I have a confession: I love beautiful things.
Colorful landscapes, vibrant sunsets, beautiful clothes, cozy homes, well done decorations, new pretty journals, amazing paintings, fresh-painted nails, even good landscaping – give me all the pretties! When I’m “relaxing” I like to troll Pinterest or Instagram and just look at all the beautiful things that are out there. Things that are pretty are eye-catching, and in a hard to describe way, they make my soul feel lighter, like I have been uplifted by something better than myself. To me, beautiful things enrich life through color, texture, taste, and feeling– they add a different element of richness and to me are expressions of the depth and wonder of God. I know that God created me to love beautiful things because I feel them right down to my soul, and it makes me feel His presence in a deeper way. As John and Stasi Eldredge wrote in Captivating, “beauty beckons and invites us in.”
But along the way, I’ve allowed myself to fall into the worldly mindset that if something is not aesthetically beautiful, then it cannot be fully functional, important or desirable. I’ve allowed myself to think that for things to fully serve a purpose, they have to be pretty, perfectly curated to meld into the greater picture, and worthy of envy. And that is so wrong.
In feeling this way, I started to feel like I needed to be outwardly beautiful to do the work I was called to do – If I didn’t measure up, if I didn’t look the way I should, I wasn’t worth it and I wasn’t fulfilling my purpose. I see other Christian women at work in ministries throughout the world, other writers, and “mommy bloggers” and they are fashionable, put together, and (even though I know its probably for the camera) they always look the part of successful, influential, beautiful women at work. I hide from the camera because I haven’t yet figured out the angle that is flattering for my very round face. I don’t have fashionable clothes because I take care of toddlers all day and that’s just a waste of clothes…and I also like to be comfortable! I hardly ever actually do my hair, and I don’t have a perfectly decorated home. I don’t fit the mold!
I will ashamedly admit to you that when I relaunched this blog a year ago, on my to-do list, I actually wrote “work on image”. How sad is that? Now, I certainly don’t think its wrong to take care of yourself and want to look nice, but I had basically gone so far as to put a caveat on how I thought God would work, and that He would only give me words to say and people to influence if I looked trendy enough. I thought that if I didn’t look right, I wasn’t doing it right!
When it comes to “stuff”, I’ve had to remind myself its ok to be drawn to beautiful things as long as I remain centered, thanking God for them, and knowing that He is the one truly bringing the depth and enrichment from them. Appreciation of beauty should be a gateway to worship – He created our hearts to be sensitive to beauty in order to draw us closer to Him! Enjoy the beauty in this world, but let’s enjoy it as a gift from Him and worship the creator of the beauty!
When it comes to myself, I know I am always going to be a work in progress, but I am slowly but surely changing my perspective on who I am, and my importance regardless of what I look like, or how I fit into “the look”. My inner teenager will always want to look like the cool girls, and I will always enjoy wearing new clothes, getting a fresh haircut, or having myself put together for the day, but I will not lose sight of the fact that the only thing that matters to my Father God is a willing heart, a humble spirit, and obedient hands.
Jesus used broken, mismatched people to do amazing things. He took the simple, the less-than, the broken, the diseased, the angry, the impossible and used them to change the world. He never sought out perfectly polished, sophisticated, elegant or marvelously beautiful. In His hands, we are enough. We have only to convince ourselves and get to work!