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I’m the kind of person who doesn’t worry.

Instead, I PANIC.

This week, I woke up and decided it was high time for some panicking.

Just kidding. But really, I did panic.

It was like for so long I (and we) have been in the dramatic upheaval of marriage and missionary training and moving and starting out support raising that I didn’t have time to panic, only to keep my head above water.

But slowly, things have settled. We’ve unpacked our things. We bought a comforter. Our rings became less shiny and our stuff less new and our marriage less novel, and suddenly I wasn’t just surviving.

And when I finally had enough time to stand and look around, I panicked. Not just panicked, but PANICKED. Like, freaking out, crying, full-blown angry-thrashy-sweaty-nightmare-filled sleep panicked.

Like a child who suddenly realizes they’ve swum into the deep end on accident, I’ve lost my footing. Spluttering, choking, gasping for breath.

How are we ever going to do this? Missionaries? What were we thinking? Really. There are people far smarter, far better, far more spiritual and qualified for this than us. Trust me, we went through training with them.

But here we are. With the title “Missionary” on our marriage license and our tax forms. Doing just that.

But for some reason, God chose us for this. I definitely don’t always appreciate it (last night as we were getting ready for bed, I told Clay that I really wish God could have chosen to make us something more stable, like an office-worker or full-time vacation-taker. He told me the first one isn’t all that stable and the second one doesn’t exist. Dang.) But I know we’re right where we’re supposed to be.

And honestly, it’s a scary place to be. I wish I could say that I wasn’t scared, that I was trusting God completely, that I was at peace. But I’m not. But I’m getting there.

Every day I wake up, I’m dragging these reluctant feet a few more steps, urging this stubborn heart to soften just a little bit more. I’m getting there. I am. I’m just slower than you might expect.

“I believe I will look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13)

I have clung to this verse like it is life itself. To me, it says so much. It says not only will I see the goodness of the Lord, but that I will see it in the land of the living. Did you catch that? I won’t have to wait until heaven. I will see it here. Now.

Oh, that gives me so much hope!

To know that it’s not the interminable waiting. To know that I’m not stuck on “this side of eternity”, a phrase to me that sounds like being a toddler stuck behind the baby gate, watching all the fun happening in the other room.

To know that I can, right now, in this place, in this situation, experience his goodness, no matter how scared or small or insufficient I feel.

I love that. I need that.

I BELIEVE I will look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of living. In the land of missionary support raising. In the land of newly-married-ness. In the land of Columbus, Ohio (aka far, far away from the ministry and the students I love.) In this land, right here, today.

I believe I will.

I believe.

 

 

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It is exalting, delicious, to stand embraced by the shadows of a friendly tree with the wind tugging at your coattail and the heavens hailing your heart, to gaze and glory and give oneself again to God – what more could a man ask? Oh, the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on earth! I care not if I never raise my voice again for Him, if only I may love Him, please Him…if only I may see Him, touch His garments, and smile into His eyes…

-Jim Elliot. 

Oh, Lord. That I might enjoy the sheer exhilarating beauty of being a creature on this earth that knows and loves her Creator. 

Just another untitled poem from my journal.  I hope it resonates with you.

So this is life….

Trying to count all my gains as losses,
I keep picking up different crosses,
trying on every single one
but my own.

Is this all I’ll ever be?
Bruised shoulders, calloused hands, blistered feet,
rising
rising
rising
from imagined defeat.

Wanting so badly to be
the first of the last.
Beautiful, quiet, gentle,
the model of humility.
A desire born of pride and greed.
Oh, is this all I’ll ever be?

This is not what you meant me to be.
I struggle so deeply with wounds
both real and imagined,
it’s hard to think back
to how it all happened.

Do I really want to be what they call “godly”?
Part of me says “No” and part says “yes”.
Oh, this is a civil war between
spirit and flesh.

Each day, each hour, each minute,
I have to choose,
and I pray to God that it won’t be the one
I’m bound to lose.

For we all agree
death is certain.
I see my body decay
day by day.
Oh, dear lord, how the years get away!

This is what I’m meant to be,
yearning this side of eternity
for my Jesus,
and the world as it should be.

