You are Beautiful

beach

I think I have a pretty good body image.

I am happy with who I am.

I wear what I want, I eat what I like and I made peace with my curly hair years ago.

I have no time for uncomfortable shoes, contacts that make my eyeballs itch or cosmetics that cover up my real, actual face.

Since becoming mom to a beautiful, strong little girl, I have been purposeful about speaking positively about my body.

And hers.  And yours.

Apparently salt water is my kryptonite.

You see, I am white.

Like SPF 70 and a t-shirt to avoid sunburn white.

And yet I find myself at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean with this beautiful, strong girl (not so little anymore).  And I am thinking of you.

You know who you are—friends posting beach pictures with perfectly tanned bodies, perfectly coiffed hair, perfectly relaxed smiles.

I feel a mess.  I am covered in sunscreen, sweat and sand.

I am exhausted from chasing a toddler over uneven terrain while keeping one eye on a child who is overly confident in unpredictable water.

The beach is not my happy place.

In this moment, I speak of you, Facebook-perfect friends.

Immediately, my daughter calls me on it.

You are beautiful, mom.

Stop comparing yourself to them.

Just stop.

She is right.

So I smile for a picture,

A real, actual, happy smile.

Because even though the beach is not my happy place.

In this moment,

Being her mom is.

Friend, if you feel a mess today.

Covered in sand or regret, worried about measuring up.

Her words are for you too.

You are beautiful.

Stop comparing yourself to them.

Just stop.

You are beautiful.

Advertisements

Sharing Space

We tell our kids that it’s ok to feel however they feel.

That sad and angry are ok.

That it’s only our actions that get us in trouble, not our feelings.

But do we believe it?

Or do we try to rush ourselves—and each other—through the hard feelings?

Do we offer a platitude and avert our gaze?

This is one of the reasons that I love Nehemiah.

You guys, he keeps it real.

He doesn’t deny the gravity of the situation.

His brothers and sisters are in danger.  Vulnerable to attack.

The whole situation is a mess.

So what does Nehemiah do?

He sits down.

Not in resignation, but in expectation.

He weeps and mourns.

For days.  Maybe months.

This was not a quick cry.

He owned the sadness.  The sorrow.  The anger.

He fasts and prays.

Friends, God and sadness are not incompatible.

God and anger are not incompatible.

Nehemiah got this.

He let his feelings and his God share space.

This was our sermon last week.

But it’s a word that I desperately need to hear today.

As I look around at the broken walls in my life,

The gravity of the situation threatens to overwhelm.

The feelings are strong.  And not happy.

And here, too, God is God.

Unafraid of the mess.

Unthreatened by the feelings.

In no particular rush to snatch me up and over to the happy ending.

And so I will let him share space with all of it.

Today.

Just about every single day

I don’t know why it persists.

I guess it makes a good meme.  Or inspirational poster.  Or whatever.

But it’s just not true.

Over and over again, I hear people say, “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.”

I don’t know about you, but God gives me more than I can handle just about every single day.

The challenges of parenting a beautiful child who lived too much before she called me mom.

The twists and turns of foster care that yank at my heart, test my patience and make it impossible to plan for the future.

And a toddler.

And that’s before I step out the door of my own home.

Do you want to know a secret?

I think this is the way it’s supposed to be.

I absolutely think God gives us more than we can handle.

Why?

Because… Jesus.

I love to handle things.

To organize them, manage them, control them.

Having more than I can handle makes me feel small.

Not in a “no one sees me, I’m insignificant” way,

But in a “oh, wait a second, maybe I don’t got this and I better take a step back and plead for mercy from the One who does” way.

Having more than I can handle reminds me that though I am called to the ministry of reconciliation, I am not the Reconciler.  I am not the Redeemer.

Do you want to know another secret?

For a controller like me, this is a relief.

I can exhale, can breathe even when it feels like everything is going off the rails.

So, if you feel like God has given you more than you can handle today,

It’s not because you’re not trying hard enough.

It’s not because you don’t have enough faith.

It’s probably because he has.