Pride

From the Archives: Mirror, Mirror

A post on beauty and vanity as something more than a reason to be pitied or a Bible study topic.

Originally published: 2/24/17




You’re beautiful. (Or handsome – girls aren’t the only ones who struggle with their looks) The problem is, it can be hard for you to see that. You know that one friend of yours is prettier and that other one wears nicer clothes. So, if you’re not up to that standard yet, how could you even consider yourself beautiful?

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. – Proverbs 31:30

We’ve all heard the verse. Every time the topic of beauty comes up, someone reminds us that it isn’t all there is to this life. Of course we know that. So why are we still so concerned with our looks?

I’m writing this for me as much as anybody else because this is something I’ve struggled with for a long time. I envy the girl that hasn’t. Why shouldn’t I do what I can to become prettier? It would make me feel better and I want to look good to the people around me.

Hm. I want to look good to the people around me.

Since when has that been the right reason to do anything? We all know this, too. Don’t change yourself for other people. But we still want to.

If we know all these things, why do we still want so badly to be beautiful (or at least reach the point where we consider ourselves beautiful)? We know it’s deceitful and vain and we know that we shouldn’t be trying to impress other people with our looks. But we still want to.

It all comes down to sin. (Doesn’t everything?)

Vanity is not okay. Vanity is nothing more than pride – it’s caring about what other people think about our looks. In most cases, vanity is also dissatisfaction with the bodies God’s given us. We wish we had bigger eyes, clearer skin, straight hair. Then we would be pretty enough.

I was recently given a prayer journal and told to write in it every day. It’s helping me to grow in my prayer life and, I think, my relationship with God. Which means it’s made me realize some things about myself that I’m not too happy about. One of those is my vanity. I wrote out a prayer asking God to take it from me. I really wanted it to just disappear. Then about a week later (when my pride hadn’t just vanished), I wrote out a different prayer. This was one of confession.

Because vanity is a sin, we can’t just act like it’s only a problem common to teenage girls and it’s not really a big deal or just something we should be pitied for. It is a big deal. We are telling God that we are not satisfied with the bodies he lovingly crafted for us; that we would rather humans think us beautiful than our Maker. And that’s wrong.

At the same time though, vanity doesn’t just disappear into thin air, never to be seen again. We can want it to, but it’s a process. We don’t grow all at once.

So while we’re all growing together, let’s all remember together that we are beautiful in God’s eyes. Cheesy? Maybe. But you know it’s true. And you know that charm is deceitful and you know you don’t have to make yourself look different for other people. Our bodies are for honoring God, not gaining attention.

Mirror mirror, mirror on the wall

Telling those lies, pointing out your flaws

That isn’t who you are, that isn’t who you are.

It might be hard to hear but let me tell you dear

If you could see what I could see I know you would believe

That isn’t who you are, there’s more to who you are!

…I see you dressed in white, every wrong made right.

I see a rose in bloom at the sight of you, oh so priceless!

Irreplaceable, unmistakable, incomparable,

Darling it’s beautiful. I see it all in you

Oh so priceless!

– “Priceless” For King and Country

(and no spoilers – I haven’t seen the movie yet 🙂 )

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

See you later, beautiful.

Kira

How does vanity get in the way of your life? What can you replace it with?

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From the Archives: Mask

I wrote this post about six months after I was finally able to open up to people in order to become closer to them and to grow myself. I’m still a firm believer in breaking the mask.

Originally published: 12/9/16


Are we happy plastic people?

Under shiny plastic steeples?

With walls around our weakness?

And smiles that hide our pain…

I’ve worn a smile that hides my pain more than I care to admit. And the walls around my weakness? Yep, been there. The mask of plastic? Worn it.

Casting Crowns’ Stained Glass Masquerade does quite a good job of capturing just what it is to hide your true self behind a mask.

And I don’t mean that stuff about who you really are in a Disney way. I mean it in a Christian way. Even though I had the head knowledge that I could exchange man’s judgement for God’s, I didn’t believe it until this past summer.

