Sunday, January 15, 2012

Beauty is more than skin deep...

It's almost impossible to pin-point the exact moment in our childhood when we view "beauty" as something that needs to be pursued and achieved despite the cost, pain or extravagance. All of us to varying degrees have felt society's pull in this way whether we have met the expectation, or accepted to live sub-par against these pressures, usually in bitter defeat. But, no matter what the resignation may be or how many "hocus-pocus" potion- lotions we use to cover our flaws....there's a lie that lurks all around us constantly trying to get in.

I'm not going to deceive you, this has been an exceptionally hard week for me. Feeling, and dealing with the realities of what I'm being asked to accept is my own form of torture right now. There have been many a day I have acted childish and thrown my own kind of tantrums toward God hoping for some kind of release, or maybe my own rebellion to win out, but to no avail. The overwhelming pull of every media talking about cleanses, detox programs, new diets, pills, workouts and strategies have made me feel depressed and even sub-human at times. I know I sound pretty melodramatic right now, but every inch of me feels like I am fighting to remain obedient, and all I can really say is, it sucks. (Yes, that is the nicest way I can put it).

Despite all of that, I did feel like God spoke something to me during the last week in regards to beauty. As I mentioned above beauty has always been something I've tried measure myself by, along with my weight. Always feeling I lived in the shadows of my gorgeous friends ( know who you are), mother, and of course media figures, it was very difficult to feel I could "match" them so I would settle for "my best", which I had no doubt was sub-par. Of course, when you grow up with a self esteem like this, any sort of verbal approval seemed the highest reward, even though it would fall flat and empty just moments after. The hunger for more compliments and affirmations would only increase and try to outrun the fear and pain of feeling what I knew was the truth- that I was only second best. This week, God gave me a bit of an attention slap. 

I was at the massage-therapist for a recent minor car accident and we were chatting away while she worked on me. It was the second or third time I had visited and our conversation quickly became deep as we both shared a love for Christ and our church communities. I was gabbing away about something (who knows what really), when she placed her hand on my shoulder and interrupted me sweetly. I was expecting her to ask me a muscle related question, but instead she said, "I just have to tell you something, you have a very beautiful soul, and I love so look forward to your appointments with me". I was kinda dumbfounded, and sheepishly laughed and mumbled some thanks and then quickly kept talking about whatever it was I was saying prior to this comment. However, when I got in the car God brought it to my mind again. That was honestly the first time anyone had ever made a compliment on my SOUL...and God wanted me to understand the depth and value.

I realized the reason I was so awkward was because I was so exposed. Laying on a table half naked (or really quite more than half ), no makeup, no fashionable clothing or jewelry, hair a complete rats nest...and yet I was getting a compliment? It felt very undeserving, and I was embarrassed to say the least due to my lack of  "trying" that day to be presentable. But the soul is not in need of makeup, accessories or covering. The soul is the absolute exposure of our truest self, the self that matters most. I thought about her words for days and God kept bringing them to my mind and realized that all the times I have worked so hard to look the part, and all the compliments I have received over the years when I "tried" to be beautiful paled in comparison to what GOD SEES BEAUTY IN. 

Though I have whined and complained this week a lot...this was a big fat lesson for me to think about.  I remember as a young girl being told that it's the "beauty on the inside that counts", and here I am again learning it at 30. I want the Lord to look at me and call me beautiful more than any person on this earth. For what is beauty if my soul is rotting away? And therein lies the answers of the "why" I am on this journey, God wants to keep dealing with my heart. I can lose weight and put makeup on all the livelong day, but without the hope, truth, grace, peace, love, kindness, patience, gentleness, and self-control filling my soul...I will always be pursuing beauty that's only skin deep. 

1 SAMUEL 16:7 
"For the Lord sees NOT as Man sees: for Man looks at the outward appearance and the Lord looks at the heart."

Amen to that.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Somethings are still unclear...

To be honest ( which seems to be a curse more lately than a relief), it's been a really crazy week around here. Getting back from Oregon just a few days ago has felt more like coming home from an overseas country. Everyone in my household is off....staying up very late and sleeping in very late. Reality will settle in soon enough as Tim will go back to work on Tuesday and Preston will start school Wednesday. The grocery selection in our house has been limited at best and in between doctors appointments (Preston's had a flu bug) and New Years Eve gatherings we have not made the time to go to store. All that ranting to say...there has been no sort of normal here for days.

Today however, is New Years Day, and I felt a significant pull to at least journal a tad bit. Although I've been captivated by my old, and now again fresh new love of novel reading....I have felt a tinge of conviction today. Part of my recent late nights (in addition to the awkward two hour time change) have been due to being so engrossed in the vivid stories in my head as I read my latest book. How very easy it is to stay up until 3am reading when it's something I desire to be doing...but how difficult it is to stop when I know there is something I SHOULD be doing....uh, like readying daily scripture. I feel like I have a brand new perspective on what Paul says in Romans, "I don't really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do what I HATE, but if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good." Now. I don't hate reading my novels nor is it wrong...but ignoring my daily devotion time to find out more about the characters latest adventure is nothing more than a fleeting earthly trap to say the least. Here is where the balance I so hope to absorb from Christ is starting to work in my heart. It doesn't have to be just one way over the other....or binge eating over strict dieting (to bring a very near and dear subject back to the light) but instead I can hear from God, invest time with Him, and then enjoy the humanly entertainment on this earth guilt free, and perspective full.

Anyway, that wasn't exactly what I was going to write about today...but my popcorn mind lead me there. I do however have a little struggle I am wrestling with today, and I will surely seek this in my quiet time to come here in a moment. As I mentioned my commitment in my earlier blog to "not diet" this year, I am not quite sure yet at what point that starts and stops. My weakness is the extremism that I seem to always falter to especially in the area of my salvation and also in my biggest stronghold- food and body issues.

My question/struggle is do I weigh myself ? And if so, when? This is the longest I have gone without weighing myself and that was the day before Thanksgiving of 2011. After gaining back about 25 to 30 pounds of a large amount of weight lost last year I was in a very deep and dark depression that I can only know as a shame so great I could hardly stand myself. In the recovery world I believe it to be called, "rock bottom". Shortly after this misery is when I heard God asking me to make a stand this year against every fighting cell in my body that wanted to take control and diet again. Although the shame has passed and God's grace has filled me again, I am still torn on this issue of the scale. What is the good that can come from it? And what is the bad that can come from it? My fear in weighing is the temptation that it could bring to this challenge I am on and cause me to go off course, finding a way to feed this diet addiction I have. My other fear is to become so out of touch with the scale that I have no benchmark for reference during this year....I know, don't even say it. I hear it...control. That's where it loves to hide it's ugly little head...on the scale.

So I will pray about this issue today and think it through carefully, if you would like to weigh in (LOL), please do.
Sorry for the scattered-ness today....but it seems to come naturally as this has been my way of life the past few days.