This isn’t so much about looks as this is about perception and the lies that swim around in our heads.
I never liked the way my legs look. Ever since I became aware of my looks at the late-blooming stage of high school. I hated my legs. They’re too big. Too much fat or too much muscle. Why couldn’t I have “chicken legs” like most of the other girls?
Funny enough, of all my (take this sarcastically, ladies and gents) “marketable body parts,” my legs have gotten the most attention (whether genuine or crude), so where’s the disconnect between what I believe and what the truth is?
How did I decide that my legs were “too _____” or “not ______ enough”? If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past century, you know the answer is media and culture. I know these messages are lies because if I were a model, I would be just as insecure (or even moreso) about my body.
The point, I think, is not about whether or not my husband or even some creeper likes the way my legs are built. I don’t even have to love my legs. I think the take home is knowing that I am enough, big legs or small legs. Long or short. I’m not defined by my legs at all, in fact. I think it’s a daily choice to fight to be comfortable with yourself because most of the world is trying to convince you otherwise, not because they hate your lack of thigh-gap (stupidest “fad” in the world), but because it’s a good way to get your money. Nothing that they use to convince you (the messages behind ads, music, marketing, art, copy, etc…) is real though. But your legs are. Your heart is. Your mind is. I’d rather love what’s real than buy into a contrived message. Wouldn’t you?
Sounds pretty… tyrannical? Manipulative? Controlling? Well, Jesus said it. So… maybe it’s not! I’m not gonna lie, I was puzzled by this verse, but then I started getting to know Jesus as a person.*
What I find in this verse (John 15:14) is that it makes sense in relationship. I have friends that I absolutely adore, and I’m sure most of you do. I love some of them so much that if they asked me for a favor, it’d be a no-brainer. I would set aside the things on my to-do list, give them my 10-minute break at work, etc… for them. In a blink. For my even closer friends, I’d anticipate what they needed/wanted before they even asked! How crazy is that? Sometimes my friends don’t even have to ask me if I would like to receive something on Valentine’s Day. They just mail away!
It’s the same with God. In asking tons of questions, sharing my deepest secrets, and answering some of his questions, I’ve built a relationship with him and I decided I really like God. Even though, he’s puzzling at times or answers my questions in ways I don’t expect, I enjoy his mystery… it’s not uncommunicative mystery either. It’s more like an alluring surprise (I won’t lie and say I’m always keen on these unknowns all the time!).
Can I be frank with you? I wanted to rip someone a new one today. This person hurt me. A lot. Not just once either. They could use a good telling off. And the worst part is, I don’t even know if they know what they did! “They deserve to be enlightened…” I say, “with my fist!” God, being God, listens patiently and tells me to put the pitchfork and soapbox down… and let him deal with it. All of it.
That’s awfully scary to hear when I’ve gotten so used to sticking up for myself in this big, intimidating world. But I decided today that I would listen to God because in our friendship, I found things work out really well when I take his advice. A lot of times it sounds like, “Don’t worry, I got this.” It’s that still, small voice amidst the chaotic panic or my active, creative, and beautifully messy thought-space.
In relationship, this “obedience” is more like taking advice from a dear, trusted friend. A friend close enough to be honest with you. It helps that this friend can see into the future too. At times it can feel like a grind, but that only happens when I’m not thinking in terms of our relationship. So I have to go back and remember that Jesus is for me. He knows what I want before I do. And that’s a friend that can be trusted.
*People I talk to get confused and even frustrated with the notion that one can get to know a “spiritual being” that isn’t physically present. I see it as having a great wifi connection to God. We’re on Skype 24/7, except I don’t need a computer or a smart phone. It’s even more direct because the wifi connects my heart with his. Who needs screens?
1 John 4:10 (KJV)
This verse shows me that relationship is the most important part of the Christian walk. I read it as us needing to know we’re loved by Jesus (vs. earning his love), and then overflowing with that love onto others. It’s not always easy to do, but I can assure you, it’s much easier to take someone to coffee, buy your stepmom some flowers, apologize to that grumpy coworker, etc… on a full love tank.
