It encouraged me and I thought it might encourage you too.
This week was a good one. Most of my mornings were spent teaching a flock of skateboarders in their 20-somethings on the topic of Identity. On Monday night I had a potluck dinner with some wonderful friends who all work in Fashion & Entertainment. We ate yummy food, caught up on life's latest and prayed together for people working in their industries to experience the life they were created for - full of hope, anchored in peace, and free from the things that destroy them. One night Shaun and I hung out with our new favorite blogger friend until almost midnight. We watched youtube videos, learned about Twitter, and talked about how to be "good" at social media. We also talked about how she is not "all about that bass". She gave me some cute new clothes and some argan oil for my face which was extra delightful, and Shaun talked her into giving him some perfume that he could give me later as a gift. He gave it to me and I love it. I'm wearing it now. On Tuesday I finished writing a story that will be published in a devotional book for what might be the most amazing college ministry that I know of, maybe there are cooler ones, but this one is definitely the one I would want to join. I mean their website is gorgeous. Wednesday night Shaun and I had dinner with friends who started a non-profit and want to partner with Shaun in his work here in LA. The latter part of the week included a Bible study in north Hollywood, some one-on-one dates with girls I get the privilege of loving and encouraging, and the opportunity to hear a successful missionary/university leader/Bible translator guy tell stories about times when God used little ordinary people to do big extraordinary things. And my favorite day is writing day, which is today, right now even. See. Its been a good week. That's my instagram week. The one I would take cute photos of and filter perfectly and write adorable little captions about how #grateful I am for everything I get to do.
And then there's the other details of the week. Like how everyday after I would teach I would feel really insecure and kind of lonely and I'd start questioning the stuff I said. I also felt really unsure of my appearance this week, in the way that when you look yourself in the mirror it feels a little like the crazy mirror at the carnival because your eyes are all confused and you can't tell if you look great and fashionable or if you look old and fluffy. Poor Shaun had to endure multiple interrogations, "Do you think I look beautiful?.... but what about my clothes?... but what about my skin?... but do I look silly?... but what about my hair?" Yep friends. That's right. The girl teaching on Identity, preaching about value, praying for those who are paid to be beautiful... is still pondering in her heart whether she looks plain and old or something better that she... I... just can't see right. Shaun and I also had a rough night Wednesday. He was exhausted and overwhelmed, I was selfish and annoyed, and he left the key in the ignition while he was at work so the car battery died and he was on the phone with Verizon for about a million hours while we were trying to jump the car which made the night even more irritating. By Thursday I was exhausted and my mind was tumbling around like a dryer with thoughts of all the stuff I should be doing better and all of the opportunities I am missing and all of the things I thought would be different about my life right now. (Which is actually what made Bible study refreshing because it was so important to remember that God desires for me to feel alive, not dead under the weight of "should"s.) And now it's today and now I'm here writing, but before I could get words onto the screen I spent several hours getting words onto journal pages, scribbling and doodling and praying and longing for God to make some sense of my wandering heart. I didn't exercise much this week. I didn't eat great this week. And Shaun and I weren't extra adoring of each other this week either. So those are the parts of my week that didn't make it to instagram and they wouldn't make it to my blog either if I didn't think there was purpose in it.
I'm not crazy in saying that the week was good, because it really was. I'm also not crazy for revealing the lows of my week, because I really did feel them, and as yucky as they felt, they really didn't replace the goodness in my week. It's just that life is sometimes like that, a complicated blend of really good and really bad, and the choice presents itself: will we set our eyes on the good or allow our unfortunate tendency to focus only on the bad reign in our hearts?
I like instagram. I like how close it makes me feel to friends far away. I like feeling like I have met Lucy Harper or like I was there when @bethaknee went to Japan. I love seeing #annaheavenly make her cute Swiss-Asian faces, and I love seeing her beautiful mama be a beautiful mama. But I don't like it when people feel discouraged when they look at my instafeed because comparison has convinced them that they are somehow "missing it"and I am somehow not. I only know the feeling because I have felt it too, looking at your photos, and I have had to remind myself that I am just fine over here. I'm doing my very best to love well and lead faithfully and serve wholeheartedly, and that is enough.
I'm thankful for instagram filters and how they can take great moments and make them worthy of picture frames. They're the coolest. But perhaps what I need is a filter in my heart that can take the normal, mundane, less than photogenic moments, and make them significant, because the more I know of God, the more I realize that they are significant. The struggles, the questions, the doubts, the selfish nights, the grumpy husbands, the dead car batteries, they are all important. They are opportunities for growth. Opportunities for faith. Moments when I don't feel God make it more meaningful when I still choose to trust Him. Those are the glory moments.
It's the times when I don't feel beautiful but I choose confidence and security anyway because I choose to believe that being made in the image of a beautiful God makes "not beautiful" not an option. It's the times when I choose to wake up an hour early to make breakfast for my husband who was being difficult the night before because I meant it when I promised to love him for better or for worse. It's the times when I teach, and preach, and pray according to what is true, and when I rest and trust and love according to truth too. As I choose to filter my experiences with the truth of God's Word my feelings will come into alignment.
"Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." Romans 12:2 (NLT)