Sunday, August 17, 2008

Beautiful?!? What's in a name #8

The other day I was writing about value in Christ. Specifically that He values each and every one of us so much more than we could ever imagine.

That I can accept. I am accepting that. I am actually finding that I believe that.

But there is one problem…

Though I can see that He loves me and accepts me, I can’t look in the mirror. I mean I do when I have to, but I KNOW I am not seeing what God sees.

I see me. I see my past. I see my hurt. I see my pain. I see my shame. I see my mistakes. I see the things done to me. I see the things I have done.

And I know that God sees all that too…

When I look at all that, I see each one of them like a “black mark” against me. I see each thing as something that made me a bit more ugly each time. I don’t like looking at myself in the mirror, because outwardly many times I don’t like what I see. What I see there isn’t beautiful. I find it very hard to find something I can honestly say I like, about how I physically look.

So for a long time, I have thought, well, focus on the inner beauty God talks about.

“You beauty should not come from outward adornment. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
1 Peter 3:3-4

Reading those verses again, I feel like I am reading them for the first time, and starting to see how they got twisted in my mind.

I heard the part about beauty not being about outward adornment. And I even heard the part of about it being it should be that of your inner self… but stopped listening to the rest. I have looked at myself in the mirror for so long and discounted anything there that might be considered outward beauty… because God doesn’t look at the outside (the things that man sees) He looks at what is on the inside.

That scares me. Honestly. It really does. Because I know what is in my heart. I know what I have seen in there… and know that God sees that too… so how in the world could that be beautiful to him?

So if my beauty is to come from inside, then my reasoning has been… “well, then I really am ugly, cause there is nothing nice in there…”

Now I know that is wrong. I know that God is the judge of what real beauty is. Someone who has physical beauty by worldly standards may be ugly because of what is in them, their character. And someone who is not considered beautiful by worldly standards may be breathtaking because of who they are inside. I have looked at my outside, and by worldly standards, felt myself lacking. But then I have looked inside and thought I was lacking there as well… because of what I have done, and what has been done to me.

All this week I have been struggling with a huge sense of shame, feeling covered with it, feeling ugly because of it, feeling that there was nothing about me that God or anyone else could like about me, much less find beautiful. I have allowed the enemy to really play mind games with me. I have allowed him to fill my head with lies. Lies that I will never be clean. That God will never really love me all the way, because look at what I did… even if it wasn’t my fault, even if it was something done to me…

The enemy has been taking a situation in my life that I am trying to deal with through counseling right now, and is blowing it up bigger and bigger in my face. I can’t seem to escape it. I can’t seem to make sense of it. I can’t seem to let the images go, and let God’s word overtake what happened and heal me.

Earlier this week was a lot worse than now. On Thursday I spent a long time on the phone with Cindy, and spent a good half of that time in tears (sobbing) with her. I couldn’t control my emotions. I couldn’t control my pain. I couldn’t control my thoughts, and couldn’t (or was having a hard time) take the words of truth that Cindy was speaking to me, and accept them, believe them, internalize them. It was like I was listening, but discounting what she said right away. (Sorry Cindy, but it’s true…)

I woke up Friday and was doing better. I know part of it was because I stopped stuffing the emotions and let them out some on Thursday. I also know that part of it was prayer and God working in me to change my attitude. And part of it was, as soon as I got up on Friday, I spent time with God immediately. I read His word, I prayed, I journaled, and it made a big difference.

Today, my pastor talked about God’s sovereignty. How God has made us, all things, and can do with us and everything He has created as He wills. He doesn’t have to answer to us. We can pour out our hearts to Him about how we feel about what He allows or does… but to question what He does, or the reason behind it, is a problem.

“But who are you, oh man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, Why did you make me like this? Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?” Romans 9:20-21

I realize this morning, just from the sermon and this scripture, that my problem with seeing the beauty in myself physically, outwardly and the beauty inside of me was questioning God. I have been questioning God that He really did make me as anything of worth or beauty. I have been telling God that the things He allowed into my life to refine me and mold me and make me into the creation He wants me to be, for the use He wants me to have… is bad, or is wrong. I have been telling Him that part of His creation, that He loves and has made beautiful, is ugly and has no value.

I have been telling my God and Creator that the pain inflicted on me through someone in college, and all the other things I did or were done to me, made me damaged and ugly. To the point that God couldn’t fix me.

I have been basically telling God that I deserved what I got, that I am ugly and unworthy, damaged and useless. I have told Him that there is no way He could fix this. I have told Him that I hate what I see in the mirror (hate His creation) and that I hate what is inside of me. I have told Him that I am lower than dirt. A broken pot, whose pieces weren’t even worth enough to be used by Job to scrap his skin.

But who am I to tell the Potter that He made me wrong, that I am not usable for whatever purpose He made me, whether noble or common?

In my family group this week, I shared with them that I was really struggling to deal with a situation of another date rape (different than the one I have mentioned here before). That it has been invading my thoughts all week, and really overwhelming me. As they prayed for me, my group leader prayed that God would help me to be able to refocus my thoughts on Christ, and that I would be assured of my worth in Him. He also prayed that I would know how much they all saw Christ’s beauty in me, and that I would see His beauty shining in me myself. That I would recognize the beauty of Christ in me, and that He was showing me beautiful to others. I NEVER SAID A THING about my struggle with beauty and ugliness this week or how this situation was affecting that so directly!

Thank you God for another way You have shown me how You are working. Even in directing people’s prayers for me. I am sorry Lord for saying that something You created is not good. I am sorry for believing the lies. Help me in my unbelief and heal me. Help me to cling to your truth. Help me to not entertain the thoughts and memories of what happened to me, or even my part in them. Help me instead to meditate on Your word, to fill my head and heart with Your truth. Help both Tricia and I to be open to Your Spirit and guidance tomorrow evening, and give me the willingness to let this go, let it be in the past, and move forward with You. Amen.

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