Tag Archives: beauty

…of all shapes and sizes

I’m in a cultural diversity class this semester at seminary, which I have absolutely loved. And because of this class, I have simply been more aware of the people around me. And, of course, I have been thinking about diversity, and unity, and how humans can’t seem to help but to hurt each other in painful, identity-shaking ways.

Sometime in the last three weeks or so, someone brought up the end of the world,the fullness of time, and mentioned how they were looking forward to the peace that would come, because unity would be possible. We will all be unified in our love and worship of God. And then this person went on to say that they were looking forward to the time when we are all more alike, that there wouldn’t be as many differences between us.

…that there wouldn’t be as many differences between us…

I’m sorry, but I don’t think that’s going to be the case. I think, in the end, there might even be more differences. God is a creative God, and He LOVES diversity and variation. Just look at how many different kinds of everything there is on this planet – let alone different kind of stars in the universe, or planets, or stuff in space we have no idea is there. I mean, just here on little ol’ earth there are flowers in every color. There are how many different kinds of dogs, birds, cats, spiders (shudder), snakes (again, shudder) or squirrels. So. Many. Different. Kinds!!! God LOVES variety. He loves all shapes and sizes and types. He loves the spastic, and the calm, the crazy and the boringly-sane.

All that to say, I think when God restores His creation to His vision, I think there might be more diversity than there is even now.

Which means, I think, that true unity does not mean we all look alike or think alike or act similarly. I think true unity means not being afraid of the differences between ourselves and others. True unity means celebrating the differences and variety. True unity means loving others and simply accepting them exactly as they are.

Exactly. As. They. Are.

Love each other simply as God has made each and every one of us. Look at each other through God’s eyes, not through the tainted glasses of the broken world around us. Get to know the beauty in each person (because there is beauty in most every person).

Stop demanding that the world around you look like you. Learn to love differences. Differences, after all, help us see different sides of God.


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Unseen Beauty

13.08.08 - hairbells!

If you know me, you know there are a few subjects I can get, um, let’s go with “passionate” about.  One of them is a woman’s beauty.  Maybe because while growing up I would look around at all the girls my age and wish I was as beautiful as them (I couldn’t be beautiful because of my curvy body that refused to fit into social norms, no matter how little or how healthfully I ate – or  how much I worked out).  I could see the beauty in each and every woman and girl around me, and I longed to be as beautiful as they.
Now, eventually, I have been able to gain a more healthful attitude on this issue, and thanks to God and some persistent, kind, honest friends, I can see my own beauty.  But I still see the beauty in every other woman, and it breaks my heart when they can’t see their own.  Or when they downplay it because they don’t fit into a certain jean size, or their skin has developed wrinkles, or they have freckles, or their hair color isn’t blonde (or brunette or glorious red).  I hate that!
I told one of the girls in my youth group a couple years ago that if I could give my life for the women of the world to see their own beauty and value, I would.  And that’s still true, but I’ve learned something since then.
You aren’t going to truly be able to see your own beauty, if you don’t know how Christ sees you.  It’s confusing and makes no sense, I know, and I’m not completely sure why this is the case, but it is.  And, unfortunately, it’s one of those “constantly work on” things.  It CAN go away if you don’t guard it.  You have to know how much God loves you, treasures you, and how you look through the lens of Jesus in order for you to see your own beauty.  Otherwise there will always be a flaw or someone prettier (thus rendering you not pretty) or aging that will bring your beauty into question in your mind.  That’s just how it is in this cut-throat, beauty-defiling world we live in.
And, as I have been discovering, once you know how God sees you, what He thinks about you, you can learn to love all the bits and pieces of you – the insecure bits, the scared pieces, those things you see as flaws (freckles or snorts or a temper).  And, the amazing thing is, generally, once you learn to love a specific bit of yourself, than that flaw no longer has power over you, and no longer can be used to whisper lies into your ear.
So, want to feel comfortable in your skin?  Want to feel beautiful?  There is absolutely nothing YOU can personally do about it.  So start praying that God, in His timing and His way, will start to show you how He sees you.  And then, that will be all that matters.
And that, Ladies (and Gentlemen) is beautiful.

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Empty Eggshells

This summer has not been an easy one for me.  More often than not, by the end of the day, I feel completely empty, totally poured out.  There’s not any one specific thing that’s been causing it – it’s been several specific things.  Some are done and over with now, with other things filling their places.  Some are on-going.  All of them are draining.

