Sunday, May 22, 2011

You Are So Beautiful

Photo taken by Lisa Mash

WARNING: This is a L-O-N-G post! Get your tea and get comfy. :)

Well, this weekend our church hosted a women's conference, themed Project Pink! It was filled with all sorts of blessings and I would be remiss if I didn't first thank J. Harris and crew (and to the many volunteers/"fun"shop leaders) for the wonderful blessings and pampering they bestowed on the women of God this weekend.

Guests included the always sweet and funny (author, speaker and professed chocolate addict) Rhonda Rhea, the very talented Passion Painter Andy Raines who created some fabulous artwork during praise and worship which was led by Scott Reed and friends who shared their talents and beautiful voices with us.

The theme of Project Pink was essentially Beauty--mostly that we are all beautiful to the Lord and Savior who created us. Friday night opened with the always haunting song, You Are So Beautiful To Me, while on the screens images of women from every walk, nationality, size and age were shown. Women whom the world would deem "perfect" and women whom the world would deem "flawed" (some severely)--yet we are not to live by the world's standards. Each one of us was created in HIS image, and to Him we are all equally beautiful because of what is in our hearts and minds, not our outer appearance.

I Samuel 16:7b tells us, "...for the LORD seeth not as man seeth;
for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart."

During one of the funshops (they weren't work) I attended, the speaker (K. Ringler) contrasted the differences in the world's idea of beauty and the Lord's vision of beauty.

How often have we fell short of the world's idea of beauty? Why?

It is not attainable. With the millions of dollars spent on advertising to sell us this very lie, the models used for the ad campaigns have been made up and done over by a team of make-up artists, hair stylists, wardrobe, fitness instructors, surgeons, etc. Yet, even they are not deemed worthy enough by advertising and industry to be shown as they are (even in that "enhanced" state) and then the art directors and photographers step in, airbrushing and photoshopping their way to sell us what their vision of beauty is.

And that is just the modern age. We won't even go into the tortuous things women have done to make themselves "beautiful" and appealing through the ages. If you don't know what I'm talking about you only have to think of the whalebone cinch corsets that women tightened so much they couldn't take a deep breath or exert themselves without fear of passing out.

Questions posed during K's funshop really hit this point in how much we value the world's beauty or the Lord's beauty. ~~~ Do you spend more time each morning working on your outer appearance or you inner appearance? Do you spend more time in front of the mirror than you do in the prayer and the Word of the Lord?

There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be clean and look pleasing to yourself and others, but when a beauty ritual takes precedence over our relationship with the Lord, that is when it is flawed. When we strive for that unattainable idea of perfection over the very real and very attainable beauty the Lord has created within our hearts, then we need to get our priorities straight.

We all need to stop and remember who we serve. We are not slaves to the world any longer. Our Redeemer saved us from that. We need to find within us that quiet and elegant beauty that the Lord gifted within our hearts. The desire to please him, to be restrained and not obnoxious and obvious, but rather to be content and yes, even joyful in serving Him in our everyday lives.

The ironic thing is that a lot of polls about discovering what is appealing to other people show that confidence is almost always at the top of the list in things that people seek and want in friends and mates.

What greater confidence can we have than to know that to the very One who created us, we are most beautiful? You wouldn't say the Lord was flawed and yet we are created in His image and have His spirit with us so why are we so concerned with the gray hairs, scars and/or freckles or cellulite dimples that could rival a golf ball? We shouldn't be, and while we should do what we can to be physically fit, we should not make it a god and put it above the Lord.

I challenge each of you this week, when you find yourselves picking out (what you consider to be) a flaw in yourself or others, to stop and pray. To ask the Lord to renew within your hearts that confidence found only in His love and grace. To ask Him to show you the real beauty within the hearts of those around you and that which He placed within you.

And I challenge you to live out Philippians 4:8 this week if you find yourself judging anyone by appearance or material goods.

8Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Always with prayer,

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