Dani Mathers, the 2015 Playboy Playmate of the Year, is in trouble. She is facing possible jail time.
In July, 2016, she accidentally posted publicly on Snapchat a selfie in which she feigns shock next to a surreptitiously taken photo of a nude elderly woman showering in the locker room of an LA Fitness exercise center. “If I can’t unsee this then you can’t either,” she posted.
The public reaction was swift and brutal. About the nicest thing said was, “Shame on you for body-shaming a woman who should be applauded for caring about her physical health!”
Mathers quickly deleted the photo, and issued several apologies:
In those apologies she said, among other things:
“That is not the type of person I am.”
When Annette and I saw the story, our reaction was:
Well yes, Ms. Mathers, that is exactly the type of person you are. It was a rude and shameful thing to do, regardless of whether you sent the photo and message publicly or only as “part of a personal conversation with a girlfriend,” as you originally intended.
The good news, however, is that you don’t have to keep being that type of person.
Seeing who we are is the first step
Mathers does seem to be genuinely sorry for what she did. In her apologies, she said, “I have never done this before, I will never do this again. You have my word.”
And that is good. The most important part of being truly sorry for our wrong actions is to commit ourselves to never repeating them because we recognize that they are wrong.
But when Mathers says, “That is not the type of person I am,” she is fooling herself. And she’s making it harder for herself not to be that type of person.
You see, our words and actions come from the person we are. And sometimes they show us things about ourselves that we would rather not see. Sometimes, when we are blind to our own character flaws and they slip out into public view, as happened with Ms. Mathers, we are forced to look at parts of our own character that we would rather avoid.
That, too, is good. Seeing exactly who we are as a person right now is the first step.
Another way of saying this is that if we don’t see the ugly parts of ourselves, we can never develop our beauty.
The first step in developing physical beauty is to assess the current state of our body. This tells us what we need to work on.
In the very same way, the first step in developing spiritual beauty is to assess the current state of our character. When we discover parts of ourselves that are really rather ugly, it tells us what we need to work on.
It would be better for Mathers to honestly admit, “That is the type of person I am.” Recognizing this, she could then honestly apologize for the ugliness of character that she showed by her actions, and commit herself to overcoming that ugliness and developing beauty of character.
How to develop beauty
Developing health and beauty, whether physical or spiritual, starts with seeing, recognizing, and acknowledging the parts of our body or of our spirit that don’t match our goals and ideals for ourselves.
This means both setting realistic goals and recognizing where we haven’t yet met those goals.
For example, if we want to reach our best body weight for our height and body type, we must first:
- Consult standard health references to determine what our weight should be, and:
- Weigh ourselves on an accurate scale to determine what our body weight actually is.
This tells us just how much weight we need to lose. We can then start on a diet and exercise regimen to achieve our goals. Once we have achieved them, we can stick with a healthful diet and exercise regimen to maintain our body at the goals of weight and general health that we have set for ourselves.
In the very same way, if we want to develop beauty of character, we must first:
- Adopt and develop a standard of inner beauty for ourselves, and:
- Assess our current character and determine what we are actually like as a person right now.
This tells us how much “weight” of inner ugliness we are currently carrying around in our psyche. We can then engage in a regimen of a healthful diet for our mind and heart, and of exercising our ability to speak and act in more kind and thoughtful ways.
Spiritual diet and exercise
Diet and exercise apply just as much to our spirit as they do to our body.
A healthful diet for our mind and heart consists of learning what it means to be a person of beautiful character.
There are many sources for a healthful spiritual diet. Here are just a few:
- We can read inspirational and self-help books.
- We can watch videos about how to develop ourselves as person.
- We can listen to our friends, co-workers, teachers, and even our boss when they tell us what we’ve said or done that is problematic, and how we could do better.
- And of course, if we belong to a religious congregation, we can learn from our spiritual leaders and from the sacred literature of our religion.
