Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Manure on Marble

God made you beautiful.

“But I’m not,” you protest. “My face is not the face of a model. Neither is my body.” Perhaps you don’t have perfect facial features or a large bust or a thin waist. But remember, you’re thinking of a recent American ideal. Leave this country and you’ll find different definitions of physical beauty. For that matter, if you polled American men, not all of them would agree with that “perfect” image.

Why is that standard in your head? Because someone who is selling something put it there.

“Small-breasted? Buy this push-up bra! Not thin? Try this brand of underwear! New wrinkles popping out? Our facial cream works wonders!”

Don’t let someone trying to make a buck tell you what beautiful is.

More importantly, don’t be content to scratch the surface of beauty. Look deeper. Your soul is a work of art. Think of your closest friend. What do you like about her? Her sense of humor? Listening skills? Those are her inner beauty marks. You have your own as well. Ask your friends what they are.

Even the most conniving, sour, selfish woman has inner beauty, because at its core, her soul is like pristine marble. But it’s covered in sin – like a statue caked with manure.

If we’re honest, that’s the state of all our souls. We’re made in God’s beautiful image but fouled by sin. We look to Jesus, the Living Water, to wash our statues clean.

Let God turn the hose on.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tangled in a Tape Measure

A tape measure would solve this.

When a man shops for clothes, he knows his measure-ments. He looks at the rack and finds the number. Simple.

For women it's more complicated. Our clothes are not sized in inches. And a size 10 dress is larger than it used to be. With bras, it's reversed.

I am small busted. You know those calculations for finding your bra size? (Gentlemen, listen and learn.) "First, measure under your breasts, and then add five inches. This is your band size. Next measure the fullest part of your bust. Subtract the first number from the second. If the result is four, you are a D-cup (the largest one). If the answer is three, you are a C-cup," and so on.  When I do the math, I get a negative number.

There is no way I am anything but an A cup, but the lingerie department wants me to flatter me. So they've made B cup bras smaller. Sneaky.

We want the grade inflation so we can live the fantasy of being a nicer size. Otherwise we'll have to face the truth of the tape measure.

Are you tangled up in the lies the culture tells us about our beauty and value? Convinced that you'll never measure up?  Good news. Your value does not lie in meeting the culture's standard. You are a woman of eternal value because you are made in the image of God. Period. Use that truth to cut through the lies.

Snip, snip.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Power Stretch

I pull the clothing catalog out of the mailbox and glance at it.
Some decisions are easy.   I toss the
magazine into the recycling bin. From front cover to back, this company preaches that it's okay to wear tight-fitting dresses with plunging necklines.  And that busty plus thin equals beautiful. Not a message my daughter and I need to hear.

But there's a catalog that always makes it into the house. It's from Athleta, a company that sells women's athletic clothing. Their motto is, "Power to the She." I make a point of sitting on the sofa with my eight-year-old daughter to flip through the pages. The models are athletes in real life, and they are pictured riding surf boards or running or in stretch positions. We try to duplicate the poses.

"Can you do that one?" I ask my daughter as I point to a model who has her foot behind her ear. My flexible little girl is much better than I at holding the pose. I blame my sciatica.

This is what I want my daughter to see -- real, healthy women taking on physical challenges. Granted, the models are slender, and that may be annoying to healthy women who are not as small. And I know the marketing people at Athleta make sure the sports bras and yoga pants look good on these women. They probably digitally enhance the photos just as much as the next company. But at least Athleta focuses on strength and confidence. Their message: what a woman can do is at least as important as how she looks.

I'll take it. Any catalog that promotes a woman's strength and accomplishment is welcome in my house.

Power to the She.

Yes, indeed.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Another Pretty Face

I hate her. Granted, we haven't even been introduced. But she is beautiful, and I hate her for it.

We're at a business conference together. Her face is perfect. Large eyes, small nose, high cheek bones. I stare at her. What is it about beautiful people that makes us stare, even if we despise them?

Does she get this all the time? Who stares at her more? Men, with admiration and desire? Or women, with envy?

What's it like from her perspective? She walks in a room, and half the women (the insecure ones, like me) hate her before they even know her name.

How unfair.

It could be something biological. Humans are not merely animals, but sometimes our behavior is similar to the beasts'. Does some part of me, buried deep in my brain, see her as a competitor for a mate? Or, if I'm not quite that savage, as a competitor for the love of a man?

Is it simply that our culture tells me she is more valuable than I am?

Whatever it is, I must fight it. Because she's more than just a pretty face. She's a human being whom God calls me to love. Perhaps if I can see beyond her exterior and get to know her, God will help me love her. If she becomes a person in my mind and not merely a body, I can slay the envious beast that lives in me. The root of the problem is that I don't believe that I am enough. I believe the culture's lie instead of God's truth. God says both she and I have eternal value.

O Lord, help me stop hating her. Instead, help me to hate the lie. And love the truth.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Girly Warriors

A friend of mine was shopping for a gift for my daughter's birthday.
"She's so active," the friend remarked."Should I look for some kind of sports equipment? She's not into dolls or dress-up, is she?"

"Oh, she's active," I replied, "but she would like the dress-up things. She's a girly girl."

Dear Reader: if you ever hear me say that again, please give me the following lecture.

"Wendy. She's a girly girl? Meaning what? That it's more girlish to 'dress up' in ribbons and bows than to 'dress out' in athletic gear and kick a ball around? Do you mean a real girl plays with dolls and tutus, but a girl who prefers to do archery or build something is less than a girl? Why do you equate femininity with frills and not with field hockey? Whatever a girl likes to do is 'girly.'"

Guilty as charged.  Why do I have such a narrow view of femininity? By definition, whatever a girl's inclination, THAT is feminine.

Beauty can be frilly. But beauty is also competitive and strong. If you're a follower of Christ, you live on a battlefield, and you're a soldier. If you're like me, you need some practice associating femininity with the sword of the Word and the helmet of salvation, to borrow Paul's words from Ephesians.

When we fight for God's cause, we're not women acting like men. We're women acting like women. And we need every soldier in the fight.