Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I am dark but lovely.

 No not literally. I'm not dark. I'm a bit sunburned on my back and shoulders, but not to the point where I qualify as "dark". I've always been mostly white with a subtle pink hue. No big deal there.

But I came across a verse in the Bible from the book of Song of Songs where a woman is saying that she is "dark but lovely"... and today I relate to this lady.

Back in her day it wasn't beautiful to be dark, it was more lovely to be pale, because to be dark resembled a servant (working in the sun) but to be pale showed that you were of class and stature.

She is saying "I am dark but lovely" because she is trying to "woo" the man she fancies, and in expressing those words to him, she is revealing a bit of the shame that she feels for being so dark. She hopes he will overlook her darkness, and see her loveliness. 

I know that feeling, where I have to convince myself not to be insecure about something, that I am secretly feeling EXTRA insecure about.

If she wasn't super aware of her own skin tone she wouldn't have even mentioned being so dark, she'd just confidently flaunt the fact that she was sun kissed and unique. But no. She's feeling it.

Well I'm feeling it too... today I have been EXTRA aware of my own weaknesses. To a fault actually. I got to a point around lunch time where I honestly wanted to hide from the people around me, and I was all too grateful for the opportunity to leave the conference I am attending this week, and take a couple friends to the doctor for the afternoon.

Actually I was pretty anxiety-ridden at dinner too, when I went back to the conference for the evening session. It got so bad that I excused myself and used Shaun's iPhone to search for the nearest Starbucks so I could get away and go gather my thoughts.

I feel embarrassed that it got so bad.

But now that I've been sitting here at Starbucks for about an hour, I feel like I'm getting a bit of perspective that will hopefully help me go back into the conference and be my normal self.

"I am dark but lovely."

So one of the main reasons I get so insecure around all of these people at the conference is because they are amazing. These people are full of faith. Loud. Bold. Sometimes they make me slightly uncomfortable because of it... But then again when God is using them to literally heal people right in front of my face, I think they are doing something right.

Somehow when I get around them I feel like I'm failing because I feel so different from them.

That feeling reminds me of the struggle I sometimes have when I'm working with the gorgeous people in the fashion industry. They're amazing too. Physically perfect. Beautiful. Faithful. Brave. Responsible.

Somehow when I get around them I feel like I'm failing because I feel so different from them.

Two totally different groups of people. Same tormenting feeling within me. In both settings I feel like hiding, quitting.. and eventually seeking out something that will numb the turmoil within my heart.

I'm just so very aware of the dark spots in my heart. My weaknesses. My shortcomings. My desire for people to want me. My lust. My insecurity. Even physically... my pimples... my spider veins... my not-so-super-model-shaped-body.

When the darkness of these thoughts floods my mind... I feel ashamed and unworthy.

Then comes God. With His sweet... quiet... yet oh-so-real voice of truth..

"You are dark but lovely"

I like that. He doesn't say I'm not dark... meaning that I am without fault. Because if he said that, I might think He doesn't actually know me. I might strive to "act" like I'm perfect and faultless because I'd think that's what He expected of me, but really inside I'd probably suffocate because of how far I am from perfect. The disconnect from my true self and the person I was pretending to be would eventually be too much for me to handle.

But I feel safe when I realize that God knows me. He knows my every struggle. He sees my every sinful tendency. He is completely aware of all of them. Yet He still calls me lovely.

I don't have to feel ashamed of my shortcomings, and I don't have to withdraw from people because I feel unworthy.

Because the God of the universe has looked upon my life and chosen me. I am enough for Him. I am dark but lovely. I have faults, but they don't negate my loveliness in the sight of God.

In life, we have a tendency as people to look at our "shortcomings" (whether real or imaginary) and allow them to count us out. We set ourselves up to try and 'earn' a position because in our hearts we don't feel like we actually have it.

it looks like this:

I would be beautiful IF I lost 5 pounds.
I would be a real baseball player IF I made this team or pitched at this speed.
I would be a real dancer IF I dance like this person.
I would be a successful and creative business owner IF I sold this amount of product.
I would be good at writing IF I had this many followers on my blog.
I would be wanted IF this many people liked my photo on instagram.
I would be a great leader, influencing people and changing lives, IF I were this well-known.

We don't believe we are worthy. We live life trying to prove that we are good enough. Sometimes we actually think we are trying to prove it to other people, as if they are the ones who don't believe we can do it, when in reality the only one who needs convincing is us.

I hear kids say to Shaun.. "No man, I'm not really a skater"...
Even though they literally just rolled up on a board, and are now holding the skateboard in their hand!
They say it though because in their mind a "real skater" requires something that they don't feel they've attained.
I love Shaun's response though, he always says, "Well, do you love to skate?"
"Yeah man I love to skate."
"Perfect, then you're a real skater."

I need a little bit of that perspective in my life tonight.

I am the first one to count myself out of things...
No it doesn't make sense that God uses me to love on a fashion model, I'm not a model.
No it doesn't make sense that I am training in dance, or that I use dance to entertain people, I don't have good technique.
No it doesn't make sense for me to teach on relationships, I sometimes lust after guys other than Shaun.
No it would be crazy for me to teach on identity, I am daily battling to find my own.
No it is silly to think God would use me at all, I'm a big bundle of issues.

But then I hear it,

"Hey Jess, Do you love Jesus?"

"Yeah... and I want to love Him more."

"Perfect, then you're qualified."

That's just it. I can have peace because I'm enough. No more striving. No more feeling like I'm behind.

I just surrender myself. My life. My weaknesses. My strengths. My fears. My dreams. My desires. All of it. Into the loving hands of a God who is passionate about doing life with me.
And I watch Him work miracles in me and through me. Even all around me.

Safe in the protection and security of His love is where I find myself standing confidently alongside the woman in Song of Songs saying,

"I am dark, but [SO] lovely. " (I added the "so) :)

Meet my adorable nieces Rose & Sasha. They are my brother's daughters and I love them. They live in Montana. So cute! 


Anonymous said...

Hello from Switzerland. Thank you for being always so true and honest about yourself and your struggles in life. I have come to a point in my life where I really struggle to define who I am or what I want to do with myself and my life desperately thirsting for God but not knowing where to look for him, and the reading of your posts is a daily breathe of fresh air and encouragement to the lost girl I currently feel I am. I love reading you because I can relate but also question sometimes and meditate on your ideas and thoughts. Tomorrow I will try to keep that in my mind "I am dark but lovely" and see if it can help me change my perspective on the things I'll live during this day.Thanks again for sharing, your testimony is precious.

thefreespirit said...

AHHHH! I really love this, totally needed it today. Well, actually, I need it every day. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Oh jessica! Thank you for writing this-it saved my day! Love you - rebecca åkesson

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Sis.

Melany said...

I hope you realize how awesome you are and how much God is using you to speak encouragement to others. I definitely needed to read this. Thanks for sharing your heart :-)

Aly @ mommie diaries said...

this is beautiful, Jess. i do this to myself all the time too. feeling quite lovely after reading this ;)

i stopped by to let you know you won the giveaway to my shop (blossomandvine.etsy.com) on Leslie's blog (top of the page). feel free to just reply to this comment through email, or contact me through my shop or email me at alysonrallen [at] gmail [dot] com to let me know what you want as your prize :)

Aly | blossom & vine

Paul said...

Great words. Written well. Dark but Lovely is what Mike Bickle calls the Paradox of Grace. Enjoyed your post.