“Yeah, okay, I’m being who God wants me to be. I don’t worry about what other people think about me because I don’t have to.”

Right. That’s what I told people. “It’s all under control.”

But that’s part of the mask. It’s not all under control. At any given point in time, something’s not going to be perfect, but why does anyone else need to know that? I just kept it inside. As I smiled and said I was doing splendidly, my inside voice whisper-screamed, “No! I’m not okay! I can’t do this any more!”

That’s one I thought over and over again. “I can’t do this any more!” Meaning school, friends, church, family. It’s exhausting to be acting constantly. But guess who I told? No one. Because what if they judged me? What if they had it all together and I would just look bad if I told them I didn’t?

It turns out, no one has it all together. And it also turns out that a lot of other people don’t want to share their problems either. That’s what I learned this summer. Written like that, it looks pretty depressing. But when you add the third thing I learned, it sounds a little more comforting.

Everything is better when you share your life with other people.

They can pray for you, they can hold you accountable, they can comfort you. The people around you are struggling too. And they want to help.

I refused to realize that completely until this summer. When I had to, I would give some small struggle that wasn’t really the whole picture. I thought that would fool people. It didn’t. When I finally opened up this summer, or, rather, took off the mask, I found out that you can’t actually hide yourself from the people who love you and that it’s not worth it to try.

I don’t have some huge climax to this story, but I will tell you that it’s made my life so much better to let other people see that I’m only human. I feel free – I’m not locked behind an image that I wanted the world to see. Now I can actually care what God thinks. And people still love me.

But if the invitation’s open

to every heart that has been broken,

maybe then we close the curtain

on our stained glass masquerade.

Kira

Is there anyone you can open up to? Do you find it easier to bear your burdens when others know them?

From the Archives: Reasons and Excuses

This is a more recent post written after a long stretch of not blogging. It is sort of an examination of why that was and why it was wrong, all coming around to God’s work in the lives of His people.

Originally published: 12/1/16


If I were so inclined, I could produce a plethora of reasons (insert: “excuses”) as to why I haven’t written anything in the past few (ahem, five) months.

Fortunately for you, I am not so inclined.

I will, however, state one reason (do not insert “excuse” here): I haven’t had anything to write about.

I’m completely serious. The author wannabe hasn’t had a single thing to write about in nearly five months now. Not counting, of course, a few e-mails and texts and things of that nature. Though I will admit I am abominably slow at replying to such things. Oh, and homework. Who could forget a lovely thing like that?

But I haven’t had anything to say on here, on this blog. As you likely know, I usually write things like fiction, anecdotes from my real life, and ways that God’s been working on me.

Ah, ways that God’s been working on me. Such a lovely thing to ponder… Wait a minute. If I haven’t had anything to say on any of those topics for almost half a year, does that mean He’s just stopped? I’m no longer growing? I’ve finally reached that point of perfection so long sought after?

I’m not going to insult your intelligence by trying to convince you of that. No one’s perfect, believe it or not, and I’m pretty sure it’s a safe bet to say you believe that.

So why the drought of words? If I haven’t become the epitome of all that is beautiful and pure in the world, why have I had nothing to say on the subject of anything lately? Has God given up on me? Is that it? He threw up His hands in disgust and left to work on some holier project?

Um, no.

I can tell you with 100% certainty that God hasn’t given up on me. If Jesus went all the way to the point of death on the cross for me while I was still as dead as a person can get in my sin, why would He stop molding me to His image now? The thing is, He wouldn’t.

So that brings me back to my original question. What happened to all the thoughts that I normally transform so eagerly into sentences to push out into the wide wide world to be read by people who aren’t me and my imaginary friends?

I’ll tell you what happened. It wasn’t that I didn’t have anything to say. Nope. Just ask my sister, I’ve been talking probably more than ever since the July of my last post. And we’ve already determined that God hasn’t stopped working on me. Quite the contrary actually – He’s been growing me in ways that make me beyond grateful and that I didn’t see coming.

