It’s funny – how you can think you have made major progress in a certain area of your life. How you can think you have grown and that you don’t struggle as much you once did.
And then you get an e-mail.
You get an e-mail that somehow manages to reach down inside of you and find that place where apparently you aren’t totally whole yet. You get an e-mail that hits you where the healing must not be complete, because the old familiar ache shows up with a quickness. You get an e-mail that causes you to slowly push back your computer, lay your head down on folded arms, and let the tears leak out.
Not shoulder-shaking sobs, mind you. Just gentle tears. The ones that declare that you aren’t quite as over your stuff as you thought you were.
So what horrible, tear-inducing things did I find in this e-mail? (I’m almost embarrassed to confess this to you.) It was an e-mail letting me know “she” is releasing another book.
This she who is beautiful on the outside. This she who is continually doing beautiful and powerful things for God with her life. This she who has written book after book after book while I keep saying I am going to write one. This she with her cute clothes and her stunning book jacket photo that seem a million miles from what I see when I look in the mirror.
And I won’t tell you who she is. Because ultimately? It doesn’t matter. There is always another she. There are always other shes we can end up comparing ourselves with. And that morning, as I foolishly held my life up against hers, I suddenly felt small.
Small and anything but beautiful.
Thankfully, I knew this wasn’t good or right thinking. I knew I had entered dangerous territory by comparing myself to someone else. I knew I didn’t need to let my heart settle in and dwell in that place of discouragement. So I quickly typed out an e-mail to a close friend, confessing my heart issues, and then headed off for a morning walk.
I love my walks. They are a time for me to pray, a time for God to encourage my heart, and (more often than not) a time for Him to correct my crazy thoughts and line them back up with His Word. And that is just what He did that morning.
As I walked and poured out my heart before Him, I kept noticing all of the flowers. Bloom after beautiful bloom demanding my attention, making me smile. Each one unique in shape and color and size, yet each one still bursting with such beauty. I couldn’t help but marvel at how creative our God is. At how magnificent all that He has made is. I started making a mental list of all of the many things I find beautiful in His creation, a list that could go on forever – the brilliant colors of the sunset, dewdrops clinging to strong yet delicate looking strands of a spider’s web, the strength and beauty that ripple through the powerful muscles of a horse, the glory of the night sky.
All so very different, yet all still so very beautiful.
I marveled even more. They are all beautiful at the same time. It sounds so simplistic, but I had never really thought about any of this before. How the beauty of one thing does not negate the beauty of another. And in that moment I heard the loving, encouraging, correcting whisper of the Father.
Be your own beautiful.
Be my own beautiful. Because worth and beauty are not solely found in a life that looks like hers. Be my own beautiful. Because how she does ministry is not the only way ministry is done. Be my own beautiful. Because He didn’t create me so I could spend all of my days trying to be someone else.
My beauty will never come from trying to be her or from trying to live a life for Jesus exactly like hers. My beauty rests in how He made me. My beauty is revealed in a life lived in humble obedience, a life lived overflowing with His grace and love, a life lived where I joyfully walk out the path He has laid out for ME.
I have permission to be my OWN beautiful. You do, too.
I don’t know who your she is. Maybe you have multiple shes. Women you keep comparing yourself to. Women you keep wishing you could be a little more like. Women you look at and think, “Man. She is so beautiful.”
You know what. She is. She is beautiful. But so are you. And so am I. And her beauty? It doesn’t negate our beauty.
And I need you to hear me. I don’t mean all of this in some wimpy, hokey “let’s hug each other and make each other feel better about ourselves today” kind of way. I mean it in a strong and powerful “let’s get this deep down in our hearts so we can get on about the business of living the beautiful lives He planned out for us” kind of way.
Because comparisons kill.
They kill joy. They kill hope. They kill purpose. And they are killing me and you.
Today, you get to be you. You get to be your own beautiful. With all of your strengths and weaknesses. With your goofiness and quirks. With the slightly off way that you smile and the ridiculous way that your glasses never sit right on your face because your ears don’t sit level. (Oops. Sorry. That last one is me.) But you get to be YOU. Fearfully and wonderfully made YOU. Created on purpose and with purpose YOU.
The world wouldn’t be near as wonderful without all of the vastly different kinds of beautiful that exist in it. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to imagine a world where the radiance of the sun stops showing up because she is jealous of the gentle glow of the moon. I don’t want to live in a world where the simple, white daisies quit blooming because they envy the lush petals of the deeply-hued rose.
And God doesn’t want there to be a world without the crazy, unique, just right beauty of me and you. He wouldn’t have made us if He didn’t want us. He isn’t wishing we would just hurry up and be more like her or her or her. What He probably wishes more than anything is that we would simply start to trust.
Trust that He loves us.
Trust how He made us.
Trust that it is okay to be our own beautiful.
Can you imagine if we did that? Can you imagine if we all asked Him what it is that makes us beautiful, what it is that He created us to do, and then we simply started living? As in really living. Rooted in love living. Walking in joy living. Being our own beautiful living.
I’m not going to lie, I think that would be pretty amazing. And I think that is exactly what this girl wants to start doing.
Praying we can each one learn what it means to be our own beautiful. Praying that as we feel secure in our own beautiful, we can even learn to celebrate each other’s beautiful.
Love you, my BEAUTIFUL friends,