1 Corinthians 6:19-20
It’s been almost four years. The time has flown by faster than I ever imagined, and sometimes, my journey four years ago, actually feels like a dream. But if I close my eyes and focus really hard, I am back for just an instant. I can actually smell the cabbage cooking over the little stove or our clothes soaking in laundry soap. I can feel little arms wrapping around my legs and sweat dripping down my back. I can hear the sound of their worship and hear the noise of the market. And for one short moment, I am back in a far away land I never dreamed of going to.
I am back in Kenya.
As I prepared for my four month mission trip to Kenya, I spent hours shopping and purchasing everything I would need. Then I spent hours packing and deciding which “necessities” weren’t making the trip. Among them, hairspray, a flat iron, a blow dryer, and all of my make-up and nail polish. For some reason, I believed that I wouldn’t be able to focus on why I was in Kenya if I spent any time on my physical appearance.
(I did pack my tweezers and a teeny tiny mirror, which was such a good idea. I probably would have scared even the most remote villages with my eyebrow. Yes. One eyebrow.)
I was determined to honor God with my body by working hard to serve Him.
I came home a couple of weeks before Christmas, my skin extremely darkened by the hot African sun, my hair sun-bleached blonde and frizzy from the extremely hard water, my toenails unpainted, my body weighing 30 pounds more than it did when I left four months prior, and my heart extremely torn and a little heavy.
I didn’t feel beautiful.
Honestly, I hadn’t felt beautiful for four months.
We sang of God’s beauty almost every night. We admired the Great Rift Valley and the evidence of the Lord’s hand in His creation. I held the tiniest brown babies and whispered into their ears, “You are so beautiful. You are perfectly and wonderfully made.”
We were constantly proclaiming God’s beauty!
But I didn’t feel beautiful.
I have battled a struggle of inward beauty versus outward beauty for a long time, believing that there could only be one or the other.
Then another Jesus-loving Mama told me that her body was bought for a price.
Her body matters to Christ.
“I aim to have a body that is well kept: healthy on the inside, clothing that is functional on the outside so I can do the things with my body to serve the Lord (like chase my kids) and presentable in keeping with current trends, so I can be relatable and approachable to those I meet.”
She went on to tell me that make-up actually draws attention to our countenance, as opposed to our bodies.
My body was bought for a price.
Jesus not only died for our souls, but for our bodies.
And we are called to honor God with these bodies… these tools… that He has given us!
“If I had time, I would go out in the members of this church and ask different ones of you to come up here and testify about what difference God has made in your body. I would ask a man with AIDS, tell us about what it means to glorify God with your body. I would ask a man who just found out he has a serious, life-threatening cancer and say, tell us about what it means to glorify God with your body. I would ask a young woman who has struggled with bulimia and has just turned a significant corner of hope, how do you see God getting glory in your body? And I would ask dozens of women who have lost the little bodies of unborn children, do you believe God can be glorified in those bodies? And I do not doubt that in every case, what you would hear is that God has indeed manifest His glory in ways that many cannot imagine.” John Piper
God is beautiful. His creation is so extravagantly beautiful. The Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Niagara Falls, leaves changing color in the autumn and tulips blooming in the spring declare His beauty. They bring glory to HIM.
His glory is shown in the warm smiles of those African children and the bright eyes of the Kenyan women I hugged. My precious little girls, and my unborn baby still growing inside of me… the Lord’s beauty is shown through them, too.
I’m choosing to allow God to receive glory through my body, but it doesn’t always look the same. Some days giving Him glory looks like messy hair and un-brushed teeth as I sit and sing with my children. Some days His glory will shine through as I put more effort into my appearance to, as my friend reminded, become more relatable and approachable. The truth is that we live in an appearance based world. When I’m taking the time to care about how I look to others, I’m caring about how the gospel is being presented. If I’m engageable and well-presented, I’m offering my best to others on the outside, so they can better glimpse the inside too.
Maybe you’re in the same place I was four years ago.
Maybe you’ve put on a few pounds,
your haircut doesn’t quite suit your face,
or you just don’t feel beautiful.
I want to remind you that you are beautiful, feelings or not.
Rather than letting your feelings overturn truth, let them rise up to match it.
YOU are a declaration of God’s beauty.
YOU are perfectly and wonderfully made.
God created beauty, and He said that it was good.
He created man and woman, in His image, and said that it is very good.
So go forth today, and every day following, knowing that you are beautiful, and knowing that it is God’s plan for us to be beautiful. And allow His beauty to shine through you as you give glory to Him with your body. However that looks, no matter how you feel.
Did you see today’s photo of me in Kenya?
Me, not feeling beautiful?
This picture represents so much of God’s work despite how I felt about myself.
See that woman I’m next to? She was a widow and social outcast because her son was murdered. I was part of the team that brought her family much needed groceries and I cared for wounds on her legs. It was one of the most powerful moments of my trip. God’s beauty was evidenced in me, despite how I struggled with my own perceptions. He brought beauty and glory where I hadn’t seen it!
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