I really wrestled with whether or not to post this, simply because it is so personal and vulnerable. After sleeping on it and getting it proof-read, I finally decided that it would be worth it to post it, because of this – in the past few days, I have noticed a trend among my friends in our conversationsAs women, we have a few similar desires. We want to be loved. We long to feel beautiful. We ache to know that we are worth it. But everything in this world is fighting against us, trying to distract us from what will ultimately fulfill those desires. It’s good to be reminded of the truth. So, here it goes.

Sometimes, life is really hard.

Maybe it’s being in a secular college setting, or maybe it’s taking a tough double-major course-load, or maybe it’s just life. But sometimes, it’s really hard – I feel lonely. I long for love. I battle with myself as I fight the temptation to attract inappropriate attention to myself with the way I dress. I want to be beautiful.

But, in times like this, it is wonderful to come to the Lord and be in His presence.

To come to him and remember first knowing Jesus as my savior, and recalling how his perfect love finally filled that hole in my heart.  Remembering how, for the first time in my life, I didn’t feel alone.  When my longing to love and be loved finally had a place in which to be fulfilled.

To counter the lies with the Truth, and realize that I am so desirable and so worthwhile that Jesus suffered and died and bore the wrath of God’s sin for me – even as my rebellious soul hated him and wandered.

To read his Word and realize that I am already wanted. I am already being pursued.  And nothing I can wear or do will ever change that.

To come to the Scriptures, and hear the words “You are beautiful, because I am beautiful,” whispered between the lines on every page.  The message ingrained in between every word in a book that describes a God so mighty that he could create the vibrant cosmos out of nothing, move the mountains with his hands, tell the sea to calm with his voice. A book that describes the same God working every moment of history to bring his people to him, to save them. To know them personally. To love them intimately.

To come to realize that in Jesus, I have everything that I long for – A man who stands in front of me, with more love in his eyes than every man in all the world – past, present, and future combined – could ever muster, and thinks more than “Wow,”.  He thinks, “Yes. This one is mine. I formed her before she was born.  I watched her as she grew.  I predestined her to know and love me.  And on the day that she came into my arms, I and all of heaven lept with joy.  Yes.  This one is mine.  Forever.”

On days like this, I am speechless. What words can describe a love like this? He is good.

Confession: When I look in the mirror, all too often, instead of thinking “Look at that daughter of God, physically formed just as He intended for the purpose of His glory,” I think “Wow. I look really gross.”

Surprise, surprise – in this culture of tiny super-models and airbrushed ads, I am a woman with image issues.

I cannot tell you how long I’ve struggled. It seems forever. The list of flaws seems never ending – I weigh too much, my hips are too big, my nose too big and crooked, my skin marred by scars and acne. They are painful for me to even write out and post on the internet, because I want to hide them. Because, deep down inside, sometimes (not all the time) – I think I’m ugly.

But what a sin that is.  To believe that a perfect God, who formed me exactly how he wanted me, somehow made a mistake. To believe that I am anything less than a beautiful daughter of God, made radiant by finding my hope in the Lord and my salvation in Jesus – well, that’s just plain wrong.

But, like any sin, any wrong, it can be repented of and righted. I can agree with God that I am in the wrong – He can change my heart.  Make me focus less on myself, more on others. Look to Him, instead of myself.  Learn to love Him, instead of struggling to love myself.

Admittedly, this will not be easy. It may be years until I can accept that I am who God made me. There will be many more times when I think I am a mixed-up mistake – a girl that talks too much, laughs too loud, trips too often, forgets things, and is way too awkward. But “I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” (Phil 3:12)

I long to be beautiful. I hope that I will learn that when I glorify Him, I am beautiful, because He is beautiful. That is the truth I am trying to learn.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time” – Ecc 3:11

Recently, I’ve committed myself to memorizing Psalm 116.  Ok, I admit – I’ve done really horribly. It’s a 19-verse psalm and I’m on week three of memorization with exactly 16 of them memorized. I’m not very good at this whole memorizing thing. Anyway, I was attempting to memorize a little bit more today while in my 1st morning class, when I got bored and started scanning the page.  My eyes fell to psalm 115, specifically verses 4-8

 

Their idols are silver and gold

the work of human hands.

