beauty has been on my heart this past week. i don't know what initially sparked it, but as i started journaling last Sunday, the word beauty just kept coming into the forefront of my mind. i had been realizing more and more the need to tell people that they are beautiful and loved, how we are all desperate to feel valued. i just kept thinking how blessed i am that i have people who show me i'm loved, who encourage me and how that has literally changed my life. at the end of my journal that night, i prayed that God would reveal to me His beauty and love, not just by the world's standards, but "the kind of beauty that makes you glow from within." Boy, did he show me.
after tutoring on Monday, i was talking with the 2 ladies who run the tutoring program at the elementary school. we were discussing how one of the kids had just shut down during tutoring, and one of the ladies brought up what their particular home situation was like. in that moment, i felt so stupid--i had forgotten all too easily the circumstances many of these kids come from, the difficulties they face at home, school, in society. now, as many of you will know, i am a huge fan of discipline. but suddenly i found myself questioning my interactions with the kids. how could i balance love and encouragement, what they so desperately needed, and discipline?
throughout the week, i was on a mission to find Bible verses that would connect all this to beauty. interestingly, a theme quickly began developing. here are some of the verses i wrote down:
"the heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out."
"the tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit."
~Proverbs 18:15, 21
lesson #1: adjust my listening:talking ratio...i think we know which one of those i need to work on. :P
"for everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort" ~1 Corinth. 14:3
"if anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God." ~1 Peter 4:11
lesson #2: WOW. only speak the very words of God. only speak out of His love and grace. how powerful are our words!
God gave me an opportunity to put these lessons into practice that very week. an argument broke out between some of the Abundant Life girls over playing with chalk. when the need arose to discipline, my thoughts jumped to Proverbs--the way to show God's love was first through my ears, not my mouth. as i listened to each of the girls tell me their side of the story, i thought 'this is what God does for me everyday.' think of all the times we come to God with a mouthful--does He ever stop listening? not once. and then how does He respond to us? with love, with encouragement, with grace.
you might be wondering how exactly beauty fits into all this. so i need listen more and speak words of encouragement--awesome. but there is a beauty that needs to be found in the very core of all our relationships as well, and here i must be a lil more transparent.
i have quite a few close guy friends. all throughout college, i was "one of the dudes," and never really thought too much about it. but, i've been realizing over the past year just how much i value that attention, even if i don't always see it as such. basically, relationships can be tricky business, and even though i genuinely love getting to know people, guys included, i don't want to unguard my heart too much. how do i still value the friendship and attention of guys while also being respectful of their hearts' and mine?
Again, God presented himself to me in a way that only He can. friday evening, i was busy being my social butterfly self. my friends, both guys and gals, were being especially complimentary that night it seemed--a few of my guy friends even went so far as to tell me i looked beautiful! it was somewhat odd to me, but of course also very flattering. but the best part, however, was the way i felt every time i was complimented. i just kept thinking, "they think God is beautiful!" for the first time i can remember, i felt this deep beauty in my very core. not gonna lie, it was such a new and bizarre feeling, but so refreshingly wonderful! i wasn't worried about what they might be thinking, or why they were complimenting me, or why i was beautiful that day--they weren't compliments to me, but to my Creator. remember how i prayed that He would reveal to me the kind of beauty that makes you glow from within?
i was floored the rest of the night. in a weird way, it was like i was proud of God, as if i wanted to say to Him, "rock on! you've created so much beauty, even in me! *high five!"
Beauty. the way i listen, the words i say, the encouragement i give, the love i receive. all of this is His beauty in me. when i show someone His love, when i affirm their God-given value and beauty, i'm really thanking God for His creations, for His beauty, for His love. and He's made everything beautiful.