It’s Okay to Feel Beautiful

Dear Lady friends,

Do you ever have one of those days where you just feel beautiful? A day when you just don’t fight with the mirror. You’re content, joyful, and you feel whole. You feel all glowy from the inside out. Nothing can steal your joy. There’s just something about the day and about yourself that feels…. well, beautiful. Do you ever have days like that?

Did you just say NO? I can’t really say I’m all that surprised.

And if you thought YES, my bet is that you’d give up your daily coffee before you’d admit that to anyone. I mean, that’s obnoxious, right? Wouldn’t that sound ridiculous to go around and say, I feel so beautiful today!

Weird, right?

What if each of us just climbed up on the roof and shouted I FEEL BEAUTIFUL TODAY!!!

Is it okay for us to feel beautiful? To say it like that? To feel completely unashamed just for one dang day?

Because pretty much everything in the universe tells us that’s NOT okay. Every magazine, every commercial, every billboard, every catcall, every snide comment from a family member, every diet plan, every clothing ad, every single thing tells me that I’m not enough. We even say it to one another in so many ways, don’t we, ladies?

It always seems we always need something more before we can be beautiful. We need smoother skin, a smaller waist, longer hair, whattheheckever. We always need SOMETHING else to make us beautiful.

We’re apparently not allowed to feel beautiful just the way we are, just because we are.

Apparently that’s not okay.

But I think we’ve been lied to. I think we’ve got it wrong.

It's okay to feel beautiful

 

Ladies, we ARE already beautiful. We are created in the image of God, who is Himself Good. He is Love. He is Light.

And if we’re made in His image, we are also those things. Those things reside in us and we have the capacity to bring good, to bring love and light wherever we go.

Is that not beautiful?

And more than that, each one of us brings our own individual beauty with us wherever we go. We bring our big, beaming smiles. Our eyes hold wisdom and wonder and that little sparkle of mystery. The little crow’s feet developing around our eyes give a peek into days we stood in the sun, soaking up life. In-the-moment, right-now life. That line between our eyebrows tells of some nights we stayed up worrying and praying about our wayward child. Those little wrinkles that are starting to triple on our foreheads tell of the surprises that have been shared with us, and the amazement of learning something new.

We carry all the colors of the Earth in our skin: caramel, coffee bean, light sand, peachy pink. We bring every glorious texture– smooth, straight, curly, zig-zaggy, wavy– in our hair. The curve of our bodies tells of our unique design, and the way we’ve run those miles and the times we’ve enjoyed dessert. The way life has been brought through us into this world straight from Heaven.

Our lips are pursed in truth-telling, instruction and character-building for our babies, and encouragement for every single person we mother with our love.

Our hands turn the pages of books, create delicious meals that nourish, reach out offering help and kindness, and create art that’s never before been seen in the world, including our little ones.

Tell me something that is more beautiful than all of that.

Women, we are the crown of creation. God created everything, including man. And it wasn’t good for him to be alone, so we were made. And whoa.

Then God was finished. Everything was perfectly in place with us reflecting all his qualities that couldn’t be reflected fully in man.

Through us He brought the life and the beauty that man couldn’t bring.

We. Are. Beautiful. It’s okay to feel it.

It’s okay to look at yourself in the mirror and speak to yourself the same way you would speak to a loved one, instead of firing off arrows of shame and condemnation. It’s okay to be pleased with what you see there, because our Creator most certainly is.

In this world, knowing our worth and feeling our beauty are priceless, extraordinarily brave things. Freeing things.

When we are unashamed, when we feel beautiful, we are being brave. And we are opening up space for others to do the same. Now that’s a thing of beauty, to be sure.

Ladies, let’s feel our beauty today. Look closely at yourself. Do you see it? On the outside, yes, but also what exudes from the inside.

You don’t have to wait to feel beautiful. You don’t have to wait until you cover your gray or lose 20 pounds or get that next miracle face cream.

You are beautiful right now, just the way you are.

Be who you are. Created, loved, unashamed. Feel your right-now beauty.

I promise you, it’s okay.

Lady Friends, would you be so brave as to share how you’re feeling your right-now beauty today? How you’re opening up space for others to feel beautiful? Would you share one thing you love and appreciate about your own beauty, so we can all share in your beautiful brave moment? 

