you don’t have to be pretty like her

Facebook
YOUTUBE
PINTEREST
PINTEREST
INSTAGRAM

I have a story.

On one particular Wednesday morning, I was running late for class. Having an hour long commute to school, and an 8 AM class preceded by a 5:45 AM alarm, this not an uncommon occurrence for me.

you-dont-have-to-be-pretty

This morning, like many other mornings, my eyes were doing this really cool and unique thing where one is slightly more open than the other. I can wash my face, I can stretch my eyebrows, I can apply lotion, but nothing solves this problem. It’s great.

So, I have two options: put on a full face of make-up to the point where the smaller eye looks like it’s caved in (not a good option) or wear no make-up at all (a worse option).  On this particularly rushed occasion, I chose the latter.

So I run down the stairs after throwing on an outfit that I’m highly dissatisfied with because it makes me look like a safari tour guide and I begin to make my cup of coffee. My cup brews, so I pull out the milk and pour some in. And then I smell something.

And I look down at the expiration date and realize that I just poured spoiled milk in my coffee.

So no coffee today.

So here I am, no make-up, one eye half closed, unhappy with my outfit, and no coffee. And away to school I go.

In my first class that day, I meet a girl. She’s tall, literally the size of a toothpick, with a beautiful face, hair piled into a cute messy bun, and perfectly polished fingernails. She’s wearing athletic clothing, so she obviously must be in perfect shape, and her blonde straight hair definitely beats out my frizzy, air dried, semi-waves in any kind of imaginary beauty competition.

And I put her image up against my own in my mind. And nearly every ounce of self-esteem I had inside me drains out.

Lies spill into my heart telling me that I am not as pretty as I should be. I don’t try hard enough to look presentable for class. Why do I ever skip the make-up? I know I don’t look good without make-up. I am not who I should be. This girl must have her life completely together, I mean just look at her. She’s probably less clumsy than me, more feminine, more organized. She’s probably happier. Probably never misses an assignment. Probably has a clean room. Probably has a nicer car. The list goes on and on and on…

Unfortunately, this type of situation is not a rare one in my life. And I have a feeling it’s not rare in yours either.

What I’ve been trying to convince myself since that day, and the thought I hope you can sink into your heart is this: You are, by no means, under the obligation to strive to reach someone else’s standards of “perfection”. Because you are not placed on Earth to be someone else. You are not placed on Earth to please anyone else.

Someone else’s beauty does not take away from your own beauty.

Someone else’s skills and abilities do not take away from your own talents.

Someone else’s cute outfit does not take away from your own unique sense of style.

You don’t have to look, talk, dress, or act like that girl. You can look, dress, talk, and act like you.

You don’t have to be pretty like her. You can be pretty like you.

I have another story. It’s about a girl named Leah. Leah was a young woman who always seemed to come in second place to someone else.  The Bible tells us that Leah was pleasant, but her sister Rachel was beautiful (Gen 29:17). When a man named Jacob asked their father, Laban, for a wife, he was promised Rachel, but received Leah instead. When Jacob realized this he said, “What is this thou hast done unto me? Did not I serve with thee for Rachel? Wherefore then hast thou beguiled me?” Not only was Leah not as beautiful as her sister, but she also became a newlywed who was rejected by her own husband.

Don’t you have days that you feel a lot like Leah? Don’t have days when you feel as if you’re always second place to someone else, like you’re supposed to be so much more than you really are?

I have those days too.

God eventually blessed Leah to give Jacob a child. Despite the fact that this man has rejected her, Leah praised and thanked God for blessing her with a child to give Jacob (vs 35). Leah understood something that is should be such a precious reminder for all of us.

Leah understood that she was not placed there to serve people. She was not there to serve Jacob, to please her Father, or to try to live up to her sister’s standards. God placed Leah on Earth to serve and praise Him. And that’s exactly what she did. Leah was not beautiful like Rachel, but she was beautiful because she was a young woman who remained faithful to God and served and praised Him.

When you allow yourself to believe that you are not as good/pretty/skinny as other girls, you begin trying to please people more than you are trying to please God. You are admitting that others’ approval is more valuable to you than God’s approval.

Dear friend, you do not exist to please people around you.

You do not exist to win beauty contests, to win over all the boys, or to win anyone’s approval.

You exist to serve God.

You are not beautiful because of the color of your eyes, the color of your skin, the style of your hair, or the shape of your body. You are beautiful because God created you for Himself. You are beautiful because God is pleased by your praise and faithfulness. You will become so much more content with who you are when you have a firm grasp on what your purpose is- to serve God, to spread love, to honor and worship the One who made you beautifully and perfectly.