They have mouths, but do not speak;

eyes, but do not see.

They have ears, but do not hear;

noses, but do not smell.

They have hands, but do not feel’

feet, but do not walk;

and they do not make a sound in their throat.

Those who make them become like them;

so do all who trust in them.

Obviously, these verses are trying to illustrate a point about the people who worship idols.  When the psalm was written, the writer was obviously thinking about physical idols – statues of golden cows or something of the sort.  By now you’re probably thinking “idol worship, blah, blah, blah. I got it.” (I know Christians have beaten this point to death) but I promise – this is going somewhere!  I’ve heard all this before, I realize that idols are wrong, but what really got me was verse 8 – “Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.” WHOA! Hold on there.  What does that even mean? According my good old online version of the ESV Study Bible, it means, when taken in the literal context of the verse itself, it implies that those who make and worship idols will ultimately become as the described idols – unable to see, hear, feel, speak, etc. Lifeless and useless!

 

In 2009 however, we’re far less inclined to worship golden calves.   More likely, modern people worship idols that are a little less ostentatious in the way that the usurp God.  Money, power, fame, success, sex, beauty… the list goes on and on.  And as I was seeking more ways to avoid paying attention in class, I started thinking.  If people back in the good old days would become like their idols made of metal and stone, what would we become if we trusted in our modern idols?

 

Take money, for example.  What are the basic characteristics of money (beyond the physical)?  It’s fleeting, it can be destroyed just as quickly as it is made.  It is most often used by others to for personal gain, and it has absolutely no value other than what people assign to it.  On it’s own, it’s nothing more than pieces of paper.  Logically (I was doing this in Logic 120), it can be concluded then, that a person who worships money will ultimately become like his money.  Easily destroyed, used by other people, and of little value other than what people assign to him.  Does this sound familiar? (Think Enron).

What are the basic characteristics of fame?  It, too, is fleeting and fickle.  Just as fast as someone can become “something”, they can be made into “nothing”.  It is exhausting, never ending in its search for what is new and hot. It depends completely on the opinions of others.  It is self-serving, always searching for validation, and always has a vague air of desperation surrounding it.  Likewise, the person who worships fame can be made or destroyed in no time.  He becomes exhausted, always searching but never satisfied.  He becomes completely dependent on what everyone else says about him – if it is good, he is elated, if it is bad, he is crushed and is filled with despair and anger.  He becomes selfish, insecure, and constantly desperate.

 

What are the basic characteristics of beauty?  It is subjective, defined by the opinions of others and the fashions of the time.  It is never satisfied – no one can ever be beautiful enough.  There is always something to be done that can increase beauty.  It is vain and is sold as a commodity.  Maybe most importantly, it fades and eventually disappears, with time.  Likewise, the woman (or man) who worships beauty will become so.  She will be defined by opinions and fads, things that change so quickly she will never quite know who she is.   She will never be satisfied, always working for more beauty.  She will learn to sell herself out as a commodity, valued only for her physical beauty.  And once all of these things will established, when her beauty fades – so does she.  This woman who worshipped beauty will become an empty, faded shell of a person, not a trace left of the beauty that defined them.

 

To a non-believer, this situation looks pretty bleak.  No matter what we choose to worship (and it is just a matter of what. People will always worship something), we will eventually come to some form of ruin or unhappiness.  But what about if we choose to worship the one, true God?  What are the basic characteristics of God?  He is kind, loving, wise, gentle, merciful, joyful, gracious, generous, well-loved, and everlasting (among many other things)! You could even venture so far to say that he embodies many of the things that we choose to worship alone (in a distorted form, though) – Beautiful, powerful, famous.

 

In choosing to worship God, and his son Jesus, we will obtain these things for ourselves.  Everything that the world seems to so desperately long for (things that I used to long for, and still do sometimes) can be found when we turn to God and decide to worship Him.  This is what I wish the world could understand.

 

That’s about all for today.  I have an interview in about 15 minutes to see if I can get into the visual communications program here for a double major in Photojournalism.  Prayers would be appreciated! I’m sure I’ll have more material for to write about after this weekend ‘s famous Ohio University Halloween party.  In the mean time, God bless!

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Past Musings