So are you ready for the answer then? The reason behind the lack of typed verbiage? There are two of them actually and here they are:

1. I didn’t think any of it was good enough to say.

2. I didn’t think I could do justice to what I did want to say.

Can we just take one second to laugh really hard at reason number 1? Seriously, go ahead. I have.

I’ll explain that moment of laughter. If I claim to be a Bible believing, born again Christian (and I do), shouldn’t I be growing in my faith every single day and not taking five month breaks? Yes, I should and yes, I have been. So if, like I’ve said, God has been working in me this whole time, isn’t that part of my testimony or witness or whatever word you want to use? Yes, of course it is. My testimony doesn’t end with salvation. That’s more like the beginning. Finally, if that growth is part of my testimony, how can it possibly not be good enough to say? Am I really criticizing God on how He’s been using me and growing me and telling Him it’s not good enough to post on the internet? Let’s take another laughing break, only this one should be in disbelief and with lots of head shaking.

But that’s what I’ve been thinking. “Wow, I love all this growth and learning new stuff, but I don’t think anyone else would want to read about it. So I’ll just go read some other blog written by some interesting person.” Really? First off, who cares if anyone wants to read it? My popularity (or lack thereof) in this life has absolutely nothing to do with who I am. Nothing. At all. Second, if God loves me as His daughter and is taking the care to grow me in a way that is special to me, He deserves praise and glory for that. Right? I mean really, am I right? Yes! So how dare I think that I don’t have anything good enough to say! If God’s working in me and through me, I should never run out of things to say, regardless of who reads them.

On to reason/excuse number 2.

I didn’t think I could do justice to what I did want to say. So, yes. there were a few things that I thought I’d like to write about and post, but I didn’t think I could say them well enough. I mean, I’m a teenager, still working on my writing, growing my fancy-schmancy vocabulary and learning how to make things interesting and fit together. How could I possibly say what God wants me to say in the way He wants me to say it? It simply can’t be done.

I am really hoping right now that you read that last paragraph in the most sarcastic voice your brain could supply. If you didn’t, please go back and try again. I’ll wait.

Am I ever going to be perfect? Nope. So am I ever going to be able to perfectly show what God’s doing in my life? Nope again. Well, if I can’t do it perfectly, then why bother?

Turns out, I’m supposed to bother because God told me to bother. If I don’t praise the Lord, the stones will. And who wants to lose in praising God to a bunch of rocks? Um, not me.

No, I can’t write everything perfectly, no matter how hard I try. And I probably can’t do it justice. But the point is that I try. I give my absolute best for God and quit acting like I have to be any good by my own strength before He can use me. Guess what. He can use me now. He could use this imperfect post I’m typing viciously away at however He feels like it. And who am I to stop using the words He’s given me because I don’t think they’re good enough? No one, that’s who.

So there you have it. That’s why I haven’t been writing. Because I’m a sinner who doesn’t want to praise God for what He does for me.

Well, that’s going to change. In fact, it already has. Look at this, I’m writing about what God showed me recently right this very second! I love my God and I want other people to love Him too. I want to be used by Him to show other people how great and amazing He is. I’m not going to do it perfectly, but I still want to do it. What could possibly be better than to have a testimony and a witness used by God in someone else’s life? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

So maybe now you could go back to where I said not to insert “excuse” and go ahead and put it in there. Because there is no reason good enough to not give glory to God.

Kira

What has God been doing in your life lately? How have you given Him the glory for it?

Setting the Example in Self-Image

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Countless articles promote the idea that you are beautiful just the way you are. “Be satisfied with the body God gave you.” “Love yourself.” “It’s what’s on the inside that counts.”

There are studies of the psychological benefits of being happy with yourself, statistics about how many people aren’t, and expositions on how to be content. But I believe they all miss a very important point: the effect your self-image has on other people.

