Battling Superficial

Let not yours be the [merely] external adorning with [elaborate] interweaving and knotting of the hair, the wearing of jewelry, or changes of clothes; But let it be the inward adorning and beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which [is not anxious or wrought up, but] is very precious in the sight of God. – 1 Peter 3:3-4

When it comes to appearances, I am simple. I like Chapstick more than lipstick. I like being barefoot more than I like high heels. I like being pretty, but I don’t strive to be sexy. As a young woman who loves God, I often feel conflicted about what kind of woman I should really be.

All women want to be thought of as beautiful. And many of us ultimately hope to be desired by a loving man we’ll one day call “husband.” But I often wonder when I look around me [in my Christian circles] whether we ‘d rather this wonderful man fall in love with how we look or fall in love with how we worship God with our life. I don’t think that women should wear potato sacks because 1) they are ugly and 2) men are more so visually-attracted, but I don’t think that Jesus ever intended for us to be obsessed with appearances or to make them the most attractive part of ourselves.

I often think about Jesus’ time spent on Earth. Jesus was characterized as humble and meek. When He walked into a room, it was never His clothing that caused Him to stand out, but the pure love He had for God and others that radiated from Him. Jesus had a personality and character that made people feel loved. He went out of His way to help those lowest on society’s totem pole, prayed on the behalf of others, sacrificed and poured into others. He was wise, patient, caring, gentle yet courageous. He was never concerned with Himself, but always looking to see who He could bless.

For a while, I have battled superficial. I’ve wondered whether I should be more concerned with looks, things, appearances, etc.

Should I wake up an hour early to put on make-up? Should I spend more money on clothes? Should I be more concerned with how others see me?

Whenever these thoughts come to my mind, I’m reminded that I’m already approved by God and that the way that He made me is perfect. Whether I’m wearing sweat pants or a dress, Jesus sees me beautiful and I don’t need to try harder. If how I look pleases me and pleases God, it’s perfect.

When I consider the women of God that I admire most, they aren’t the women who have the best wardrobe or the most likes on Instagram pics; they’re the women who are beautiful inside and out because they love God, aim to glorify Him in all they do and work to build others up. Also, they aren’t obsessed with themselves. They realize that there is more to life than how they look. Even though you can’t physically see their heart for God, you can see their love for Him through the gentle, quiet spirit they possess and how they unselfishly serve others. Ruth is one of my favorite Biblical women who portrays these characteristics.

I ask myself, what will the world really benefit from having another young woman who is concerned with things that won’t matter in 100 years? Does that really bless anyone? I doubt it.

Instead of trying to be sexy or the center of attention, my goal is to display captivating beauty that reflects the love of Jesus Christ to a dying world. After all, that’s what this is all about anyway…

*This post inspired by Leslie Ludy, Shalonda Rich, Christy Nockels, Maeling Murphy and all of my pastor’s wives…

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31 NKJV

Away From The Noise

I’m wide awake at 6:45 on a Sunday morning and I’m okay with it. I woke up God woke me up around 4 am because my room was warm, but I really think it was His way of saying, “Love, we need to talk.” I have a lot on my mind at this hour, but I’m glad that to be meeting Him in the still of the night. If you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking something along the lines of “where has she been?” The short answer to that is student teaching. This is my last semester in college so I’m teaching 8th grade social studies full-time on top of completing coursework for my education program. Because college is almost over, I’ve been trying to figure out many things. I’m transitioning from my comfort zone of college into the real world and it’s has been challenging. Applications, interviews, licensing exams, graduation plans, job searches and Atlanta traffic have really taken their toll on me. I would love to say that I haven’t been stressed because I’ve been trusting God for everything, but I’d be a liar if I did. I know that these things have affected me a lot because my devotional time has not been the most important thing to me like it used to be. I define backsliding by having less intimacy with Christ than you did the last time. I’ve been a backslider.

This past semester and even this past summer, I was very disciplined about spending hours with the Lord and it showed in every aspect of my life. I craved that time with Him more than I craved food. No matter how busy and no matter how early I had to be somewhere, Jesus and I would connect first. I’ve allowed assignments, deadlines, commitments and people other distractions to come before that time and it has shown in my work, relationships, motivation, attitude and emotions. I haven’t been alive. I realize that when I don’t spend time with the Lord like I should, I merely exist. When I sit at His feet, pour my heart out to Him and allow Him to pour into me, I become alive. It’s during our time together that He revives me. He breathes life into my old bones. It’s where He gives me a clean heart and renews a right spirit in me. It’s through prayer and the Word that He takes out my heart of stone and gives me a heart of flesh. Without this time with Him, I am lost and confused. I am okay with the fact that I can’t function without Him because I’m not supposed to be able to.

On Friday after school, I spontaneously decided skip town and visit my little sister who steals all my clothes my baby sister for the weekend where she attends a quiet, Christian school. The area is absolutely breath-taking and I literally feel the burdens of my heart roll away when I’m here. I had to get away from all the noise and re-connect with God. I’m sure I could have done that in Atlanta, but I knew for a fact that I could do it here. This weekend was amazing. I’ve been able to really reconnect with God. And not just through time alone with Him, but through all the reminders of His love for me. Yesterday, I was surrounded by precious children, had an amazing time being in the presence of my sweet sister, saw some lovely animals while enjoying nature, had my face in His book for a lot of the day and He allowed the ☀ to shine SO bright! These are all things that I love a lot and allow me to feel His love. And, the time I’ve spent with Him in the quiet hours of the morning has been beautiful. I’ve been able to study Ephesians and talk with Him, and for the first time in a while, I feel complete peace. I still have many things to sort out, assignments to complete and lessons to write, but now that I’ve pressed the reset button my devotional life, I know that all of the other giants towering over me will be easily conquered.

I don’t know if any of you have found yourself in a similar situation, but in case you have, get away from all the distractions around you and go to a place where you can focus on God. If that means leaving town for a few days or just having devotion in your backyard, do whatever you have to do. Devotional time is our lifeblood; we truly need it to survive.

The fuel to everything in the Christian walk is personal, private time with God. -Doss and Wood

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. -Jeremiah 29:13 KJV