 

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Welcome! {Just this one thing}

What do I want in this life?

That’s a question I ask myself often. Sometimes to actually figure it out, and sometimes to just to weigh everything against my purpose to see if I am on the right track.

I’ve thought for years about a mission statement. A personal one for my life. I’ve even started to write one out a few different times, but it always seemed a bit too contrived, like I was trying to say all the right things to myself. To give myself a bit of self-fulfilling prophecy to nod my head at.

It never really worked.

Then during this past year, everything has been turned upside down a bit in my world. It’s made me look at everything and everyone a bit differently. Life has forced me to look at everything through a new lens of self-preservation, which has been both good for me and painful all at the same time.

But I realized these feelings of self-preservation have really been self-care, which I’ve neglected for entirely too long, and that’s not a good thing. So where am I to begin?

My faith in Jesus is the center of my life, so I want to follow what He says. He boiled everything we need to know down to a couple of things to focus on, which we refer to as the greatest commandment.  I am learning that to carry out the greatest commandment, to love God and to love others as I love myself, I have to actually love myself.

I’ve been thinking about what that means. What does it actually look like to love God, love myself, and love others as myself?

I could almost feel the light bulb warm up and begin to buzz.

It looks like freedom.

Evaluating every area of my life: physical, spiritual, emotional, relational…the way I want those parts of my life to play out are rooted in freedom.

Freedom is the yardstick with which I want to measure my life. The degree to which I experience joy is determined by the level of freedom I have in each of the areas of my life. The degree to which I have a right view of God, myself, and others is in direct correlation with the amount of freedom I have in my world. Experiencing too little freedom or distorting what freedom means in my life causes heartache in my relationships, in my work, my communion with God, and the way I view myself.

For me, everything comes back to freedom.

What do I want in life? I want to be more free.

I’ve been a writer all my life in some capacity. No one is paying me to write books or articles. I write because I must. It’s how I think and process. It’s how I share my thoughts in hopes that they help someone else feeling the same way. I’ve written for six years at praythenlearn.com and by sharing there I’ve already become just a little bit more free.

But it’s time to center everything, even my writing, around my goal of being more free. It’s a reality that in this life, we can never be completely free. As long as we live in these bodies we will be subject to pain, injury, illness, and death. While we walk this earth, we will live among evil, lies, and deception. There is no freedom from all those things right now. When we leave this world and go on to our eternal life, we can be completely free, as we were meant to be.

That is why to be more free is my goal. To be more free in each area of life. To be more free than I was a year ago or even yesterday. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free, so I want to be about the business of having more freedom in my daily life.

Jesus said:

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.-John 10:10

This is what I want out of life. To have it to the full. Free, abundant life.

Will you join me on this journey toward more freedom in our everyday lives? To live as Jesus wanted us to live? As free individuals, making the most of every area of our lives and every moment while we are here on earth? To know what it means to love our God, ourselves, and others in freedom?

Welcome to ToBeMoreFree.com. I hope to see you again soon.

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Forgive and Get

So there was this dude from back in the day. He’d gotten himself into some pretty serious debt (the equivalent of millions of dollars) by borrowing from the king of his land, and on budget-balancing day, the king decided he wanted everything settled up. As you’d guess, the guy didn’t have the funds to pay it back. So, as was the custom of the day, the king ordered that everything this man had be sold so the man could make good on his promise of repaying the debt. This included the man and his whole family being sold into servitude to settle the account.

The man in debt, clearly distraught over this, fell to his knees and begged the king:

“Please master, Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.”

The king, even though he had every right to demand repayment, was filled with compassion toward this man, and made a decision. He decided to let the man go free, not just to have more time to pay back the debt, but to be completely free. He released him and canceled his debt completely. The man’s debt had been erased. He owed nothing. He was free.

So, of course, this man lived a long and happy life, forever grateful for this freedom, and extended the same grace to others that had been extended to him, right?

Um, not so much.

That dude went right on out, came across a guy who owed him some money (the equivalent of a few thousand bucks) and grabbed him by the throat, demanding he pay back the money this instant. This man also couldn’t pay back the debt, so the dude had him thrown in debtor’s prison.

Some folks heard about this, and knowing he’d JUST been forgiven all his debts, went and told the king about it. The king was irritated to say the least. He summoned the forgiven man and asked him WHAT IS UP WITH THAT??!! He said “You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?”

