Where does vanity start and finish?

I like myself. Not in a way I feel like qualifying. Not because I was hurting before, but now I’m not. I like myself because I like the person I have become, and am becoming. Why are those words so brazen? Is the only thing that separates pure and simple healthy self regard from vanity the specific person who reads my words? If you think that every young woman who likes herself is vain, where does that leave us? What about old women? Once I have grandchildren, can I like myself? By making what is and is not vanity as trite and shallow as what I have done to prove myself to the world and making humility look more like fear, I feel like this little question swims in a sea of gray area. What counts as vain? I mean, truly vain? Can liking myself be a gift I would also like to share with others? I want my health to set the tone for positive relationships and a family that is honest. If I say that bluntly, is it vanity?

Oh, I wish someone could tell me a straightforward answer. Are you vain if you care about others and cover your surface level faith basics? Because in making what is and isn’t vanity surface level, we also ignore that appearances can lie to us. In any of our days, we have moments that are insecure, somewhere in the middle, and outright selfish. Each human is a mixed bag of back and forth depending on loads of different factors. If I’m vain in this very moment and not in five minutes, am I vain? Or am I just another human that struggles to spit out the truth through my own imperfection and the wreckage it leaves? Am I vain if I like God more than myself? Can I love him more and still be vain? Wouldn’t that cut me off from others, and him also? Is it cause, effect, or both?

Why do we worry so much about young women’s vanity? I really do mean to single out young women on this one, because the world loves to dump its insecurity on us in particular. If you want to have a worrying contest, go to any college dorm and you’d find some fierce contenders. Of all the nonsense I’m supposed to care about, why encourage me to worry about my imperfection? I may be vain, but God is perfect. Even if my vanity is always with me, so will he be. I just don’t understand what is so valuable in deluding us young ladies. You can poison entire generations of families by passing on those insecurities, which is why I suspect its such a useful line of attack. But for real, I like myself, and God likes me. And if that is called vain, what about all the sources of media and regular spaces and attitudes in our daily lives that influence us and lie to us and help us buy into the idea that caring about what happens to your life is vanity? Surely those can be partners in crime. If there was a space and way for young women to belong to more than the lies, there certainly exists as one in Jesus. I just hate that double standards are our default setting, and it hurts me to see others beat themselves up more than they are able to focus on their relationship with God. Insecurity is a loud screaming voice in my ears, and by no means am I alone. I just know that God calls me loved and justified, and in him there is peace and less heartbreak. I look forward to the day the world understands.


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I am a second-grade teacher and pastor-to-be who loves people. I spend my weekends with friends or wandering the museums of DC alone and with a journal, trying to put words on the places of the soul that still feel wordless. I spent most of my days at school trying to learn patience through my students and running on sheer nerdy passion. I follow Jesus Christ, and savor that as my most important identity--that I am a child of God, as are infinite others, regardless of their other identities. Christ is my one thing.

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