It's probably more natural to feel beautiful as a model, but to know beauty as an "average" person means to find it in the heart. Heart beauty is clearly different than physical beauty. But we value what we see and we value being known. So we often seek to accomplish and compete to succeed in this "physical beauty" rather than first, look inwardly. Better makeup, better clothes, diets, surgery, laser, you name it, most of us have tried it. It's easy to feel valuable as someone who is financially accomplished, or as a woman, feel safe in marrying someone established in their career and wealth. But to know your worth and cling to that love when you or your spouse do not have those things is a whole different story. We can be valued for our gifts, talents, accomplishments - but what is most beautiful, important, and worthy is to find purpose in what we do and do it with love. Purpose to me, is love. It sounds odd, but we need love to love. Love is kind of like a muscle - we all have it, but have neglected, misused, strained, or are awkwardly building to strengthen it. Real love, pure love, is a love that doesn't owe. A love that doesn't jealously compete or gossip. A love that doesn't judge or compare. It doesn't boast or envy. A love that's completely free and unconditional. We feel safe in knowing we are kept in it.
I wanted to share something from my devotional the other day because it's helped expose some things in my own heart this week as I've processed the words I'd read:
"The lie says this is what really counts: to be wealthy, powerful, influential, attractive, admired, talented, popular, and, above all, valuable. We must make a life that is worth something to others. Worth more than others. The world screams at us to hurry up and matter. Our lives become a reaction to this lie.... According to the lie, we must not be nothings. To be good for nothing is to be good as dead. And death is what we fear most. The death that says our lives have no value. So we thrash about in a pool of comparison and one-upmanship. Our lives become burdened by the heaviness of getting it right. Our joy becomes brittle, and our hearts slowly break. The only possible outcome of this hurry-up-and-matter hustle is the slow crushing of our souls." -Dispelling the Beautiful Lie, Mike Foster
I was strolling on my IG feed and read a post from Humans of NY quoting President Obama:
"I first ran for Congress in 1999, and I got beat. I just got whopped. I had been in the state legislature for a long time, I was in the minority party, I wasn't getting a lot done, and I was away from my family and putting a lot of strain on Michelle. Then for me to run and lose that bad, I was thinking maybe this isn't what I was cut out to do. I was forty hears old, and I'd invested a lot of time and effort into something that didn't seem to be working. But the thing that got me through that moment, and any other time that I've felt stuck, is to remind myself that it's about the work. Because if you're worrying about yourself - if you're thinking: 'Am I succeeding? Am I in the right position? Am I being appreciated?' - then you're going to end up feeling frustrated and stuck. But if you can keep it about work, you'll always have a path. There's always something to be done." - Barack Obama
The Beautiful lie convinces us that our worth is equivalent to our return on investment in worldly striving and accomplishment. Recognition. Appreciation. But the ugly truth is that we will never be "good enough" if we live according to this short-term standard of worth. The intent of the beautiful lie is to focus on ourselves. How we look, what we have, what we like, who we should date, how many people admire us, what other people think of us. Our identity and value becomes dependent on other's opinion's of us. So we work harder, we compare more, we compete more, we get jealous and offended easily, and we strive with all our hearts, minds, soul and strength. In the end, we are simply living for ourselves. Comparison makes us ungrateful, makes us feel even unworthy at times, then shrivels up our joy. I was reminded this week of a really important commandment that I often neglect. Jesus said, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." Not, be the best, strongest, prettiest, richest, most knowledgeable, or most popular. I forget that at times, especially because I know that I can be competitive, with others and myself. I think healthy competition is good, but not the kind that's driven with the intent of puffing ourselves up more than others. This isn't love.
Do we seek approval from others to validate our worth or do we find beauty and worth in the unconditional love of Christ? Self-absorption blinds me from being truly thankful or loving well. In the end, instead of being satisfied in having more of the things I strive(d) for, I feel more drained and empty of purpose. As I contrast the Ugly Truth with The Beautiful Lie, I'm fully aware of all the things I can be thankful for as well as discern the lies that have stunted my joy. I actually find so much peace in knowing my worth is not dependent on my performance or other's opinions of me and vice versa, because honestly, we all suck sometimes. Our purpose is love and out of this place, I've found so much peace, thankfulness, and joy. Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' As I've been asking Jesus what this love looks like, I've been gently encouraged and reminded, to love my family or friends when it's hard. To do my best in not just the bigger things, but little things. To be there for someone when I want to hide in my introvert cave. To not be too hard on myself when I mess up. To trust his timing and not my own. To learn humility when pride rages in my heart. To prefer others when I want to be preferred. To listen when I want to be heard. To know love and make love known.
I'm extremely thankful for my family, closest friends, and the opportunities I've had this year to learn and grow in this love. I'm thankful for hope. Relationships will get hard, life will always have it's ups and downs, things will always change, but this love is constant. I'm thankful for this blog where I can share my heart and thoughts and even more thankful for my special friends who always read and encourage me to keep writing. And the list goes on! Happy Thanksgiving!