ugly she is. No man would ever love her.” I was at an awkward stage at the time, not knowing what to do with my hair, lots of acne, and overweight. Since then I have lost 45 pounds, learned how to control and style my hair, my skin has cleared up, and I have a sense of style. But I still don’t get any attention from guys.
I want to believe what those boys said back then wasn’t true, but how can I believe that when no man looks my way? My heart yearns to have a husband to love and be loved by. But part of me feels hopeless. I often find myself trying to battle these thoughts, but I believe that unless a man loves me and tells me I’m beautiful, I won’t believe I am.
Even tonight I was out with some friends, and the guys started talking about what girls they find attractive, and I came home, sat on my bed, and started crying, feeling like I will never be one of those women men find attractive. I don’t know what to think. Knowing that I am created in the image of God should be reassuring enough for me, but I feel it isn’t. I feel heavy with sorrow. Please help!
I am so sorry for the pain you have suffered from the cruel words of your schoolmates. How long-lasting those wounds can be! It’s amazing the power of our minds to remember every insult — whispered or shouted — even those that go back decades. The evil one capitalizes on that pain, bringing them to mind when we’re weak, to tempt us to doubt God’s goodness. It’s essential, when our feelings start running away from us into sorrow, depression, self-pity and more, that we preach to ourselves. This is one of the best reasons to memorize Scripture — lots of it. When we “hide God’s Word in our hearts,” we’re filling up our arsenal of spiritual weapons for waging battle against the lies of the devil.
Ephesians 6 reminds us this is a spiritual battle. And for that, we need spiritual weapons. When we know what Scripture says by heart, the Holy Spirit brings truth to mind to combat the lies of Satan as well as those of our own hearts and minds.
If your friends are typical, they weren’t trying to hurt your feelings. They were probably just enjoying a self-centered conversation about what they find attractive, without thinking about how that would sound to you and others listening in. We all tend to be less thoughtful than we should be in social settings. How many nights I’ve lain awake replaying dumb things I said, wondering if I hurt my friends’ feelings and wishing I could take words back. Not everyone loses sleep over such things, however. And for such friends, Scripture exhorts us to give them grace.
Proverbs 19:11 says, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” Why? It’s a protection for your heart to let hurtful words slide off your back like water on the oily feathers of a duck. I know it’s not easy to do, but it is possible, or Scripture wouldn’t prescribe it as “good sense.” And because we live this side of the cross and Christ’s resurrection, for those who are trusting in Him and united with Him, we have the Holy Spirit’s power to help us. The more we marinate in God’s Word, the more we are able to think truthfully about ourselves.
How might a heart full of Scripture have helped in the midst of overhearing those guys’ conversation? You could have had an internal conversation with yourself and with the Lord something like this:
You: “I can’t believe how obtuse they are, saying those things in front of me. How am I supposed to feel? Are they that clueless?”
The Holy Spirit, through Scripture: “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is your glory to overlook an offense.”
You: “OK, Lord. You’re right. I’ve said dumb things before. Maybe even in this same conversation. Please help me see them as You do, to be full of the grace You’ve shown me. Thank You that You aren’t limited by the preferences of these few guys. Thank You that You make all sorts of men and all men have unique tastes in women. You can bring a man that finds me attractive. Please help me not be full of bitterness toward these men who seemingly don’t find me attractive. Help me to love them in their unattractiveness, even as I so long to be loved in mine.”
I can relate to the feeling of being overlooked because of looks. But often it is just that, a feeling. I often thought I was dateless till age 26 because I was overweight and not pretty enough. While it’s possible that may have been a reason the men in my life at any point weren’t asking me out, ultimately, getting married was a matter of God’s timing.
Yet, as you’ve noticed, not everyone looks the same. Some women are quite lovely on the outside, given what appears to be an unfair advantage in the looks category. What’s hard to imagine, however, is that everyone finds fault with how they look. Carolyn Mahaney’s helpful book True Beauty was a recent reminder to me of how true this is. She writes:
Another beautiful woman, actress Halle Berry, was the first African-American to represent the United States at the Miss World pageant. She has won numbers of beauty titles and acting awards. But what does Halle Berry think about her beauty? ‘Let me tell you something—being thought of as a beautiful woman has spared me nothing in life. No heartache, no trouble. Love has been difficult. Beauty is essentially meaningless and it is always transitory.’
The ugly truth is that because of sin, none of us are pleased with how God made us. I’ve been overweight, and I’ve been my ideal weight, and I’ve been dissatisfied with both. Add to that this short breath of a life and the knowledge that, as 2 Corinthians 4:16 says, “our outer self is wasting away,” and we have reason to be dismayed. But because Jesus came to take the punishment we deserve for our sin, to restore us to fellowship and relationship with God, when we believe in Him, as that verse goes on to say, “our inner self is being renewed day by day.” This is beauty that lasts.
If God wants you to marry, you will marry. Your looks are not a hurdle to Him. On the contrary, they’re what He designed you to have. He is the One who “knit you together in your mother’s womb” (Psalm 139). He made you precisely as you are, in His image and for His glory. Meditating on this can help you stop measuring yourself by other people and even by how many dates you have.
Like Leah in Genesis 29, we know the pain of being overlooked for lack of physical beauty. But we are not without hope. Like Leah, God sees the plight of His daughters who are not lovely by worldly standards. And by His grace, many, many of us marry. It’s simply not true that only the “beautiful people” (whatever that is!) get married. Go to the mall sometime and watch the people. All shapes and sizes and sorts of people marry.
You are young, and though you haven’t had any suitors yet, life is long. Should God bless you with many years, He may yet bless you with a husband. Don’t lose heart. But also, don’t make your external appearance your focus. And don’t make how the boys you know respond to you your focus. Instead, “set your mind on things above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2).
Jesus knows what it’s like to live alongside powerful, beautiful people and not be one of them. Isaiah prophesied of Him that “he [would have] no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him” (53:2). Jesus gave up all the glory of heaven — including all the beauty — to cloak His divinity in flesh and walk among us in order to suffer in our place. Among our sins that He took on himself is doubting, and sometimes despising, the way He made us. Oh, that we would remind ourselves daily of His humiliation for our sake, that we would behold His beauty and be satisfied with Him. This is a lifelong endeavor, but we must strive in the power of the Spirit to do it.
May we all be encouraged to such faithfulness in Him.
Copyright 2014 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.