Over a year ago I wrote a post about giving away my blessings to make room for God to pour out more… I remembered that I promised to share the results of my little “experiment.” Here it is:
There’s a lot of chatter in the circles I run in about “obese Christians,” and I don’t mean people that are physically overweight that profess to be Christians. I’m talking about people that are over-saturated with receiving wisdom, kindness, ministry, etc… and are not giving it away. Some of us are over-eating at the banquet table of the Lord, but we’re not working it off by walking it out.
I made the move from my university city back to my hometown. The transition was hard and I knew that it takes time to build relationships and get integrated into spiritual family (those things take a lot of time and intentionality!) so I started feeding myself spiritually by waiting on the Lord, reading books, listening to teachings and I started getting spiritually chubby. I was benefitting from all the gains and getting wiser, but my outer circumstances weren’t changing much and the fruit left much to be desired so I decided to employ a kingdom principle that I’d learned: Give away what you’ve got to make room for God’s blessings (Proverbs 11:24).
I started serving at my old church and at a new church, investing into both, not expecting anything back (note: one is able to do this for a sustained time only when it is done out of strength from the Lord—a good example is Heidi Baker who has not burned out in all her years of living and doing ministry). There were a few other investments that I made financially and in intentionally spending time with family and new friends (this isn’t a post about my doings, so just imagine the rest!) and I can pleasantly say that God has been faithful in getting me to feel un-stuck! God hasn’t thrown a bunch of distractions at me to fill up my planner, but he’s blessed me with purpose, with his manifestations—big and small—and with friends that I will happily call spiritual family! Isn’t he great?
He’s been showing me that the fruit he’s producing in my life is good; the work I’ve been creating is fulfilling and a pleasant aroma to him. I believe he is still doing things to set us all up for our destinies, so why not have some mini-games/adventures on the side? All I had to do was trust that He’s better than I think He is, figure out a few places to express love and serve, and then let it rip! If you’re doing the same, I’d love to hear about it!
This year I spent NYE with a shipload of sailors… real sailors. Shanties and all. I will never forget that
Apart from that, one of my favourite parts of the New Year is my new year letter to myself from the year before…
Let me explain…
Every year I write a letter to myself to read in exactly 1 year. January 1st is a convenient time to write this letter since everyone else is so motivated about starting new things or self-improvement. (I’ve kept this resolution for at least 5 years!!) It’s not that I don’t have friends that I write to myself (I promise, I do! There’s a reason I’m not reblogging everything!). This letter from the past is a great reminder that I’m not the same person after 1 year. We grow, make mistakes, learn, love, get our hearts broken, achieve, fail, and get back up. The process is beautiful.
What do I write to myself? I ask myself questions… years ago I remember reading a previous letter asking whether or not I was married… that’s hilarious. Anyways, I write about my job(s) or lack thereof, the hobbies I entertain myself with, and even predictions I have for myself in the next year. In 2013 I predicted that the current job I have now would be a character-defining factor in my life, and BOY, that’s the most accurate guess ever! It’s my first full-time job, and getting a wacky creative to tie herself down to a desk for 8 hours a day is like pulling teeth from a rabid badger.
This past year I road-tripped across the U.S. with my best friend, lost my dog, Sammy, got my first promotion, painted on stage/in public for the first time, watched my brothers graduate from college and high school, and made two new best friends. A lot happens in a year and it’s too easy to forget unless we reflect…
I highly recommend doing this since it provides a sense of perspective. It shows you how much you can grow in a year, and even how you learn best. It teaches you that it’s ok to take risks once in a while. Writing these reflective letters can inspire you to live more whimsically or to invest more time in relationships rather than work.
Here are some topics to write on if you’d like to give this a try, but don’t know where to start:
- Your highlights of the year
- Big achievements (graduation, career, new car, etc…) and failures
- Travel, adventures
- Friends, family and relationships
- What you hope for in the new year
- Questions you’d like to ask your future self
- Personal growth, worldview?
- Top 3 life lessons you learned
Some handy tips: I use Google Drive to store my letters in one doc so I can go back and read letters from years before if I desire. Plus, I won’t lose it and I can access it from anywhere with internet. To look back at events and choose my highlights or memorable moments, I go through pictures and even Facebook posts. This is incredibly helpful as you’ll constantly be surprised how much you achieve in a year!
Do you write New Years letters? How has that been going for you?