Friday, August 11, 2017

Sharp Legs, Big Teeth, and Boo Boos - Oh My!

Happy Friday! :-)

I hope you woke up feeling refreshed and ready to begin your day with the Lord, relying on His strength and grace for every choice you’ll make today, including the choice to begin your day with Him!

When I woke up this morning, I remembered three comments from my students (ages 3-5) from yesterday. Here are their observations of me…

“Mrs. Jacquelyn, you have really big teeth!”

“Mrs. Jacquelyn, your legs are sharp! Ouch! Why are they so sharp?”

“Mrs. Jacquelyn, why do you have boo boos on your face? Is it like freckles? Do they hurt?”

So, not the most flattering of observations, but definitely the most honest! ;-) As a teacher or mother of young children, you have to learn to let these comments roll off of your shoulders. My lovely kiddos don’t have filters yet, and they like to say whatever they observe, whether it’s pointing out my buck teeth (you should have seen me pre-braces! – apparently “small” teeth are better ;-) ), sharp legs (which by the way – that doesn’t mean toned or nice-looking; it meant that I hadn’t shaved in a while…), and my acne (which began when I was 12 and never went away in adulthood like I was promised!). My daughter likes to point out when people are “huge” or when ladies (who aren’t pregnant) have “really big bellies” or when people look old. Of course, she isn’t trying to be offensive, just as my other students aren’t trying to offend me, but these little kiddos don’t understand that what they’re saying could possibly offend other people.

When I woke up this morning and was reminded of these comments, I started thinking about my self-image verses my self-worth – how I view myself verses what my Father thinks of me. Our culture bombards us with sooooooo many characteristics of outward beauty, such as straight teeth, tanned and toned legs, and a clear complexion, that it seems like none of us will “measure up” and my four-year-old darlings will tell you so! You may be unhappy with your weight, your height, or your complexion. You may be ashamed of the size of your nose, your waist, your teeth, or your thighs. You may be embarrassed about a small chest or a large chest. You may want thinner hair or thicker hair or less grays or more eyebrows or thicker lashes or……My friend, the list could continue on and on if we let ourselves go there. But STOP! Please don’t go there again. I absolutely cringe when I read my preteen journals because my body image was down in the dumps BECAUSE I was comparing myself to cultural standards of beauty rather than the Lord’s standard of beauty.

So, this morning, as you wake up and are maybe thinking about how you are disappointed in yourself, whether externally or internally, stop and remember what your Heavenly Father thinks of you! Don’t allow worldly standards dictate how you think you should be. Focus on what God states clearly in His Word:

Psalm 139:13-16
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

Psalm 147:10-11
“He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man. The LORD favors those who fear Him, Those who wait for His lovingkindness.”

1 Peter 3:4
“But let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.”

God loves you! He made you – each intricate part of your body, personality, spiritual gifts, nose size, hips size, teeth size...everything! He loves you so much – so much that He gave His Son so that you might have eternal life. He doesn’t measure beauty like the world does. Rather, He looks at the heart and longs to find people who seek Him with their whole hearts and who fear Him even when no one is watching. "The Lord favors those who fear Him!" It's not about outward appearances! It's about our hearts!!!

(Side Note: Of course, I know we desire to be beautiful and don't want to completely disregard our outward appearance. However, that isn't primary, and the world's standards certainly aren't the standards by which we should abide! As I think about my big teeth or sharp legs, God directs my mind not to be ashamed of my qualities (ok... hairy legs isn't a "quality"; I just despise shaving and have light hair so I can get away with it...from a distance...but my students don't understand personal space yet either, thus they experience my sharp legs!); rather He directs my mind to remember that He values me regardless of how I may not "measure up" to worldly beauty and He reminds me that He has different beauty standards - inward and outward!)

So as you begin your day, be reminded of God’s love for you. Be reminded that He values you even if you don’t feel worthy or beautiful. His opinion is what matters, and He knows that YOU are beautiful, loved, and valued!

-       READ/STUDY: Read Psalm 139. Meditate on how intimately and personally God designed you to be YOU! Look at how closely he knows every thought, every word, every desire, and every hair on your head!
-       EVALUATE: Do you struggle with focusing on outward appearances more than inward beauty? Do you find it hard to focus on being beautiful and holy on the inside when so many things from our culture are telling you that outward beauty is important if you want to be loved and accepted? I know I do, and the only way I can combat the temptation to focus on outward appearances is to focus on the Word, specifically on what God says of me and how He loves and values me. Also, by focusing on how to please Him (cultivating inward beauty and sanctification), the value culture places on how to have the perfect body or perfect complexion kind of fades away. How can Psalm 139 remind you of how much God values you?
-       PRAY: Praise the Lord for creating you in His image. Praise Him for knowing every part of you intimately and loving you, despite the fact that you are a sinner. Ask the Lord to show you your worth, especially of you feel down about how you feel you fall short in light of our culture’s standards of outward beauty. Plead with the Lord to help you value inward beauty far more than outward appearances. Ask the Lord to help you encourage others who may not know or not remember their worth in Christ.

So whether you have big teeth, “sharp” legs, adult acne, or anything else that the world deems as not up to their standards of beauty (according to my four-year-olds), remember who you are in Christ, and remember what God’s Word show us that God values – inward qualities that are of far more worth than clear skin and perfect teeth!

Always, Jacquelyn

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