Facebook
YOUTUBE
PINTEREST
PINTEREST
INSTAGRAM

writing your own version of success

Facebook
YOUTUBE
PINTEREST
PINTEREST
INSTAGRAM

I have found lately that one of the most common things that people my age worry about is their success. Between conversations with many friends and family members, it seems like everyone spends all their time and energy on “making the mark”. They have to reach the goal. They have to make the grade. They’re worried about graduating on time or what they’ll do after they graduate. And if something doesn’t work out the way they’ve planned it, that automatically means they have failed.

success

The world defines success as: the accomplishment of an aim or purpose; the attainment of popularity or profit; a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity.

That definition of success sits heavily inside me. The thought of my life being measured by whether or not I attain popularity or prosperity places a heavy burden on my heart. If you at the same stage as me in life, there’s a lot of pressure to begin figuring out what your life is going to look like and to start paving your “road to success”. You’ve got your five year plans, and benchmarks, and long term goals.

There’s a weight on a lot of us to make the grade, get the diploma, marry the rich guy, or get the 4.0 GPA. And your joy can easily be consumed by the wave of other people’s success. Other people’s success forces you to try to reach their standard. It causes you to push yourself farther and farther down a path that is eventually going to be damaging to your well-being.

We so often try to reach the mark that other people set for success. We try to measure up to their definition of success, the world’s definition, and not our own.

Well I’m writing my own definition of success. Because I don’t believe that my life is measured in bank accounts or report cards. I believe my life is measured in something less tangible, something that is more easily seen than felt.

I believe my life is measured in love.

My definition of a successful life includes building lasting relationships, learning all I can about life and love and people. It includes soaking in all the life-changing experiences that I can, and learning more about myself and what kind of person I want to be. I want my success to be defined by the moment that I can wholeheartedly announce, “God has been faithful and loving this far, and I trust that He will continue to be for the rest of my days”. I’m deciding that even if I don’t make the grade, have a 4.0 GPA, or get the dream job once I graduate, I will still lay claim to success as I have defined it.

Your definition of success isn’t going to look like everyone else’s. Your success doesn’t have to be measured in dollar amounts, diplomas received, job interviews scored, or trophies placed on your shelf. The success of your life can be measured in people, in the depth of your relationships, in the number of laughing fits that brought you to tears, and in the warmth of good conversations with your people.

I find that the Bible does not place a lot of importance on worldly success.

Colossians 3:12-14 says, “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness”

I cannot find anywhere in the Bible that says “go make lots of money and find a standard 9-5 office job with a three figure salary and only then will you be happy”.

In fact, Luke 12:15 tells me that “a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth”. Your life is not solely made up of the abundance of your riches. Your identity and your worth as a human being can never be placed on the amount of Earthly possessions you have.

That takes the pressure off. That statement alone relieves you of the burden to be successful. The weight of attaining the world’s definition of success can be crushing. It causes you to feel like a failure when you only barely missed the mark. The world’s definition of success will tell you that you’ll always have something or someone to measure up to, and since you fell short this time, that means you’ll always be a failure.

Your life is not measured in possessions.

Your worth is not measured by the success that the world has to offer.

It’s found in love. It’s found in the things penned down in Colossians: kindness, mercy, forgiveness, and patience. That verse in Colossians places importance on who you are, not what you have. Success as the world defines it will drain the life out of you. I wholeheartedly believe that rewriting your definition of success will cultivate more joy in your life that anything else ever could. Because this new definition of success brings you closer to God.

You know when I feel closest to God? When I’m pouring out love, forgiveness, and patience. When I’m kind and when I reach out to those in need. I don’t feel close to God when I’m studying or checking my grades or when my paycheck rolls in. I believe that our success as a person largely has to do with how much of God’s love we can fill ourselves up with, and then how much we can pour out.

At the end of my life I don’t care about being able to say that I made lots of money or had lots of diplomas or medals. I want to be able to say that I touched lives, that I gave love to people who maybe had never received it before, that I helped those in need, and that I poured out God’s love to everyone around me.

Find purpose and meaning in the definition of success that you find in God’s word, and let it sink into your heart. Relieve yourself of the pressure to “measure up” to those around you, and rewrite your own version of success. Remember that your worth is not found in tangible things like a bunch of “important” pieces of paper. Your worth is measured in something that’s a little harder to see, but much easier to feel, and much, much more valuable to God: love.

Facebook
YOUTUBE
PINTEREST
PINTEREST
INSTAGRAM

how to respond when your dreams crumble

Facebook
YOUTUBE
PINTEREST
PINTEREST
INSTAGRAM

I experienced a break up this year.

