Saturday, May 23, 2015

When Fear Overwhelms Us: {Stay in the Light}

Nothing makes me lose more sleep than worry. All the 'what ifs' come crashing into my consciousness, flooding my mind with the worst imaginable scenarios. Imagination is a good thing, but sometimes it can take us down a path of doubt and mistrust.

When this is how my morning started out, it was hard to go back. And rest. It didn't help that I got lost on the way to meeting some friends. With no GPS, I had no other alternative, but to try to figure out how to get there.

Sometimes church signs can be a little cheesy, but lately they've have been pretty spot on. To my right was a brick church with white steeple and in big block letters, the sign read,

Are you lost? Jesus is the way.

Yeah. I sure was lost. 

Being caught behind a train, I had time to call my husband to Google Map my location for me.

Sure enough, I was heading in the right direction, but it was too late to meet my friends.

Was I being protected from something like a car accident or was this some sort of discipline for my wayward mind? I didn't know. All I knew was that I felt so far from God. Like an orphan, just trying to survive.

I could have spent the rest of the day feeling sorry for myself or wallowing in disappointment, but in the back of my mind there was a song. Waiting for me to be still. And listen.   

In the confines of my own vehicle, the song kept playing on and on, not on the radio, but in my heart. And, the moment my mouth opened, and I sang along and praised God in the midst of my disappointment, sunlight literally shot through the clouds and landed on my upturned hand. The fingers of God. The rest of the way home, I felt its warmth. His warmth.

Jesus is the way. To peace.

Peace with God. Peace with ourselves. Peace with others. Peace in all our circumstances. 

It didn't matter to me anymore that I missed my meeting. God loves me. No matter what. And for that I will sing forevermore.

"Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6

I returned to the church a few days later to snap this photo. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

{True Beauty}: When a Girl Feels She Doesn't Measure Up

Magazines. You see them everywhere you go. Even in the bathroom. Then there's billboards. Internet ads. Movies. T.V. All with flawless people.

These are the people our society holds up as the golden standard of beauty. And, none of us are able to attain it perfectly.

Sure, we try. But, in the end. When the make-up is off and the shower is on, we see our flaws. 

Living in a culture focused on disproportionate figures and airbrushed faces how can we ever measure up? We are on an infinite quest to find beauty products to quell our insecurities. And it's never enough. Does that mean we're never enough?

When I was a teen, it seemed like my nose grew before the rest of my body. I longed to be like the girls on the talk shows who would tell their story of woe. Not fitting in because their noses were too big and getting a free nose job in return. Sounds shallow I know, but I felt awful because my face was far from perfect. 

Looking at pictures from that time, I don't even see it anymore. But, I sure felt it then. 

Being middle-aged is not much easier. It's a temptation to try to turn back the hands of time (if that were possible). And, erase the lines that tell our age. Or keep up an endless exercise regimen tirelessly trying to lower our BMI and give us that figure we desire.

 If we look good on the outside does that mean everything is okay on the inside?

The times I've struggled the most with my self-image are the times I was trying hardest to look my best. 

This is the world I am raising daughters in.

How I wish I could shield them from the onslaught of insecurity that will come at them as they become women. 

All I can do is pray for grace and be an example of what it means to rest in who I am. Not that I've done this perfectly, but I am learning.

Learning to rest.

To abide.

To know I am loved.

And, by God's grace, I am flawless.

How is this possible? Not only do I have blemishes on the outside, but I still sin. I do the things I don't want to do and don't do the things I know I should do (Romans 7:15).

Because of Christ, I am not condemned (Romans 8:1-4). Because Jesus took my place, being condemned as a sinner on the cross, He took all my sin and gave me His flawless record and His Holy Spirit now dwells in me. 

I'm not only okay to God, but I've been raised up to the level of His Son in righteousness.

He's given me a beauty no amount of make-up could ever attain to. When I am resting in Him, I am loving, joyful, at peace. 

I have His beauty.

In a culture that is figure focused and infinitely insecure, what part of us should we really desire to be flawless?

Our hearts.

Not neglecting to take care of the body, but also not making it the inordinate focus of our lives. We already have a myriad of idols begging for our attention, our focus.

Christ raised the bar for true beauty. The crossbeam. By submitting to the rescue plan that would save us.

Why not focus on Him. His sacrificial love for us. And loving Him in return by sacrificial loving the world. Putting others' needs before our own. Doing the hard, right things in the divine power that comes from seeking, focusing on Christ.

Change may not come right away. But, it will come. And, one day when we look in the mirror, we won't just see ourselves. In those gentled eyes and caring smile, we'll see His beauty.

"You are altogether beautiful, my love;

    there is no flaw in you."

Song of Solomon 4:7