And yes, prayer helps.  As does reading scripture.  And taking hikes, or long walks.  And journaling.  But I’m still empty by the end.

A couple weeks ago I went on a mission trip with my youth group.  It was one of the things that completely broke me.  When I came home and turned on my laptop, I was stopped by my wallpaper.  It was a picture I had taken earlier in the summer during a camping trip.  In the picture is a pile of broken egg shells, completely emptied of their yolk and white.  And, because of their emptiness, the morning sunlight could shine right through them, illuminating their cracks in an eye-catching way.  (So eye-catching that I had to stop flipping French Toast and grab my camera!)

Anyway, when I got back from my mission trip and was greeted by this picture, I suddenly found myself identifying with the eggs – completely emptied of everything within me, and broken.

But that’s when I realized that in order for the light to be shining through the eggshells, all their yolk and white had to be emptied out.  In fact, if you could talk to the eggs, I bet they would tell you that they felt like their very essence, the very thing that made them eggs, had been drained out of them.

But, but that’s what had to happen for the light to shine through them.  Only once the light was able to shine THROUGH them, could the eggs become something no one had expected.

And, I think, (I pray) that’s what God’s been doing with me this summer – completely emptying me of what I think of as my essence.  But, in reality, it’s just stuff that gets in His way of shining THROUGH me.  Which is really what I want.  I want Him to shine through me.  I want to be merely a shell, with Him filling me up, pouring out of me, catching eyes so that people notice.

I want to live an eggshell life – a life that brings Him glory and catches eyes for Him.

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Sunrise at St. Malo's

Sunrise at St. Malo’s

I was driving into the sun yesterday.   It was evening, but too early to be sunset.   I didn’t get to see the sunset last night, but it probably was a pretty one.  There were several clouds in the sky, and clouds are what make a sunrise or sunset spectacular, so it was probably pretty.

However, as I was driving, the sun DID go behind a cloud, lighting it from behind.  In theater, this effect is called “backlighting”- when the shape itself is dark, but the background or outline of the shape is magnificently lit.  In everyday world, on most inspirational cards, it’s called a “silver lining”.  The “lining” of last night’s cloud wasn’t overly silver though.  There was too much yellow in the molten-outline of the cloud to be silver.  It was more like vibrant…joy.  I know, I know, joy isn’t a color, but if it were, I think it would look like the outline of the cloud last night – blindingly yellow-white, almost pulsing, as if it were alive.

Noticing the cloud got me thinking about light, and how important it is.  Duh, right?  We need light to see.  But sometimes, when used correctly, light is what brings out the breath-taking beauty of something.  And that – bringing out the beauty of something – is incredibly important.

Like the cloud last night.  Sure, it’s a cloud, so it’s going to be pretty.  But the light silhouetting it made me take notice of that beauty.

The same is true of sunlight pouring through a stain-glass window.  Sure, the window itself is pretty, but when the light comes through – it can take your breath away.   It’s almost as if the window comes alive, or at least the colors are.

Often art is displayed with a specific light shining on it a specific way – to bring out subtleties in a picture or sculpture that you might not have noticed otherwise.

But the coolest example of light illuminating beauty, in my opinion, is the rainbow.  I mean, if it weren’t for the light hitting the falling raindrops or moisture just right – you wouldn’t even see those colors. All you would see is a dark, foreboding cloud.

I LOVE that God does this to us.  Somehow He cares enough about us, thinks enough of us, to want to display our beauty (such that it is).  And, like a strong sunbeam through a cathedral stain-glass window, He sets us off in breath-taking fashion.  He comes in and sifts through all our sticky gunk and smelly junk and gooey mess and finds our beauty  – the beauty that He originally placed there but no one else might be able to see anymore.  And then He does what He does so well – and lights it up – lights US up, so all the world can see.

The thing is, He asks us to do this as well.  As His disciples, we are called to use our own light (well, to allow God’s light to shine through us) to set off the beauty of others.  There are so many people throughout my life who have come alongside of me, and shown their light on me, allowing the beauty that I and the rest of the world had never seen before – friends, my mentor, my parents.

So now it’s my turn, and now it’s your turn to be lights.

I will leave you with the question that has been circling me the last day or so:  Whose light has helped display YOUR beauty recently?  And whose beauty are you being called to help display?



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