You might recognize this as a parable that Jesus told, as recorded in Matthew 18. (Retold here in the Krysten paraphrase.) 

This parable was told in response to Peter asking Jesus “How many times should I forgive someone who has sinned against me? Up to seven times?”

Oh, Peter, you’re so adorable. You thought seven times was a lot. I’m with you. 

“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!”

Jesus said the Kingdom of God plays out like this parable. God is the king. We are the ones in debt to Him because of our state of sin. He has fully and completely forgiven us, no matter how much of a mess our credit history is. So when we go out into our world, He expects us to transfer that mercy to others. He expects us to remember our great debt that we couldn’t repay, and to offer the same forgiveness to others.

But there’s one thing this parable doesn’t tell us. It’s the part we figure out for ourselves when we put in to practice what Jesus said to do. It’s the hidden gem that we get from obedience to this practice of forgiving. When we free someone from their debt, we become free as well. In fact, the freeing is more for us than for them!  Unshackling someone from us by forgiving their betrayal, their insensitivity, their part in our abuse, their coldness, their poor parenting, their lack of love and understanding… Whatever the case may be. Releasing them in your heart and mind releases us as well. We get to live more freely and move forward with what God has in store for us.

Forgiving is no easy task. It’s not a one-time deal. It’s a choice we make over and over to extend freedom as it has been extended to us. It’s a process of renewing our minds to allow God’s truth about us and our situation to permeate every place in our lives, so we can really live. It doesn’t mean forgetting. It doesn’t mean acting like nothing every happened (in fact, the very act of forgiving someone means that there has to be an offense that needs forgiven in the first place.) It doesn’t even mean reconciliation with the person in every case. But it does mean freedom.

This week has been a tough one. I’ve been working through this process of forgiveness toward someone that, quite frankly, doesn’t really “deserve” my forgiveness. This person did something terrible to me, on purpose. They treated me in the worst way a person possibly could. And they’ve never once said they were sorry. They haven’t even acknowledged their wrongdoing. They’re just going about their everyday life as if nothing ever happened. And chances are, I will never hear an apology from this person as long as I live, even though I certainly am owed one, and much more.

My life has been changed by the way this person has done me wrong. It’s been devastating. Life-altering. It’s cost me hours and hours of distress and thousands of dollars in counseling. It’s created anxieties in me that I’ve never had before. It’s made me act like a person I’m not, on more than a few occasions.

And I am tired of living that way. Having a bitter undercurrent just below the surface of your life is no way to live. And honestly, nothing this person could ever do or say would really take away the hurt that has been imposed on me. It’s forever affected my world. 

So rather than waiting forever to get the apology I’m owed that will never come, (and wouldn’t really help much if it did) I’m working on being obedient to this command of my King. For my own sake. For freedom. 

  
I begin by recalling a debt that I owed, that I couldn’t repay. I remember how I have been forgiven of that massive debt. How I could never make it right even if I tried. And I decide to forgive my debtor as I have been forgiven. 

This doesn’t come easily. But with God’s help, I start by transforming the way I think of this person. In a very practical and tangible way, I write down everything I think about the person (everything—no holding back. God knows anyway.) And then I search the scriptures and  write down the truth about this person, as God sees them. As he sees all of us. 
Then, I say the things out loud. This is the hardest part.  My own thoughts first…filled with hurt, bitterness, pain:

______ is an awful person. _____ doesn’t deserve forgiveness for this. How could someone do that to me?  To anyone!?

Then the truth of God’s word, canceling out my unforgiving thoughts: 

______ is made in God’s image just like I am. _____ has fallen short of the glory of God just like we all have. _____ has sinned against me, but while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us all. (Genesis 1:27, Romans 3:23, Romans 5:6,8) 

I don’t have to like this right now. I don’t even have to believe 100% that these things are true about this person. Yet. But I will. Because God’s words ARE truth, and truth will win every time. I will continue reviewing these thoughts vs. God’s truth (and the many other pairs such as this that I’ve written down about this person I’m forgiving) and trust that I’ll be transformed by the renewing of my mind. 

I’ll make the decision to release them from this debt they owe me, because I want more freedom. And forgiveness is the way to go about getting it.