Tag Archives: beauty from the inside out

Naked and (UN)ashamed

Don’t you hate naked dreams? You know the ones. You’re in a public place and suddenly IMAG3123realize you forgot to get dressed. You’re horrified and afraid of being seen.

I had one of those dreams the other night.

What’s really funny is that in my dream there was a young man who upset me. We were in a crowd of people, and he kept doing irritating things. Then he started stripping!

The next scene of my dream I ran upstairs, looking for my father to ask him to deal with the chaos this young man was causing. But before I could find my dad, I looked down and realized that I was naked! I ran and found a sheet to hide in and wrapped myself in it, weeping.

When I awoke from this dream I immediately equated it to my life, especially the stuff I’ve been processing the last few weeks. When I wrote my Tension Tummy post I spoke about how boxes and legalism have hurt me and a lot of other people. I ended with these words:

I’ve had ample opportunity to process legalism and judgment lately. . . My human self comes up with all kinds of wonderful ways to fight . . . Instead I ask God to shed Truth and Grace where it is needed.

Including in the ugly remnants of legalism and religiosity in me.

See, my heart is to be loving and grace-filled, but I never perform up to my own desires. When I am hurt, or worse yet when someone I love is hurt, judgement and legalism are right there, ready to take up space in my attitude.

I think my dream is a reminder that while I am passionate about speaking out against boxes and legalism, I can never do it without that voice inside reminding me that I, too, am not perfect.

I have not yet let go of judgment or stepped out of boxes to the extent I want to. My mind is ahead of me even in the progress I have made. Often my thoughts and emotions don’t keep up with what I believe to be true. Sometimes even my actions contradict the grace I believe in.

I’m a work in progress.

There’s something in the Bible that talks about Jesus giving us robes of righteousness. That is the only answer to my naked problem. My raw, naked faults will be exposed from time to time. Hopefully I’m processing forward and becoming more loving, not less. But no matter how I long to be perfect, I’m just not.

That’s when I remember Jesus never left me naked and exposed. Long ago He gave me that righteousness robe to cover all the humanity I wish the world never saw. So when I feel hurt by my own lack, I look to HIM, to HIS fullness. To the way He cares, forgives, and covers me with the Good that is Himself.

Then I grab hold of His hand and hope I can listen to His Voice in a way that helps me be more loving and less judgmental the next time.

It’s not my desire to take away from anything I said in that Tension Tummy post. I believe those words to be true. It just seems important to say that even in my passion for freedom and against religiosity I have to say, “Me, too.”

I too am trying to find my way out of legalism.

I too have boxes I wish I could step out of.

I too fail at this grace thing, no matter how much I wish I didn’t.

Thank God HE is always there to remind me that failure is not the end of the story. That my missteps are forgiven. That He will help me journey down that road to loving more like He does.

Monday Morning Makeover ~ Ruts

Pondering Beauty

purple flowers by sidewalk with beeSome thoughts are too deep for a Facebook status.

I don’t mean too amazing or profound. I mean from a place too deep. I almost posted a status today, then deleted it. It felt too vulnerable to share.

Why I feel safe enough to write it in a blog post, like I’m about to do, I can’t tell you. Maybe it’s because a blog is like a journal, and I am willing to be a bit more introspective here.

Or maybe the answer is less mysterious. Perhaps it is simply that I have enough space here to explain myself and dare believe you’ll see my heart instead of being put off by a too quick sentiment in a short status. My almost posted status wasn’t a trite, “religious” sentiment or an attempt to look like a “good” Christian.

In my younger years I was accused of being “Pollyanna,” and a “goody-two-shoes.” I guess I couldn’t bear to have people read my status and roll their eyes, thinking I was trying to be “holy” or something. That status was too precious to me. Bubbling up from deep inside, it spoke my heart.

Here’s the deal. I’ve had a lot of attention over the whole weight loss thing. I’m NOT complaining. To have the kind of love and support and cheerleading that has come my way is breath-taking, an amazing gift. Each sweet compliment has been embraced, treasured, and received with gratitude–and a little embarrassment sometimes–but always with joy. I’ve been overwhelmed by the love.

(The snarky part of my personality comes out once in a while, too, like when I receive attention I would never have been given 50 pounds ago. You know the type I mean. It happens when someone befriends you because of how you look, not who you are. In those moments it’s like there’s this private place inside that rolls my eyes, doubting there will ever be genuine friendship for that reason alone–that I would have been invisible to him or her when I was overweight.)

Here’s the thing. I’ve enjoyed every positive word that’s come my way–like radiant or beautiful or skinny. I believe my Creator rejoices with me to see me back to the size He intended when He made me, but I don’t believe that there was a single moment, even at my heaviest point, that my God decided I was not beautiful.

Even my sweet hubby, who is not as all-seeing as God, still told me I was beautiful when I weighed 210 pounds. There is beauty in every single woman on this earth. I think women are one of God’s greatest expressions of beauty, maybe even the pinnacle, crowning point of creation. He made all these amazing things, then He made man, and He “saved the best for last,” designing woman in a punctuated, artful flourish.

There’s nothing wrong with a woman’s beauty. Still, the last few months I’ve needed to work through learning to receive attention again for who I am on the outside, not just the inside. And while I enjoyed feeling pretty in that mother-of-the-bride dress, while new clothes are a delight, and while I love having a neck thin enough to pull out the jewelry again without accentuating a double chin, I know real beauty isn’t an outside kind of thing.

Real beauty isn’t something we do–like fix our hair. It is intrinsic to who we are.

And so we come to the status I couldn’t bring myself to post on Facebook today:

While I’ve been blown away by all the support here on facebook for my weight loss journey, and have treasured every single compliment about how I’m looking now, the kind of beauty I most long for isn’t outward. Thin or heavy this is my heart-cry, “Let the beauty of the Lord my God be upon me.”*

I cried as I typed it.

I want so much for that kind of never-ending, glorious beauty to always shine in, upon, and through me, reflecting the breath-taking beauty of the One I love.

All the weight loss in the world, wonderful as it is, celebrated as it has been, will never give me that. Only God can choose to share that kind of beauty with me.  I know He longs to and has begun a work of beauty as I surrender to His Spirit and let Him iron out the ugly parts of my soul. His kind of being new beauty is free, purchased at the cross, and worked out by His Spirit each day as He makes me more like Jesus.

THAT is my heart’s desire.

Come, Jesus, let your beauty–the radiant, breath-taking beyond comprehension beauty of the Lord my God–be upon me . . .

*Paraphrased from Psalm 90:17 (KJV)

Today’s thoughts were stirred by the second teaching in Beth Moore’s study, Esther: It’s Tough Being a Woman.

Sharing:

longing for inside outside beauty