Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Beautiful Mess (The one where I was ugly.)

The lighting in an airplane bathroom is not kind.  Neither is motherhood.  The haggard reflection of an unshowered woman with vomit down the front of her shirt, purple circles under her eyes, and a squirming two year old under her arm stared back at me blankly from the mirror.

An hour earlier I was feeling a little melodramatic rolling through the terminal after an exhausting week of time change, sick kids, and long days full of activity (aka “vacation”).   Finally heading home, my arms and elbows were full of bags and children as our family moved awkwardly through the busy airport. I could not help but notice the business women, wearing heels and packing light.  Some of them sat in cafes, alone, with a glass of wine and business at hand. “I used to be like you once, business women.” I thought.  “I was beautiful and important.  You would simply cry if you knew how little separates you from this encumbered mess walking by.”

I’m sure some of those women were actually loving moms who had seen their own fair share of late nights and yoga pants; but in that moment I felt jealous of their solitude, beauty, and professionalism.  I finally got to my gate and squeezed my awkward mess of diaper bags and clinging children through the narrow walking aisle of the plane. The flight was very hard.

That’s when I ended up face to face with the reflection of the worn woman in the mirror.  That gross little airplane bathroom became the place where this blessed, happy mom who adores her children and loves playing with bubbles and sidewalk chalk was ready to give it all up. That blank stare from the greasy girl who couldn’t even go pee by herself really got me.  People used to say I was pretty.  

I was praying my way through that entire flight starting from my flashes of jealousy and insecurity in the terminal.  Painfully, my feelings of being “unseen and unheard” felt amplified by Gods silence over those hours.  I couldn’t kick the ache in my heart that I had become an unattractive, unimportant woman.

We made it home.  Barely.

I finally got a few precious moments to myself, so I took out my Bible Study homework.  30 minutes later I was on the floor, bawling my eyes out and laughing with God over His “silence” and all of that vomit. 

Here’s what I learned that changed my life:

  •      I want to be beautiful because that’s how God made me.
  •          I am beautiful.
  •          Love (even when it looks like vomit) is beautiful.
  •          True Beauty is Messy.

I want to be beautiful because that’s how God made me.

I feel like on the subject of beauty, inner beauty gets a lot of time (Proverbs 31:30, 1 Peter 3:3-4). I understand that those purple circles under my eyes are “beautiful” in that abstract way of symbolizing the hours I was up rocking my child the night before.  I still hate them.  I still want a shower. 

I’m so glad that it isn’t shallow to want to be beautiful.  God created beauty, He created humans to appreciate physical and natural beauty (SOS 4:1), and has destined me to one day be a beautiful bride in heaven.  Of course my heart longs for that.  The problems only start when I look for anyone other than God to affirm my beauty.

I am beautiful.

Thankfully, God affirms my beauty any chance I ask Him. He died to be with me, his love for me is etched across the history of the universe.  There is a prophetic story about a royal wedding in the Psalms that points to the day when we will be the bride of our King in Heaven.  The stunning bride to be and her entire wedding party enter the palace with joy and gladness.  She has been told, “The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor Him, for he is your Lord.” (Psalm 45:11).

Before this day is over, you walk over to your bathroom mirror.  Allow the reflections of any unscrubbed showers or cluttered vanities to remain in the background.  Look that woman staring back at you in the eye.  You tell her: “The King is enthralled by your beauty; honor Him, for He is your Lord”. 

Take time in prayer to ask God if you are beautiful.  Allow all of the hurtful things people have said, negative images swirling in your mind, or lies of being ugly and worthless to surface.  Ask God to sweep them away like a cloud so that you can find your most beautiful reflection in His eyes alone.

Love (even when it looks like vomit) is beautiful.

One day we get to be brides again.  God has been planning this wedding feast for ages and has every last detail perfected (Revelation 19:6-8).  Our dress is being sewn together as I type, bright linen white and clean made possible by the ultimate sacrifice of love (Isaiah 1:18).  The linen itself is “the righteous acts of the saints” (Revelation 19:8). 

We won’t contribute anything borrowed or blue to our heavenly gown, but when we choose righteousness in the form of love we are weaving eternal threads into our own beauty in heaven.  When I hold my (vomiting) child close because I choose to honor God in my motherhood, serve without complaining, and love someone else more than myself that is not inner beauty- it is eternal beauty.

True beauty is messy. 

Jesus came to “give us a crown of beauty instead of ashes” (Isaiah 61:3). 

It isn’t until we look at our heads (possibly in the mirror of an airplane bathroom) and see the messy ashes of grieving our lost selves, youthful beauty, or sense of importance that we can truly appreciate what it means for the Prince of Heaven to place a crown on our heads and say “Marry me, my darling. I am enthralled by your beauty.