Friday, September 18, 2015

Defending Beauty

     I made a mistake today.
     I came home and hung out with my roommates and some friends in our room for a while—because, you know, I live there—just talking and stuff. Then they started talking about this girl who goes to the school, making comments like “she’s just not pretty” and “she tries too hard”. They scrolled through some pictures, alternately laughing and wincing at her attempts to appear “sexy” and attractive. After a while, I started to feel uncomfortable, imagining how devastated she would be if she could hear what they were saying. I felt like I needed to say something, ask them to be a little more respectful of her in the way they were acting. But I kept my mouth shut.
I shouldn’t have.

     We all need a place to speak our minds, even if what we have to say isn’t kind or friendly. But the mindset that leads us to say things like this about people is a problem. A huge problem. This kind of gossip condemnation of people without consideration of their lives and motives is a complete dismissal of them as a human and individual. This is a problem, ladies.
     Remember that day when you woke up and you just really wanted people to think you looked nice? You tried something new and maybe a little crazy with your makeup. The new dress you bought last week was a little bizarre but you’re dying to try it out. You go for it. Maybe the look isn’t the best but did you feel good? Maybe the dress didn’t “accentuate your body type” perfectly? So what?
     Whether someone looks good or not, they are a creation of God. Whether they dress in good taste or not, they are given the right to choose what to wear. Whether you think they are pretty or not, God still created them to be beautiful.
     Recognising our own God-given beauty is only half the battle we fight as women of God. It is also incredibly important for us to defend each other’s right to be beautiful. Disparaging the way someone dresses or the way someone’s body looks or the way her hair curls in the humidity, whether to their face or to someone else, is removing them from the status of an independent human formed in God’s image and subjects them to an analysis that shouldn’t ever happen because it shouldn’t even matter. So next time you hear someone behaving like this, say something. And next time you catch yourself doing it, apologise. You don’t know why she wore what she wore. You don’t know what she went through trying to satisfy herself with her appearance. You don’t know why she perhaps struggles with her weight. Stop focusing on physical attributes; these don’t even matter! 1 Samuel 16:7 reminds us that
“‘the Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’”

     Defend the right to be beautiful. Don’t perpetuate the mindset that you dress so people can analyse your appearance. Don’t make the mistake I made today by not saying something.


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Singing in the Rain

It rained the other night. I didn't actually know it was raining until I walked out of my apartment on my way to class. I didn't have a jacket, and I didn't go back for one; I ran to class in the rain, barefoot, because flip-flops don't do so great in the running department. I was already wet when I made it back to my apartment at 9:00. But for some reason, I didn't mind being a little damp. In fact, I minded so little that I went back and stood outside for over half an hour, just enjoying the rain.

Not the most flattering picture by most people's standards. I'm definitely wet, hair falling in my face, you can't see in this picture but I'm not actually wearing shoes, either. But I think it's somewhat less important to notice how I look than how I felt.
I hate to use the phrase "everyone has a happy place" but it's kind of true-I think everyone has a place where they feel like they belong. And every girl has-and definitely needs-a place where she feels beautiful.
This was my place.
Yes, it's a little bit crazy. Barefoot in the rain spinning circles outside of my apartment building, I'm pretty sure most of the people who saw me thought I was nuts. But read what I posted on Facebook shortly after coming inside:

"I am a barefoot princess born of wind, fallen from the sky, forever turning my face up to God who cradles my face with every speck of water that drops from the heavens. I am the one who is most beautiful drenched in a storm-driven happiness."

So maybe this is a little overly-poetic, but the point is still: standing in the rain letting it soak into my clothes and run through my hair made me feel happy. More than happy, it made me feel beautiful. Because in that moment, I could focus completely on the beauty of God in sending the rain that night, on the smell of the earth and the cool breeze, turning my eyes up to heaven and seeing beauty--this is what made me happy. This is what made me beautiful. Because God created a place where it wouldn't matter what I looked like or what I was doing or what was going on in my life.

Where is your beautiful place? What things do you find direct your thoughts to heaven instead of dwelling on your own life? Share what's going on in your world!


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Who I am

         My family and I watched the movie “Courageous” the other night. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend that you do. I think it’s powerful and challenging in a lot of ways most of us don’t encounter often but desperately need. The movie focuses primarily on the main characters—all men, as they make and try to fill a commitment to be the husbands and fathers God has called them to be. You would think, then, that the movie is mostly to challenge men in the audience, but sitting there and watching brought me to a realisation: it isn’t just the men in our lives who have the responsibility to uphold this kind of commitment.
         Think of a time when you tried to do something in service to someone else, and they blow you aside, doing nothing to accept the effort you are making for them. For any of you who are or have ever been wait staff in a restaurant, you probably see this all the time. How can we expect the men of our world to offer us the respect, protection, and leadership the Bible commands them to provide if we are unwilling to accept it?
         I sat down a bit ago and wrote a letter to my dad. I felt like I needed to do it, after feeling God convict my heart so strongly about this. I mentioned how much I have struggled with becoming the person God wants me to be. I made a commitment to respect his authority and his guidance, something that won’t be easy but I still know is right. It’s a precursor to the vow I will someday make at the altar, to a man my dad believes to be right for me in addition to my own feelings. It isn’t going to be easy to uphold, but I still know it’s right.
         The Bible does not just lay out guidelines for how men should behave and live. There are instructions for us as well, instructions that we don’t always like to follow because they include submission and service to our fathers and husbands, hard work caring for a family, selfless support of the men who lead us. Children play. Boys and girls shirk responsibility and fail to understand what is expected of them. There are millions of people in this world who will be boys and girls until the day they die. For eighteen years of my life, I have thought of myself as a girl but I realise that’s not what I am anymore. God is preparing my heart and my life to turn me into the woman He created me to be. I am choosing to be more than a girl. I am a woman and someday I will devote my life to a man who is willing to be a Godly leader in my life. This has been my challenge and it has been issued more than once. Tonight, God made my heart ready to accept it.
         Will you choose to be a woman with me? Will you fill the role God has created you to fill, standing side by side with Godly men and supporting their search to honour God with their lives and hearts? We, too, will face a battle, but God will give us the strength to prevail for what is right. Instead of dreaming of a man who treats me right, I am choosing to be the woman worthy of that treatment. The change starts with us, with you. It starts in my heart and yours. Before you start wishing more men would be respectful and polite, consider what you have done to encourage these behaviours. Instead of fearing there won’t be a Godly man for her, raise her to be Godly and to inspire Godliness in others. We cannot mandate change in someone else; we have to inspire it by changing ourselves first.

As always, please share your thoughts. I would love to discuss or pray with/for you! Please pray for me as I am an official college student (as of Saturday) and am going to be facing a lot of different things. God bless!