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  • Writer's pictureJenni Lien

Why Fashion Magazines Were My Bibles (And How I Got Over It)

Jenni Lien of The Yay Project at Ritz Carlton Hong Kong looking at the view with a glass of champagne

Allow me to start this blog by telling you a short story about my first memory with Jesus. Three-year-old me was walking down the street with my mom when Jesus asked me what I was thinking. I shared that I wanted to make sure neither of my coat pockets felt more loved than the other. So I was timing exactly how long I had each hand in each pocket … if I had to take one hand out for five seconds to scratch my nose, I’d have to take the other hand out for five seconds too so it would be fair. Though I don’t remember if Jesus replied or not, I remember feeling loved, listened to, and cared for. I wanted to share this story to illustrate that even though I’ve always known that I’m a daughter of God, I spent many years distracted by worldly pleasures and it wasn’t until my late twenties that I looked to Him first to understand my identity.

Growing up, my ‘bibles’ of choice were … fashion magazines.

Namely Vogue and Elle. And Canada’s Fashion Magazine which used to have many wonderfully specific ‘How To’ guides in the early 2000s. As a young girl, these magazines gave me insight into exciting worlds that I wanted to be a part of. What to wear, where to shop, how to think … I absorbed it all and couldn’t wait to leave my suburban surroundings and create the life I wanted. Oh the hours I spent journalling up fashion magazine-inspired dream life scenarios as a teen. God is good and He sometimes blesses our desires even if they are selfish (I did indeed move to a cosmopolitan city immediately after university) but He teaches us lessons along the way.

Recently, I read this text from Joyce Meyer:

The world pressures us to fit into a certain image they approve of. They tell us what to wear, how much to weigh, how to style our hair, the level of education we need to be savvy, how to behave in every situation - the list goes on and on. Without it always being said, we are well aware that if we don’t fit into these molds and images, we will be unacceptable and, therefore, rejected. (Healing the Soul of a Woman, 2019, p. 76)

This helped me realize that maybe that’s why I was so obsessed with learning from fashion magazines. While it’s true that God made me a person that loves beauty and discovering new examples of it, my devotion to learning from them went deeper than that. I newly connected that love of glamour to a desire to understand what is acceptable from the world’s point of view, which stemmed from a fear of rejection that started when I was bullied in elementary school.

Over the past two years, God’s been gradually revealing a deep-seated fear of rejection to me through courses I’ve taken at church, books, and one specific download (and now the passage above). On the download, this past January I was lying on a couch and listening to worship songs when God showed me an image of myself as a five year old. I had been deeply hurt by a classmate who told the other girls in my class not to play with me. This I gathered was because I was the only non-Caucasian in my UK class and the only girl that didn’t wear jelly sandals which was always the topic of conversation at recess. As I saw the pain and confusion on my young face, I began to weep and feel the rejection; it’s an especially sharp pain when you’re rejected for just being yourself. But then God reminded me that He was always there and started to both heal me deeply and prepare me for an event that was to come.

Though the world may reject us sometimes, God never will. And just because we’ve had past experiences with rejection, it doesn’t mean we need to accept a ‘rejected’ identity. In fact, it’s the opposite of what God wants.

God promises us so many wonderful things including that we are loved, redeemed, and specially designed. He has a good plan for us and is always fighting for and on behalf of us. When we are hurt, we don’t need to seek justice for ourselves (in fact we’re told not to) because He will fight for us.

  • Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. (Psalm 136:1)

  • But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. (Isaiah 43:1)

  • For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

  • But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. (Matthew 10:30)

  • In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace. (Ephesians 1:7)

  • Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)

  • Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you. (Proverbs 20:22)

So who do I say I am now?

Jenni Lien of The Yay Project at Ritz Carlton Hong Kong looking at the view with a glass of champagne

I’m a daughter of the Lord Most High that’s finally learned to find my identity in Him first. In this season, there’s nothing I want more than to be in His presence and just wait for my daily bread. Sometimes I still journal out my dream scenarios but now they are grounded in His truth. And through it all, I know I can rest assured that He’s got me … He’s been watching over me my whole life. He feels every movement of my heart and cares about both my spoken and unspoken prayers. Though I’m not sure what the future will bring, I have confidence that it will be more than I can imagine because He is a good, good Father.


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