If we want to develop beauty of character, we must feed our mind and heart with a regular diet of new understanding, wisdom, and yes, love. Because in addition to feeding our minds, we must also feed our hearts by accepting and sharing the love of our family, our friends, and the good people we see and meet each day.
As we feed our minds and hearts in this way, we must also commit ourselves to a regimen of exercising our abilities to be thoughtful, kind, and loving.
What does that mean?
It’s really very simple:
- It means committing ourselves to saying things that are good and true, rather than lying to ourselves and others, complaining about everyone and everything, and generally spewing a lot of toxic substances out of our mouths.
- And it means committing ourselves to treating other people with kindness and thoughtfulness, and serving other people in good, practical, and helpful ways in our job, at home, and when we’re out and about in the community, whether that community is local or virtual.
In short, exercising to develop beauty of character means practicing beauty of character every day in our words and actions.
Getting over the hump
This can be a lot harder to do in reality than it sounds on paper.
When we are physically unhealthy—living on junk food and being couch potatoes—it can feel like the hardest thing in the world to start eating more healthfully and to get ourselves up off our duff and start exercising regularly.
But really, the hardest part is just getting going in the first place.
An automobile uses considerably more fuel when accelerating from a stopped position than it does when it’s cruising along the road at a constant speed. In the very same way, it takes a lot more energy and effort of will to initially get ourselves going toward a more healthful life than it does when we’ve reached the “cruising speed” of our new and more healthful way of living.
So keep in mind, as you drag yourself off the sofa to actually cook some good food, or to get out for a brisk walk or for a whirl on the elliptical machines at the local gym, that it gets better and easier than it is right now. Once you get over the initial hump, you’ll find your own cruising speed. And before long you’ll be wondering why you didn’t do this a lot sooner.
Developing inner, spiritual beauty works the very same way.
At first, when we realize with a shock that we really aren’t as good and beautiful a person as we thought we were, it’s tempting to throw up our hands say, “Forget it! This is just too depressing!” and give up before we even get started.
That’s exactly when we need to assure ourselves that the first few steps will the hardest, and after that it will get easier.
- It may seem impossible to actually pick up that self-help book and start reading it. But once we do start reading, the hardest part is already behind us. From that point onward, we just have to keep on going.
- It may seem impossible not to spew out our usual streams of complaints at all of the latest awful stuff, and instead look for something good that someone has said or done, and say “Thanks! I appreciate that!” But once we actually start doing it, we find that not only is it not so hard, but it’s actually much more satisfying and enjoyable than all of our old anger and bitterness.
You see, the point of our life on earth is to grow into the best person we can be. When we pass on to the spiritual world, our character and direction will be set. We will remain the same person that we became here, and we will keep going in the same direction on our spiritual journey that we set for ourselves here on earth.
Spiritual growth takes practice and discipline. In the early stages, our inner self may not match our outer expressions of kindness. Even if we’ve learned to be kind and polite most of the time, we may feel very differently toward people within ourselves. And we may not feel like expending the effort to develop real love and patience for our fellow human beings.
But every once in a while, when we say or do something really mean or stupid, we may realize with a shock exactly why we need to expend that effort on developing our spiritual beauty.
If we do expend that effort, and persevere in our efforts, before long we will find that our expressions of kindness are becoming truly genuine on the inside. We will not only act kind and polite, we will be kind and polite. And though nobody’s perfect, we won’t say and do really mean and stupid things quite so often. That’s because instead of feeling superior to others, or jealous or angry or mean or spiteful, our inner thoughts and impulses will be mostly about how we can give others help, comfort, joy, and happiness.
And as I said earlier, our words and actions come from the person we are. When we develop our inner spiritual beauty, it shows in our words and actions.
Dani Mathers has a choice—and so do we
For Dani Mathers, it probably feels much easier to tell herself, and to try to convince the world, “That is not the type of person I am.” It would feel much harder for her to admit to herself, “Yes, that is the type of person I am,” and to do the hard work of overcoming that inner ugliness and developing her spiritual beauty.
