Saturday, December 22, 2012

A very merry affair.

We are in Michigan! Hooray! My Christmas dreams are coming true! Snow! Lights! Family! Friends! Hot drinks! Cozy clothes! Even a life-size gingerbread house! It's all so beautiful!

Every other year Shaun's brothers and their wives come spend Christmas with Shaun's fam. This is one of those years! Our niece Siri is almost 2 years old and her mom, Megan, is weeks away from welcoming the next little baby Hover into the world. (I am definitely praying that baby will come while we are here!)

I feel like there are a million things I want to tell you. Like about the Models For Christ Christmas party last week... Or the amazing story of the celebrity Shaun and I prayed with Tuesday night... Or our flight here and the precious people we met on the way...

But instead I'm going to share something less glamorous... Less sparkly... And honestly even a bit embarrassing for me. I'm going to share AGAIN about a recent struggle I've had and the way God has met me in it.

A large part of my time is spent talking with girls about the painful things they face in life. We sit, often over coffee, and I listen as these beauties share their aching hearts with me. Often their hurts involve messy relationships with guys. Splintered friendships with girls. Fear of the future. Lack of finances. Dreams that have yet to come true. Loss. Insecurity. Body image issues... You understand. No matter how good our circumstances are, we all have areas that need a little extra love.

Well recently God has allowed me to spend time hearing the struggles of some brilliantly beautiful professional models. They bravely relayed to me the negative messages they have heard about themselves in castings, from different agents, and even from random people online who felt it necessary to write negative things about their photographs. Critics have literally picked apart their bodies. From head to toe- someone has something bad to say about every part of them. For wisdom's sake I will not tell you some of the specific things they have been told... Because I wouldn't want any of you to go looking for your own supposed "flaws". But you can trust that the words they have heard cut them deeply... And somehow I am believing God to use me to help restore them back to truth.

So this leads me to my own struggle... After I listened to these girls share... I started to hold myself to the same impossible standard that they have been held to. It was subtle, but none-the-less, I started to be my own disgusting critic. For the last few weeks I have been quietly picking myself apart, trying to believe God's truth, but actually allowing the devil to tell me what "beauty" is. I allowed situations to tell me whether or not I
was beautiful, rather than standing firmly in what God had already told me about that.

It was crazy but I seriously started to question every part of myself. Nothing about me met "the standard" of beauty that was in my head. I began to treat as ugly the very things I have been affirmed in over and over.

Anxiety set in. Insecurity. Fear.
Typical symptoms of satan being involved.

So when did it all finally surface?

Last Monday. We were quickly ordering our Christmas cards online from Walmart, before driving to Santa Monica to pick up furniture that had been donated to us.

The silent pressure in me to be beautiful had convinced me that the ONLY way to prove I was really lovely was to take good photos. I had two photographer friends offering to take Christmas pictures- but we had been so busy we couldn't use either of them. This meant that ordering Christmas cards was a rushed event, quickly trying to find pictures from this fall that were nice enough to send to our loved ones. By the end of ordering them both Shaun and I were totally drained AND I still felt unattractive.

As we drove to Santa Monica I cried. Poor sweet Shaun was probably confused- But God had used the Christmas card situation to surface the garbage I had been suppressing. Because I felt devastated that I was sending photos that weren't my favorite. Not that they were bad, I just didn't think they were special enough. I had hoped for photos that would wow people... But these were just normal photos. Seriously God is so good, He was showing me that I was trying to prove my beauty through a silly photo, rather than trust Him with my beauty.

I explained my mixed up feelings to Shaun and the Lord used his precious wisdom to set me back on track. By the end of our 30 minute drive I felt free, confident in my beauty again, and I'm pretty sure the devil felt kicked in the face.

In order to keep this post from being a novel. I will split it up. See the next post for some treasured wisdom that the Lord has been teaching me. But all in all I have just been reminded how much I need Jesus. Sure He gives me amazing opportunities to pour into people that in my opinion are some of this world's most incredible... But it has nothing to do with me. I have a whole mess of my own issues. But Jesus still uses me. He teaches me and enables me to teach others... Because in doing that, He gets all the glory. I never have to wonder if I'm qualified to do the things I'm doing, because I know that really I'm not qualified at all. But then again, because I know it's ALL God, then I actually am totally qualified. Because He will be faithful to work through me.

"26 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy[g] when God called you. 27 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. 28 God chose things despised by the world,[h] things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. 29 As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God." from 1 Cor. 1

And now I know to be on guard more when I'm ministering to people, because I'm not strong. I'm just as weak as the rest of us. If I am going to minister to fashion professionals I need to guard my mind just like they do... So together we can live according to the truth of God's Word and not fall into deception.

And now here are a few photos from the MFC Christmas party in Hollywood last week. They don't tell the whole story but you will be able to see that it was a very merry affair :)

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