Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Daffodils- What can a flower teach us about our beauty?

I brought them each a little bundle of daffodils last night. Bright, hopeful little daffodils all ready to be enjoyed. As I watched each of my precious friends adore the flowers, I felt God teaching me a new and magnificent piece of truth about His design for beauty. 

After I had given the women their flowers, we placed them in a cup and set them on a table nearby, then we continued on with our conversations. As we chatted, more friends came over and interestingly enough, they all commented in one way or another about the flowers. One sweet friend sarcastically joked that she doesn't like flowers, she'd rather be given a stone. Another friend chimed in that she would be interested in taking a bundle of flowers home if I ended up with extra. At a glance it would not be a big deal that the ladies were noticing the daffodils, but I was silently struck by it. As the minutes passed, no matter where the conversation went, it always went back to the flowers... their beauty.. their color... the joy that they brought. Everyone loved the beauty of the flowers. 

What is it about beauty that does this to us? How does beauty make us feel? In order to communicate the point I want to make, I will continue to use flowers as a symbol for beauty. 

What does a flower make us feel? Flowers bring hope, when someone needs encouragement it is common to give them a bouquet of some kind. Flowers offer comfort, that is why we gave our grandma roses when our grandpa passed away. Flowers can invoke romance- the joy of being wanted or pursued, they make us feel safe and remind us that God cares about details. When we allow ourselves time to marvel at the wonder of flowers , we are inevitably awestruck by the detail of appearance, fragrance, and even their function, as they provide nourishment for birds and bees alike. “Look at the lilies and how they grow … if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t he more surely care for you?...” (Matthew 6:28-30 NLT). If God cares so much to create flowers in such great detail, He must care about the details in our life. A field of wildflowers makes us feel free, lilacs remind us of our childhood, roses remind us of Grandma, and daisies remind us to smile. In essence, flowers bring life. 

We see then that God's design for beauty is that it would bring us life. That is so important to know as women. As females we were designed to bear the beauty of His being, and even if we don't understand that, we probably feel it in our ongoing desire to be lovely and attractive. However, sometimes our pure desire to be seen as lovely gets skewed from the pressure from our culture that deines beauty in a way that is very different from God's definition. 

GOD HAS A DESIGN FOR BEAUTY. JESUS CARES ABOUT BEAUTY. GOD IS THE GOD OF BEAUTY. Isn't that reassuring? It is easier to understand that God is the God of church, or the God of justice, or the God of holiness... but we don't always hear that God is the God of beauty. But He is. He loves beauty. He created it to be enjoyed, He made it for our pleasure and for our rest. God wants beauty to bring us life.

Does your beauty bring life? Like the aesthetics of a flower- does your beauty bring comfort and joy, safety, does it bring hope and encouragement, does it inspire freedom? I was with two friends last night and can tell you confidently that their beauty brought me life. Emma's beauty brought great joy. In the process of putting on her make-up she had a make-up disaster and openly reapplied her make-up in the car as we were on our way to Models For Christ. Emma did not hide herself and she did not allow her lack of make-up to steal her from spending time with us and sharing her heart. By the time we arrived at MFC her make-up was flawless... but it had no power over her. Her concealer and eyeliner were just a tool that she enjoyed, they were not what determined whether or not she was beautiful. Bethany Gunn's beauty brought freedom too. She was herself, wild and free. As she authentically lived as her wild self, I felt free to be myself too. Bethany cared about her physical appearance, but it was obvious she cared about the people around her even more. Her appearance, though stunning, was secondary to everything else going on in the moment. 

My beauty used to be very unsafe. I don't know if you felt it, but it certainly was. I was always striving to be thin.. and tan.. and have white teeth..., I was comparing, and always wishing I was different. Being in my presence could have easily made you feel like you were not enough, I didn't intend for it to be that way but the voice that screamed into my mind daily was that I was not enough and it probably overflowed to the people around me. On the other hand, I have experienced the type of beauty that makes me feel safe. Angela Jacobsen. That girl would pick me up on the way to school singing Usher songs at the top of her lungs, wearing sweats and a head full of hot curlers, she had no concern for what people thought of her attire. One day she would dress like like a star, with perfectly placed clothes and hair and nail polish... the next she would sport no make-up and a t-shirt and somehow her personality never wavered. She was just as confident one day as the next. She made me feel safe because she appreciated my physical appearance and yet she never gave it too much power. She lived in a way that showed that the way we look is wonderful and a huge gift to be enjoyed, and yet it is really nothing and hardly reflects our inward beings. She could laugh at her blemishes and yet she still thoroughly delighted in looking pretty. Her beauty was safe. 

When we are in turmoil over our appearance, agonizing over our aspiration to reach an impossible state of perfection, we are no longer bringing life. In those moments of anxiety over our size and shape and color, we invite others to feel anxious over their imperfections. When we dress in a way that is selfish, a way that is motivated by wanting other people to lust after us, then we are no longer allowing God's beauty to flow through us. God is the Comforter, Healer, Redeemer, Provider, Friend, Counselor, Father, Beautiful One, and Lover. People will feel these attributes of God through our beauty and the way we carry ourselves. But if our sense of beauty stops at our cleavage and a short mini-skirt, then people won't see God, they simply see us. Not even the real us..but just the shell that we live in for our 80ish years on this planet. 

God desires that people see us and praise our Father in heaven. That doesn't mean we always wear Jesus shirts and we tattoo the Jesus fish on our bicep... that means we carry ourselves, in both appearance and attitude, in a way that offers others the same life that beautiful flowers offer. Hope, joy, peace, comfort, freedom and love. 

Wear make-up, work-out, eat sugar, skip sugar, dress well.. or don't.. whatever... its not so much about that. But know that your physical appearance is a gift and God is ready to use it to bring enjoyment to the people around you. Just like the daffodils brought enjoyment to my friends. 


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