To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.
Active waiting means to be present fully to the moment, in the conviction that something is happening where you are and that you want to be present to it. ~ Waiting for God
Art credit: Final photograph of crab apple blossoms by Kirk Sewell
I am not sovereign over my children – God is. And God will use every aspect of my human parenting, even my sins and failures, to shape my children into who He desires them to be, for the sake of His kingdom. (Parenting is Your Highest Calling and Eight Other Myths… by Leslie Fields)
Today is going to be a bit different.
One small difference is that I’m not going to use pictures. As you read on, perhaps you’ll understand why.
The main difference?
Usually, I write about things that have a fairly wide range of interest for people rather than writing for parents or musicians or thirty-four-year-old women who love art and logic.
Today, though, I feel as though God is asking me to speak directly to my women friends. To be honest, I’ve actually been avoiding this essay for a while. I’ve found, though that it’s usually best not to disobey God.
To my men friends: please don’t go away. Keep reading if you like and hear some things that could teach you how to better love all of the women in your life.
The impetus for these thoughts was a conversation I overheard at a Hearts at Home conference last month.
Yes, I was eavesdropping. It’s a really bad habit of mine. My darling husband has tried his best to break me of it, but people always have such interesting things to say! I can’t help being curious about people I see.
The two women were talking about a marathon that one of them had just completed. My own thought was “Wow! That’s impressive. What discipline and what an amazing accomplishment.”
The comment of her companion? “Wow! No wonder you’re as skinny as a stick!”
My heart grew just a bit heavy as I glanced back at them.
May I say something here in this space that we don’t talk about much, if ever? Something that is a really hard thing because this place in our hearts is so very sore and tender?
All of the women I know, with whom I have spoken about these things, struggle with their body image.
Small, large, tall, little, plain or stunning by this world’s standards…all.
If you do not and never have struggled with this, you are in a blessed minority. I am so grateful that you have not had to hurt over this. Will you keep reading so you can know how to help the rest of us?
Sweet friends. Our world, our culture, screams at us that we should look a certain way, that our bodies should be a certain shape. Most of us (all of us?), at the least, go through periods where we do not like what we see in the mirror.
Some of us never like what we see.
With our world forcing impossible images in front of our hearts and minds, could we, as sisters in Christ, vow to stop talking to each other in the manner I overheard? Could we stop complimenting each other on how skinny we are and bragging about how little we eat?
Could we, instead, praise each other for working hard at a difficult task, for doing yet another week’s laundry for our family, for working on the fruit of self-control, for spending a little extra time with God yesterday?
Yes, we should take care of our bodies. Yes, we should encourage each other to eat well and exercise so as to stay healthy and to have enough energy to accomplish the tasks that God sets before us.
But could we please stop reinforcing our culture’s obsession with the size of our waists?
We seem to think, and to communicate to each other, that we are made beautiful by what we do or don’t do, rather than by the simple fact that God made us.
To paraphrase James: my sisters, this should not be! We are called to be different, to speak God’s truth to each other.
Out of love for each other, out of love for your sister who is struggling to see herself as a beautiful work of God, could we all promise to choose different compliments?
The words that we use with each other can either reinforce our culture’s perspective that we are how we look or our God’s view that we are beautiful because He made us.
My beautiful sisters (and you amazing men who stuck with me!), will you choose to be mindful of how you speak? Will you promise to use words that encourage rather than words that make us want to either run into a darkened room to hide God’s amazing creation or to take sinful pride in what we have accomplished in our own strength?
If you wish, we could use the comment space as a safe place to talk about this subject. We have only kind words and compassionate hearts here.
I have written a lot about the ugly things of life, about death and about obeying when you can’t make sense of what you see.
I have been reminded recently of how beautiful this life can also be.
Will you feast with me? Replenish your soul with beauty.
Let God remind you of His goodness, then walk away more able to see the beauty all around you.
“This is one of the most beautiful things to me.”
I look at her, my mommy-shepherd, wanting her to continue.
“A mother who knows her baby, who knows what her baby needs by being completely attuned to the cues her baby gives her.”
Yes. This is beautiful.
Our conversation drifts to the back of my mind until I am reading Psalm 139, which begins like this:
O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.
My mind leaps back to the beauty of a mother knowing her baby as I read more of the psalm:
…you perceive my thoughts from afar…you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord…For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb…All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
God knows me.
God, the One Who weighs the clouds heavy with snow, knows me even more deeply than a mommy can know her baby.
This is beautiful.
And then I read something that I have read many times. This time, with the beauty of God’s knowledge of me fresh in my mind, I am stunned.
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
The wonder of this takes my breath away and I want to check, to be sure this is true.
I know that the Old and New Testaments were written in different languages, but I check my Strong’s for the meanings of “know” in both chapters and they are remarkably similar. It is the same kind of knowing.
We will know God as deeply as He knows us.
Stop for just a moment and let that fill up your heart.
Lately my heart has been too full of the mystery of God. I often struggle to see Him in the midst of the busyness, the hurts and disappointments of life.
My heart needs to hear this, to savor it: God wants me to know Him.
I search for more of this truth. If you, too, need this, go slowly. Let God breathe these words into your distant heart and draw you close to Him.
I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
This is what the LORD says: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom…but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD.’
I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD.
I am filled with this beauty.
God knows all of the deepest pieces of me and in all of His knowledge of my dark places, He desires that I know Him just as deeply.