In March actually. For a little over 12 hours.

break up

As I’ve mentioned in many relationship posts, I’ve learned this year that choosing another imperfect human being to experience life with is not a task for the faint of heart.

It takes more patience, understanding, and forgiveness than I could’ve ever imagined…and we’re only two years in and not even married. So without elaborating on details: conflicting schedules, minimal communication, and semi-long distance caused me to believe that our relationship was falling apart. I trust now that the real reason is that God needed to teach me something.

I know I don’t have to describe this feeling to you. The devastation that swallows your heart when you can feel something failing, whether it’s a relationship, friendship, job prospects, your dream school, scholarship opportunities, basketball try-outs, nursing school admission… whatever you want to fill in the blank with. Feeling lost. Feeling like a disappointment. Wondering what in the world am I even supposed to be doing?

It’s crushing. It’s heartbreaking.

Because you know that you were born to be a nurse…

Because this was your chance to prove your talent…

Because you’ve always dreamed of getting a scholarship to that dream school…

Because you really did love him…

So now what?

Because you felt like this was really God’s plan for you, and everything just fell perfectly into place up until now, and it just felt right, and you were doing so good, and everyone was cheering you on and expecting you to succeed, marry them, get the job, make the team, get into the school or program… Maybe you’ve been dreaming about this your whole life, or maybe it’s something that your parents have always wanted for you, and everyone has these expectations of you to succeed, and now it’s all crumbling.

And now what are you supposed to tell everyone? You’ll have to explain to everyone what happened and what you did wrong. You’ll have to let everyone down. They’ll be disappointed. They’ll say, “well, it was never going to work out anyways”. Everyone will wonder, just like you are, how something that seemed so perfect just fell apart. You’ll have to explain to everyone just exactly how you failed.

But here’s the new hope that you need to let sink your heart: sometimes God lets things fall apart, so He can put them back together.

I think failure shifts our focus. It makes us ask:

What went wrong?

Was it something I could’ve done better?

What can I learn from this?

How could God be preparing me for something?

What other plans could God have for my life?

That dream school may put you in a place that distracts you from God. Those countless rejection letters are only proof that God is saving you for something better. That friendship crumbled because they were no longer building you up, maybe they were pulling you down. Maybe God was giving you room for new friendships. Maybe God needs your focus somewhere more important than that sports team that you “weren’t good enough” for.

When my dreams crumbled, a new, greater hope was eventually placed in my heart: giving your hopes and dreams over to God is the absolute best way to guarantee a joyful, meaningful life.

God called me to let go of something that I had made my idol, something that I had wrapped my entire life around. He ended something that had become my only source of fulfillment. When I put my hopes and dreams in His hands, and I did what He was calling me to do, He built our relationship back up in a much more beautiful and Godly way.

I’m not saying that God is always going to give you back what you lost. In my specific situation, He did. But that isn’t necessarily true for all cases. He may build your plans back on a completely and totally different pathway than you started out with, or He may put you back on the same path with a lesson learned. You have to trust that He has your best interest in mind. Because He does. And when your plans crumble, that doesn’t always mean you failed. It just might mean that God needs to redirect your path.

In these months that have followed our break up, we have grown in our faith and beliefs as well as our love for each other. We’ve learned to love each other in a more Godly way, we’ve learned more about each other’s needs, and much more about our Savior and the place He holds in our relationship. I’ve learned that a relationship with another person, no matter who it is, can never be my only source of fulfillment. I’ve learned that when my relationship becomes an idol in my heart, it actually does more harm than good for both people involved.

Allowing something that you’ve invested months, years, or maybe even a lifetime into to crumble may be one of the most difficult and earth-shattering things you’ll ever have to do. But coming through to the other side of the heartache, where God’s plan is waiting for you, provides an immeasurable amount of joy and peace.

When you face the heartache knowing that God may be using it to build you something greater, it becomes something strangely beautiful. And I cannot begin to explain what it feels like to experience the blessings that God gives once you decide to follow where He leads. You cannot imagine the joy, peace, and contentment that I feel knowing that putting my trust in God created something beautiful.

Each and every one of us will experience failures throughout our whole life. I hesitate to make the claim that everything happens for a reason, but I am convinced that absolutely everything about your life is subject to God’s control. The heartaches and crushed plans don’t seem so devastating when you can put total hope and confidence in God’s providence in your life.

And trusting in God’s providence gives you this new hope: maybe things only fall apart so God can put them back together His way.

 

 

Facebook
YOUTUBE
PINTEREST
PINTEREST
INSTAGRAM