And though it’s easy for us to join the mob and dump on Dani Mathers, the body-shaming beauty, don’t we all have the very same problem, each in our own way?
We all have our ugly parts. Sometimes those ugly parts break out into the open, as they did for Dani Mathers, and we feel the real shock of just how ugly we are, and can be, as a person.
When that happens to us, we have a choice to make.
- Will we justify ourselves, make excuses, and claim, “That’s not who I am”?
- Or will we recognize that that is who we are . . . and do the work required not to be that type of person anymore?
For each one of us, the choice is ours.
If we choose to put ourselves on a healthful regimen of spiritual diet and exercise, we can develop a beauty that does not fade as our physical body ages, but grows only more beautiful and lovely with the passing years.
And that is a beauty we can take with us to eternity.
For further reading:
- Paula Deen’s Secrets: The Inner Self Revealed
- Repentance: The Unpopular Partner of Forgiveness
- It’s not fair that God made some people incredibly beautiful, and others just average!
- Will My Body be the Right Weight and Appearance in the Afterlife?
- What does Jesus Mean when He Says we Must be Born Again?
- Heaven, Regeneration, and the Meaning of Life on Earth
Great post Lee! A verse comes to mind:
The [intrinsically] good man produces what is good and honorable and moral out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart; and the [intrinsically] evil man produces what is wicked and depraved out of the evil [in his heart]; for his mouth speaks from the overflow of his heart
From my own life experience, I have in the past been involved with ‘locker room talk’. I always thought it was harmless banter but on closer inspection, my heart was actually filled with misogynistic thought.
Until I had personally introspected my issues with misogyny, my heart would occasionally slip out its true opinion in the midst of unguarded conversation.
And this is where the bible says that every evil thought must be made captive in one’s own mind first.
2 Corinthians 10:5
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Thanks for your thoughts, and for the Bible verses. Glad you enjoyed the article! I suspect we’ve all had similar experiences in one form or another.
allow me to post a bit of a criticism. On the one hand, I understand what the article is about and in essence, I do agree with it. However, to me, it comes across as a bit judgemental. I do not think what Mathers did was right, it was not. However, I do not think it is our right to judge a person on a single action, either.
As it stands, we have no idea what her beliefs or morals are. We could guess, but that is all we could do. Maybe her most prominent action was a bad one, but she may have also done good in her life, which we do not know about. Judging a being as complex as a human being on one action seems a bit hasty. And ultimately, are you not doing a somewhat similar thing as she did, only you point at her apparent inner ugliness?
Mind you, this is not supposed to be an attack on you, Lee. Neither do I think that you had any malicious intention. However, I felt the need to touch on this point in general and hopefully it will lead to a constructive discussion.
Thanks for your comment, and for the challenge.
Of course, neither you nor I nor anyone else but God can judge the spiritual state of another person. It’s hard enough even to evaluate our own spiritual state. I don’t know what Ms. Mathers’s beliefs are, nor do I know what direction she is going in spiritually.
However, we not only can, but must judge the actions of other people. Otherwise we will be blind in moving through human society and human relationships—and that can cause all sorts of serious problems. Further, part of judging the actions of other people is drawing reasonable conclusions about the character and motives behind those actions. This, too, is a necessary part of navigating human society and human relationships. If we didn’t have the ability to do this, we would open ourselves and our loved ones up to potential targeting and abuse by all sorts of predatory people.
In short, though we cannot judge the spiritual state of any person (whether they’re going to heaven or to hell), we can and must judge not only their actions, but the likely character and motives behind their actions. If we couldn’t do this, human society would quickly disintegrate.
It’s true that we could be wrong about a person’s true character. And it is always good to be willing to change our judgment if further events warrant it. But the general rule is, “You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-20).
