“All I had to offer Him were brokeness and strife
But He made something beautiful of my life.”
Last Friday I was tagged by a friend (@honeyholden) on Instagram to post a picture of myself of a time when I felt beautiful. It was part of a beautiful women hashtag and, to be honest, I am not really sure where it originated or what it is even about. My initial thought was just to dismiss it. Beauty, after all, is not really my thing to write about or talk about. Especially, I thought to myself, while I am living here in the middle of the jungle, where my accessories have dwindled down to a hair bobble and a watch. My lotion of choice these days, is most likely to be either sunscreen or mosquito repellent.
The next morning was Valentine’s Day and Izzy and I decided to make pancakes together for our family. She was standing up on the chair, stirring the ingredients together, when I asked Danny to take a picture of the two of us (he is VERY used to this request, by the way). I turned the phone around to show it to Izzy and she said “Mama we look so beautiful making our pancakes together.” I probably would have thought nothing of it, except for the memory of the night before when I had laughed in my head at being tagged in a “beautiful women” hashtag and dismissed it as “not my thing.” Suddenly, as she stood there on the chair grinning up at me, so content and happy with our little Saturday morning routine, I knew I was wrong. The world would love us to believe; that beauty is the flawless skin, the perfect face and not the shiny-faced missionary Mama who has a bleach stain on her shirt, flipping pancakes out in the jungle. (Sigh.)
I started to think on how Izzy has been choosing her own clothes to wear this past month (hello to striped T-shirts being worn with polka dotted skirts and the layering of TWO dresses). She also asks to have her hair braided on Saturday nights so it will be curly for church on Sunday. The thought that is a little nerve-wrecking for me lately, is that she isn’t just starting to pay attention to her own appearance, she is also noticing others, too. She points out the hole in the dress of the lady sitting on our deck; she asks, on the way home from church, about the kid with the black teeth. Her eyes, like any child, are open to the world around her and I am realizing, more and more, that the world will quickly fill her little mind and heart with it’s false claims and lies. If we are not purposeful with teaching truth into her life then the way the world shows her will be the only way she knows.
As my little girl grows, I want more than ever for her to recognize and seek after a different kind of beauty; the soul-deep kind, rather than the skin-deep kind. Beauty that can only come from knowing and loving God with all our heart and loving others as ourselves. It is beauty that comes from being selfless, rather than focusing on self-confidence and it seeks no attention for fame and recognition, but instead desires to glorify the Lord. It isn’t the type of beauty that is concerned with making an entrance, but it is humble and kind, speaking softly and quietly into the hearts of those around us, long after we leave the room. This is kind of beauty can only come from spending time with Jesus and allowing Him to refine our thoughts in light of His Word.
Now, I am not against looking good and feeling good about ourselves. I, as much anyone, love to get my hair done when we are out in town and a new pair of shoes is one of my favourite things. However, I am challenging myself, as to where I base my outlook on beauty; the world, or His Word? Where am I looking to find satisfaction and fulfillment for my emotional needs? What is the example I am setting for my little girl?
There is a wonderful quote: “If only our eyes saw souls instead of bodies, how very different our ideals of beauty would be.”
1 Samuel 16:7 ….”For man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”
I am beginning to realize, now as a mother, more than I ever did before, that we need to always be on guard. The world is so shifty and deceptive. After all, it has been listening to the lies of Satan from the beginning of time. Now, instead of the media portrayal of beauty as the perfect face or perfect body, which most of us cannot attain to, we are bombarded with words and ideas like; self-confidence, self-image, self-esteem, self-belief and we are constantly being exposed to the lie of self-love. The world has sneaked in under-cover and it seems to have re-defined beauty as; if you love yourself, then you are beautiful. It is a very subtle lie, because it has taken a concept that for many of us felt out of reach and it has led us to believe that it can be found if we just look, “within ourselves.” It is a dangerous road to be traveling along, because it takes away our very need of the One who gave us life; our Creator God. And worse, it leads us to believe that we are in charge of our own destiny.
True beauty, not of this world, can only be found by losing ourselves in the love and the grace of God. Jesus said in Matthew 10:39; “He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that looseth his life for my sake shall find it.” I know that in and of myself, I deserved nothing but punishment for my sin, there was nothing good within me; but Jesus gave me everything, He gave Himself. “The fact that God loves us and is committed to us does not reveal anything about us; it reveals something extraordinary about God. It’s called grace!” -James McDonald.
2 Corinthians 5:21 “For he made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
So, back to that moment, flipping pancakes on Saturday morning. We had a lovely breakfast together and I enjoyed my second cup of strong black coffee. I drank it while sitting in my rocking chair listening to Izzy and Judah sing “story-songs” and I posted that photo of Izzy and I making pancakes together on Instagram. I even went ahead and tagged myself as part of the #20beautifulwomenchallenge – smiling to myself, while I sat in the middle of the jungle, no make-up on my face and a messy bun up on my head. I still have no idea what it was all about, but it was a timely reminder for me to be on guard with what I am teaching my children on a daily basis. If we are not; the world will do it for us.
I want my little girl to know that when I consider (or tag) myself as beautiful, it isn’t because I have made peace (or fallen in love) with my reflection in the mirror; it is because I have seen myself as a sinner who is “being justified by faith, has peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is only from this place of brokenness at the Saviour’s feet, that true beauty, eternal beauty, can rise and it will never pass or fade away. I pray, more than ever before, that she comes to know Christ as her personal Saviour and because of faith in Him, her life will take an eternal perspective of life, hope, joy and security. I want her to grow up to seek the truth of God’s Word, confident because of Christ and assured by the knowledge that she has been created in the image of God, so she may know Him and glorify Him forever. It is slowly beginning to dawn on me, that the most beautiful people I have met and known in this world; are those who have never lost the wonder of the grace of God in their lives. As I finish this little post tonight, I am pondering; that maybe the most natural form of beauty I can hope to live in front of my daughter, is simply to be grateful. And, that I am; grateful for the cross.
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.”
My dear daughter, you will never discern true grace, until you reflect on yourself in light of the cross. This is my prayer for you. – Your Mama.
Love from the jungle tonight,