Monday, December 22, 2014

And We Think Our Christmas Presents are Cool

Hi there! It's getting closer to Christmas, which for me means a fire going constantly, shiny things everywhere I look, a house that smells unendingly of caramel, and the constant knowledge that "the snow glows white on the mountain tonight" all night, every night; in fact, it's snowing now. :) It also means I spend way too much time digging for the right change so I can, you know, pay for the Christmas presents I'm buying my three siblings and my parents, and waaaaay too much time wondering frantically if they'll like it. Pride point: I can get some pretty cool Christmas presents. Every once in a while, I'll pick something out and I just know it's what my sister never knew she always wanted. I have a couple of those this year; I'm just waiting for Thursday to confirm my suspicion.
Christmastime is all about gifts. I know in church, we always focus a lot on God's "ultimate" gift-Jesus. Not going to lie, he really is the gift none of us knew we all so desperately needed. But in this post, I actually want to focus on another gift, one that is indescribably precious, that only God could have ever thought of and created:
Yes, you. Whether you believe me when I say it or not, you are a gift. Your unique and individual beauty is a gift. We are all immeasurably precious to God, all indescribably beautiful in his eyes. He has designed you exactly the way he wanted you, and he gave you your beauty as a gift, as a measure of how much he loves you.
We as humans don't do that. Instead of giving beauty we give beauty products. Instead of giving life we give suggestions on how to make life better. But the more I've thought about it, the more I've realised that no matter how shiny they are it isn't the presents that make Christmas beautiful; it's the look on my sister's face when she pulls the wrapping off and is excited not even because of what's inside but just at the thought that I got her something. It's my family sitting together at a table and eating the best caramel-cinnamon roles ever to exist and not so much enjoying our food, but each other's company. It's knowing that God gave us his Son so that we would have a chance to experience this kind of joy.
Have you ever watched little kids on Christmas morning? As I've seen it, they'll respond to Christmas in one of two ways. Either they think Santa brings everyone presents and their face lights up when they see what "Santa" brought them, or they've helped choose presents for mom and dad and maybe siblings too, and they are full of uncontainable anticipation because they want their mom to see what they've gotten her and they’re so excited to see her smile and be happy. This is the beauty of gifts, to experience a kind of gratitude and elation at knowing someone has cared enough about us to give us something special, and at being able to give something back to them.
Why should beauty be any different? Every day when you look in the mirror, you are experiencing the gift God has chosen specifically for you because He loves you. Do you feel that elation? Or do you feel dissatisfied, feel like you have to find your concealer and your mascara and you have to repaint your face into what you think it ought to be? Perhaps even more importantly, do you allow others to share in it? Will you share with them your smile, your voice, the time you would otherwise have spent in front of the mirror? Will you share with them your inner beauty: your compassion, your kindness, your passions, you joys? Beauty is a gift. Do you treat it as one?
I know I don't, more often than I really care to admit. Even on the occasions when I wear make-up, I never feel like it's "right", like I measure up. People offer me compliments and I brush them aside. I actively avoid people some days because I'm too wrapped up in my selfish musings about my appearance to give them the only thing they've ever asked of me: time. A person to talk to, a shoulder to cry on. Someone to give them a hug and stroke their hair and offer what some of them have never truly received--love. Every single one of us can give that whether or not your eyeliner is magazine-worthy, whether or not you feel like you look halfway-decent. Sometimes, I think the biggest thing that keeps us from being beautiful is the time spent trying to make ourselves pretty. Never once did God use "pretty" to describe a person in the Bible.
“You are altogether beautiful, my darling, 
and there is no blemish in you."
                                                       -Song of Solomon 4:7 NASB
Not "you look pretty today". "You are altogether beautiful". The New Living Translation says "You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way". As you're wrapping presents, maybe finishing up your Christmas shopping, think about this. And when you're giving and receiving presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day or whatever your family tradition is, remember that you have a gift no one can measure. Beauty is a gift. Will you treat it as one?

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