Grand Prize Winner - $1500 Scholarship

Name: Megan Howard
Age: 18
School: Homeschool, Canaan, IN

Winning Essay

I love writing. I love the opportunity to speak from my heart about things that matter to me, and the Theology of the Body matters deeply to me. A few years ago, my church youth group began to study the Theology of the Body for Teens. It was as if God was speaking directly to me. I read the entire student workbook within a few short days and within a few weeks I was back to read it again. Since then I have read it through several times and discover something new every time. God used this as a doorway in my life, a doorway into a greater mystery than I could ever imagine. It has transformed my life in so many ways. It has changed the way I see myself, the world, and my relationship with God. This is why I do not understand why words are eluding me. I have spent a lot of my time lately staring at a blank piece of paper in the hopes of some revelation, some way to put into words how important this is to me. I suppose that is why it is so difficult to write about. I have been transformed so completely that words seem incredibly insufficient. It may sound like I am being dramatic, and perhaps I am, but I must argue that this subject deserves a fair amount of drama. The future of our lives, our families, our country, and our world hang in the balance. The way we understand our sexuality defines how we understand our very selves. Which is why “How has the Theology of the Body impacted the way I see myself as a young woman in today’s culture?” is such a very relevant question.  How has it changed the way I see myself? I am a beautiful daughter of God.

Beautiful. Before discovering the Theology of the Body this is a word I would never have used to describe myself. Oh certainly I hoped I was, I longed for a beauty to unveil but deep within me something told me it wasn’t true. Lies had been presented to me by the Enemy and driven home by our culture and I had believed every one of them. I saw beauty in every woman I met but somehow the Enemy had struck so deeply at my heart that I believed I was the exception. Every woman was beautiful, but I wasn’t. I will not pretend that it was a lightning bolt revelation, and I will not pretend that I do not struggle with self-esteem anymore, because I do. However, there has been a drastic shift in the way I see myself. The things the Lord is revealing to me about my own beauty has been a slow process. It has been less like a flash flood and more like a dripping stream making a hole in my heart of stone. 

It all began with the Theology of the Body for Teens. It opened in me the possibility that I had some beauty to offer the world. John Paul II said, “The body, in fact, and it alone is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and divine. It was created to transfer into the visible reality of the world the mystery [of God]…and thus to be a sign of it.” This statement reveals something monumental. Our bodies are not something to be ashamed of, on the contrary, our bodies are used by God to show himself to the world! Really considering it gives me pause for thought. If my body is truly being used by God to show himself to the world, it is not ugly but rather it is radiantly beautiful! If my body is reflecting Christ it cannot, by definition, be anything but beautiful, for God is beauty itself. Upon consideration this makes perfect sense. In Genesis 1:27 it says, “God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.” As a Christian I’ve heard this verse hundreds of times. Unfortunately I must have skimmed over the truth when I was reading it. I could recite the verse by memory and yet it had not penetrated my heart. We are created in the image of GOD! There is nothing more beautiful than God. Staci Eldredge in her book “Captivating” argues, “Beauty is an essence that is given to every woman at her creation.” This concept is something entirely different than what our culture is telling us!

Over the past few years God has worked tirelessly at revealing my beauty to me in many other ways. He continued to drive it home to my heart over and over again, each time make the truth clearer and clearer. A song called “More Beautiful You” by Johnny Diaz goes like this:

“There could never be a more beautiful you
Don’t buy the lies disguises and hoops they make you jump through
You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do 
So there could never be a more beautiful you”

This song struck directly at my wound, healing it as if God were speaking directly to me. Every woman has a question that she wants answered. “Am I beautiful? “ So often as young Christian women, we are told that physical beauty isn’t important. It doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside as long as you are beautiful on the inside. While inward beauty is the most important thing, telling us that it doesn’t matter what we look like on the outside only tends to drive the lie even harder home and leaves our question unanswered. Because our question is answered not with “Yes, you are beautiful” but with “It doesn’t really matter” we assume that we are not beautiful. But that is not what God is telling us at all! He is saying you are beautiful! In a lecture by Fr. John Myers I attended, he said we have to have the ability to stand up and say, “I am beautiful; I am a daughter of God.” The teachings of the Theology of the Body started a landslide in my heart that gave me the courage to say, “I am beautiful; I am a daughter of God.”

I know this was supposed to be about how Theology of the Body has transformed my life, and it was. But I also included songs, books, lectures, and quotes and that is for a reason. It seems to me that when God really wants us to know something he does not just show us once and say, “This is important, remember this.” He knows us far to well to expect us to remember it from one encounter. Every day God is drawing me further into the mystery of his life and his love and he often does this in the most unexpected ways. So, how has the Theology of the Body impacted the way I see myself as a young women in today’s culture? The Theology of the Body has taught me the profound truth, that what I longed for was not only attainable, in fact, it was already attained. I am His and I am beautiful.