A few days ago, my four year old sister was playing in my room and randomly started doing all the stretches and exercises she knew. I smiled at her pushups and the way she flicked her hair out of her face with a serious expression. But my smile disappeared when she told me that she was doing it so that she could have a “little tummy.”

This girl doesn’t have an ounce of fat on her body, but she decided that she needed to exercise so that she could look better. That her tummy wasn’t little enough. What on earth possessed her to think that?

There are, of course, the TV shows, toys, and ads to point to. She was born into a world that teaches her to look a certain way – to get there however she can.

But what about the people around her?

I would like to propose the idea that when you show contempt for your body and appearance, it has a real effect on those around you. How many times has my sister seen me look in the mirror and say it’ll have to do for the day? It’s obviously stuck with her.

The way we look at ourselves says a lot about who we are and other people pick up on that. When a girl that you think is especially pretty complains about the way she looks, your heart falls a bit. If she isn’t good enough, how could you ever be?

1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to “encourage one another and build one another up.” It’s not encouraging to lead someone into discontent with how they look.

I’m especially speaking to those of us with younger siblings. Part of our job is to set the example for them in godliness. They do follow us, whether we realize it or not. They look up to us and want to be like us, and we must turn that to their benefit. It pained me to hear my sister talking about why she wanted to exercise. I don’t want her to think that way about herself. But that way of thinking is a direct reflection of the people she is around, including me.

How do you want your friends, siblings, peers to view themselves? Set an example in that, not in dissatisfaction and unhappiness. Encourage them and build them up by having a healthy view of yourself. They’ll catch on.

Kira

How do you lead people to see themselves in a godly way? What’s the hardest part about it?

When Failure Knocks You Down

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What does the word “failure” mean to you? A big red “F” on a paper. Losing an important game. Letting your friend down. I bet you’ve already failed today. I bet you overslept, or snapped at someone, or didn’t meet a goal.

Maybe you failed to eat that healthy breakfast you had planned or forgot to water the garden before you left. Or maybe it was something bigger, like not getting a job you wanted or having yet another project proposal rejected with a polite “thank you, but no thank you.”

There are as many ways to fail as there are people to fail. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them haunt you for weeks, even years, and some are forgotten in a few moments. Either way, failure is an unpleasant feeling. No one enjoys messing up, whether on a large scale or small. No one wants to be unsuccessful in their goals. It’s no fun, and something we’d all rather be rid of. For good.

But what if we never failed at anything? Where would you be right now if you had got that job or won that race or kept your GPA perfect? How would your life be different? Would you know the same people, live in the same town, enjoy the same things?

Probably not. You wouldn’t even be the same person you are now if not for failure.

Failure forces us to try something else, something new. It’s God’s way of saying, “nope, try again.” And is that really such a bad thing?

Everyone tells you that you learn more from failure than from success and they’re right. Think about it – when you exercise, you do things to muscle failure. Until you can’t do it any more. And then you’re stronger the next time and you can push farther before you fail again. If you didn’t go all the way to muscle failure, you wouldn’t improve as quickly. You’d stay at the same level.

More significantly, without failure, we wouldn’t need Jesus. Let that sink in. If we never messed up, we wouldn’t need a Savior.

When I think about living without Jesus, it makes me sad. He has made my life a thousand and one times better than it was before. But if I had never failed at anything, I wouldn’t need Him to do that. Yet, I still think that life wouldn’t be as good as the one I’ve got now.

Failing doesn’t mean the end of the road. It means pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep walking. Maybe God doesn’t want you to have whatever you were trying to get. Or maybe it means He wants you to try a little harder, or He wants to build up your character some more before you get there.

Let’s stop thinking about failure in a negative way. When we don’t succeed, we’re not put back at square one. No, we’ve gained knowledge and wisdom that helps us try something else. And maybe we’ll fail at that, too, but what will we do? We’ll get up, dust ourselves off, and keep walking.

Kira