Our assessment of Ms. Mathers is based on what she did:
We (Annette and I) simply can’t see any analysis of Ms. Mathers’s actions that doesn’t point to a serious flaw in her character that would lead her to break so many rules of basic decency, not to mention violating the rules of the gym and also the laws of the state she lives in. That is the basis of our conclusion that that is the sort of person she is, contrary to her statements in her apology videos.
This is not a condemnation of Ms. Mathers. We all have our character flaws. That is the human condition. Rather, it is an assessment. Obviously, she may disagree with our assessment, or she may ultimately agree with it. In either case, the choice of how to move forward is in her hands. And she can make a better and more informed choice, and move forward in a more solidly positive direction, if she makes an honest assessment of herself rather than trying to avoid and deny uncomfortable truths about herself.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter how we judge Ms. Mathers’s actions and character. It matters that she is honest in her judgment of herself, and commits herself to correcting any flaws she may find in her own character and motives.
And as discussed in the article, when we find ourselves saying and doing wrong, hurtful, and even shameful things, that is a neon sign pointing us to flaws in our own character that we need to see, admit, face, and overcome.
Thanks for the comment, Lee.
I like it very much that you said that while we should not judge the spiritual state of a person, we should judge actions. After I posted the question above, I asked myself how the law enforcement handles it. They judge your actions and punish you according to it.
This appeared logical to me, so I agree about judging actions.
Where things become slippery for me is whether we can conclude the spiritual state of a person according to his actions. Better be safe than sorry, I suppose. I really need to be mindful not to be too trusting, but I prefer to try and see the good in someone as opposed to be bad.
You’re welcome. I would add that law enforcement and the courts also consider character and motive at various stages of the process of identifying, charging, convicting, and sentencing lawbreakers who have committed serious crimes such as murder.
About concluding the spiritual state of people according to their actions, the most we can say is, “If they are inwardly what they appear to be outwardly, then they are going to hell (or heaven).” But we can’t actually be sure that they are inwardly what they appear to be outwardly. It is a complex situation in which hereditary and environmental influences over which people have no control can drive people to words and actions that they haven’t really chosen in a state of freedom. And we are held spiritually accountable only for what we choose in a state of freedom.
For an article that goes into some of these issues in more depth, please see: “Can Gang Members Go to Heaven? (Is Life Fair?)” See also the related article, “Lee Boyd Malvo: Human Justice vs. Divine Justice.”
What do I think? I think this world is a harsh, miserable place. I think that God should give people an option to not live. I’m not going to be a “kind and loving person” when life isn’t that way to me. But the idea that someone after suffering this world gets an eternity of more suffering is obscene. God either hates me or is indifferent. Or not there at all.
As I’ve said to you a number of times before, I am very sorry you feel that way. And I do not agree with your view of God, of this world, or of the nature of the afterlife.
However, it is clear to me that you are suffering from some sort of major depression, which is coloring your view of everything a very dark shade of black. That is not something I can really help you with through this blog. I would strongly urge you to seek out a local pastor, counselor, or confidante with whom you can work through your inner struggles in person. God does not hate you, nor is God indifferent to your struggle and pain. But if you hate yourself and your own life, you yourself must reach out and get the help you need to overcome that self-loathing and hatred of life, or at least to battle it to a truce so that you can move on with your life.
I sense that you are facing a choice of life or death. I sincerely hope you will get the help you need to make the choice for life rather than for death.
My problem is sleep. For whatever reason I don’t get rested, even with the therapy prescribed to me. My doctor last told me, “we’ve tried everything I can think of”….
Whatever depression I have would be remarkably lessened if I could wake up rested everyday. A trip around the web will reveal how devastating sleep problems can be. After all, sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture, for good reason. But coming up on my third year of this with no hope in sight is pushing me towards what may be my only solution. I might have to chance it with the afterlife thing. This is not psychological issue, its a physiological issue. I peruse several suicide boards and there are those who are just depressed, and there are those who suffer physical problems, some extreme. God should just let us go, not revive us in some world where we can suffer more. Its just not right.
