Beautiful

 

I saw a video at church that Dove created as part of their ‘Choose Beautiful’ campaign last spring. At shopping malls in Delhi, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, and London, they placed signs above two adjacent doors, one marked “Beautiful” and the other marked “Average,” and then they filmed women deciding which door to walk through, which door they felt described them.

It’s a powerful video to watch, but the sermon that followed the video reminded us of a much bigger, more powerful story: Our pastor and friend, Dave Burden, suggested that how we see ourselves—what creates our identity—affects how and where we walk. How I view myself creates the launchpad from which I do all of life.

“Beautiful” can be a word that speaks beyond appearance and goes to the core of who God says I am. Beautiful can be about walking through the door of God’s love for me, squinting to see myself through his eyes, fighting against the devil’s schemes and lies about who I am or who I’m not, armed with the truth of who God says I am.

Romans 8:9-17 says that if God’s Spirit dwells in us, we

-“are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear”
-“are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ . . .” 

I’m his child. He desired me and ransomed his son for me. And I’m an heir to a full and glorious kingdom. This is the tip of the iceberg of who God says I am. His word is chalked full of tender, unbelievably loving proclamations of who he says I am. And I am who he says I am. I’m not who other people say I am or even who I may feel I am or am not. And I am armed with God’s power to fight my way through the door that’s draped in the banner of his love for me, bypassing the door of slavery to fear and slavery to the lies of the accuser, which tell me I’m just average and tell me to compare myself to this person or that—shouting, “You’re not enough!”

As in the Dove video, where brave women pulled their friends and daughters through the Beautiful door with them and, in essence, said, “You are walking with me through this proclamation because, even when you don’t see beauty in yourself, I see it,” many days, we need someone to pull us alongside them and walk us through the truth that we are beloved, we are heirs, we are adopted daughters and sons and to say to us, “This is real. This is what’s true. This is who you are and what you were made for: You were made for God and his love for you. Walk in the truth of who you really are.”

Abba Father, would you teach us how to walk in the truth that our identity is what you say about us in your word? Would you walk us through the door of your love and truth when the songs of the world tell us we’re less-than? Would you fight for us as we strain to hear the song of love you are singing over us? Would you lead us headlong into your invitation to embrace who we are in you, to rest from the striving to be something or someone else? Would you help us believe we are beautiful to you?

 

 

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Uncertainty Is an Armchair

What if uncertainty
were a plump, fluffy armchair
and I slid into it, my socked feet pulled close

What if
I let this chair envelope me
and made friends with its ever-present nature

What if
I settled in
and even rested there,
trusting that nothing is uncertain
to my God.

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Mantle of Mom

Three paragraphs. This fall I had the opportunity to write for a parenting magazine. They asked me to write three paragraphs about the challenges of being a stay-at-home mom. More specifically, they wanted me to speak on how I balance being a mother and not getting lost in that identity. I could have written on this topic for three days, but I offered my three paragraphs: Continue reading

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Arms Outstretched

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Vincent van Gogh, First Steps, after Millet, 1890, Oil on canvas, 28 1/2 x 35 7/8in. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.

Whatever anxieties, fears, unknowns you may be staring down today, I pray these words might reach you and remind you that God is a good father who says many patient times, “Do not fear.” Continue reading

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Shelter

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The day after Christmas we drove to Texas to visit family. In the last hour of the drive, our phone sirens went off several times, telling us to take shelter NOW from tornadoes that would soon wreak havoc there.

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When “Just” Is a Four-Letter Word

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My college roommate and dear friend, Bethany Jenkins, among many other talents, writes and edits for The Gospel Coalition.  She and I reworked a smaller piece of mine into something a little more, and they published it today! I hope you enjoy it:

http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/when-just-is-a-four-letter-word

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O Come Emmanuel

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I want all stories and conversations and relationships to be wrapped up by a beautiful Lexus Christmas bow. I also like things to close on a perfect note, like Jane Austen’s stories. But there are only Lexus bows at Christmastime in certain places—dealerships and some driveways—and as much as I love Jane Austen, her work is fiction. Real life is gritty.

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Heavy Pink Hope

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I am here, having settled children in school.
Where have these women been before here?

Most are a decade or two older than me, a few younger.
Their husbands and mine waiting stoic. “I’ll see you,” one says; he waits, outside the swallowing door, unread book in his limp hand.

Veterans in hats, eyebrows missing, know the drill, the door, stay busy, don’t look around questioningly. They are well versed in the waiting. Continue reading

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Tranquilo

IMG_5451 (1)Two summers ago I went to Santiago, Chile, with my husband, who travels to speak about his work. We have chopsticks from China, bowls from Africa, books on Brasilian architecture. We scout out trips for me to join him on, ones with few social events so we can spend time on our own. He was told there were no plans for him in Chile, save his talk. So I went along.

But just after we arrived on a red-eye flight, there was a call from Luis, who was in the lobby and would be taking us to lunch in an hour. Luis and Marcela not only took us to lunch, but also to a vineyard, another lunch, a dinner performance of traditional Chilean dances, complete with authentic dress from the different regions of Chile, . . . they had planned several events and excursions each day for us and the other speakers who had traveled there.

And the whole time I was apologizing—apologizing for Continue reading

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Confession

I just realized I feel hollow inside today. I’ve been nursing a mild depression this summer: I’m mourning the loss of a friend’s child, I’m mourning the loss of my dream that things would always be easy for my children. Continue reading

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