Friday, February 27, 2015

Beauty

"Children are beautiful largely because they don't know it yet. A young girl is fascinated by the world, not trying to fascinate others with how she looks. This lack of self-awareness is a gift from God and meant to be enjoyed." 
(an excerpt from True Beauty)




Navigating the waters of beauty in my own heart is a challenge. Teaching and being an example to my children on the subject feels daunting. I thought I was years off of needing to deal with it with, but I have learned that with all subjects, it's not a certain age they reach that opens up a new topic, but it's a constant training of them from the smallest comprehension. 
The girls watch me get ready and mimic me in the mirror. They ask to put on my blush or lipstick and they're already told from people that they are beautiful, without any understanding of what beauty means. I say it to them too over and over. I look at their little faces and my heart swells and I tell them how beautiful they are. But, then, I have to go back and define what it means to be beautiful.

I grew up being told I was thin. I was a very small child and as I started to grow I thought it was a part of who I was to be and stay extremely thin. What once was just who I was, now felt like something I had to maintain. I think back to that, little innocent words spoken, probably just an observation from most people, not realizing what an impact it had on me. It's a reminder how impactful words are and the need for me to practice caution in talking and teaching my children.



I recently read, True Beauty and thought it was one of the best books I've read on the subject. I've heard so many things trying to make us feel good about how we look, but most of the time they leave me feeling empty. This time, I was hit for the first time, that my looks, like everything else in my life, isn't about me. It's about God's glory. He created me to look this way for a specific purpose, for his glory. It might not match the worlds standard of beauty, or I might have a list of things I would change if I could, but when I do that I loose sight of eternity and my purpose. 

The authors articulate some wonderful truths, "Sincere Christians often take this a step further. You are beautiful just the way you are because God made you and he thinks you are beautiful. If you believe this is true you will feel better about yourself, the thinking goes." I've been told this, and I'm sure I've said it, but in the end it wasn't a truth that satisfied. Eventually, I still ended up feeling less than. There are important truths in the statement, but it needs to go further, "So, God is beautiful and made us in his image, becomes, You are beautiful because God created you. Herein lies the flaw in the advice commonly given: It starts and ends with us." 

"God made us for his glory. We were created to worship, delight in, and bring glory to our beautiful God. He made us for this very end, to think and be astonished at his glorious perfections."

"I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God's thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest, and most precious thing in all thinking." 

But, I wrestled with the balance, if it's all about God's glory, where do cute clothes and lipstick fit in. They address this wonderfully, but I ask myself, is how I'm presenting myself a reflection of God's creative and beautiful design?



Thursday, February 5, 2015

Be Still, My Soul



It's not often sung, written in 1752, but this was one of my mom's favorite Hymns. It became one of my favorites, just because it was hers and once she was gone I clung to anything and everything that held a memory of her. Her birthday is tomorrow and this year she'll be gone for 21 years. When She first past I hated that time didn't stop. People asked me how long she'd been gone and each year that past it was harder for me to say, they acted like because time past it didn't hurt so much. I learned to avoid the topic and accept that this pain is something understood by very few, but found great comfort in the fact God knew it and cared intimately about it. 

Yesterday I pulled a new book off the shelf, Then Sings My Soul. It's a book of hymns and the stories behind them. I was flipping the pages and landed on this one. This year I learned that the doctors had told her she only had 3-5 years when they found the cancer. I guess that's not information you tell a 6 year old and I never knew it before now, so this was the first time reading this hymn with that knowledge. It changed it for me. Seeing the words that she sang knowing she was going to die made me feel like I know her even better now and my love and respect grows deeper for her, even after 21 years of her being gone. 

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side. Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain. Leave to thy God to order and provide. In every change He faithful will remain. Be still my soul; Thy best Thy heavenly Friend Thro' thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul; Thy God doth undertake to guide the future as He has the past. Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake; All now mysterious shall be bright at last. Be still my soul; the waves and winds still know His voice Who ruled them while he dwelt below.

Be still my soul; The hour is hastening on when we shall be forever with the Lord, when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone. Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored. Be still my soul; when change and tears are past, all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

It wasn't easy to hear her diagnosis and I know she did everything she could possibly do to beat it. But I also know that she came to a place of trust and acceptance of God's plan. I know she bore this cross patiently and trusted that God would be faithful not just to her, but to provide for her children's needs. He guided her past and would guide our futures and that some day our purest joy would be restored and we would meet at last. 


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