Yes, sleep deprivation is a terrible thing. I’m sorry to hear that your doctor has not been able to help you with it. That, too, is not the sort of thing I can help you with through the blog, unfortunately. I would only encourage you to keep looking for answers and solutions, even if they may be outside the usual therapeutic approaches. Has your doctor been able to pinpoint any cause or causes for your inability to get restful sleep?
I realize you can’t help me; I just get angry when I read things about God’s that purports he is “good.” I can’t help but to truth-bomb. God loves suffering, that’s why there is so much of it.
My doctor said “we’ll we’ve tried everything” so I don’t think I’m going to get anymore help from him. Going to a doctor is like going to a casino. No, I have to ride this miserable life out to the end, so God will have his fill of my suffering. Of course then my sufferings are only beginning. What level of hell do you think I will be in? The one where people are ground by the millstone? I can hope for a milder hell, but I don’t think so. I just don’t understand why the God can’t put people out of their misery, like people do with wounded animals. Instead he keeps us alive so the suffering can continue.
If, as you say, you are facing serious unresolved physiological issues such that you cannot get proper sleep, much of what you are thinking and feeling is perfectly understandable. And God understands that too. Several of the Old Testament prophets, not to mention David, the Psalmist, railed against God in their pain and agony of soul, and God did not turn against them.
From everything you have written in your comments so far, I see no reason whatsoever that you would be in any level of hell at all in the afterlife. Instead, you seem to be slogging through your own personal hell right now. Hence your feeling that you will be in hell in the afterlife.
But in the afterlife, physiological problems and dysfunctions are taken away, whether purely mechanical, such as injury, blindness, or paralysis, or brain-related issues that affect one’s thinking and feeling mind. Nothing, not even depression, despair, and anger, that is primarily the result of physical-body problems will affect whether we go to heaven or to hell. And the default destination is always heaven, not hell.
Looking at your situation from the outside, I’m not very concerned that you will end out in hell in the afterlife. I’m much more concerned that you have an unresolved physiological issue that is making your life hell right here on earth.
I would encourage you to keep looking for answers, even if it means casting your net wider, and even if it means going beyond regular Western medicine.
First, if your doctor is not a sleep specialist, it would behoove you to seek out someone who specializes in sleep issues. If your doctor is a sleep specialist, and cannot do anything for you, you could seek out another one who is a regular medical doctor, and may have different approaches that your current doctor does not. Also, as I said earlier, if your doctor has given you any type of diagnosis that gives you information on exactly where your problem lies, that can be helpful in seeking out solutions.
If regular Western medicine simply isn’t helping you, I would suggest that you consider other possibilities such as acupuncture, homeopathy, herbal medicine, hypnosis, meditation, diet adjustment, and so on. Most of these have little risk associated with them, because they are fairly benign forms of treatment. For the most part, the greatest risk is simply that they won’t work. And though as you know, continually not finding help for your problem is in itself frustrating and emotionally painful, the worst thing to do is to give up altogether and stop trying. I suspect that there is a solution for you out there somewhere, if you can just find it. And that will happen only if you persist in your search, and are willing to look places that go beyond your usual ways of thinking.
As the biblical saying goes, seek and you shall find.
Keep banging on different doors, and eventually one will open. Don’t stop until you find the right one.
I don’t have the money to go doctor shopping or to seek unconventional treatment. I’m stuck with this, and I’m convinced that either God doesn’t care or he likes suffering. Why else is there so much of it? God loves our suffering; its a sweet savor unto the Lord. And he won’t leave us alone after we die; he has to keep us alive through a miracle so we can suffer endlessly. I hate God.
God isn’t the one who put you in that position. But if you choose to have those feelings about God, there isn’t anything I can do about it. I will only say that blaming God isn’t going to help your situation.