Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
Sun gently pours soft-orange through my closed eyes as I rest in the unusual warmth of this Spring-like January day. The faint sounds of dogs barking and cheery, chirping birds fill the afternoon’s outdoor quiet. Broken, brown leaves, camouflaged in the weathered grass, crinkle under my steps as I make my way to the outdoor stone fire pit.
I take a deep breath in and out as I sit with yellow legal pad and pencil in hand, distracted by the beauty of the wispy, white clouds against a vast blue, Texas sky. Shuffling sounds remind me that squirrels are industriously digging for their carefully hidden acorns, stored away. Only the narrowing evergreen trees have kept their green through the winter. Looking across the land, I see my surroundings differently. When my familiar landscapes shed their leaves, everything feels new.
Bare branches reveal a tucked away, child-filled, preschool window in my church’s nursery that is otherwise hidden by Spring blooms. I can see my neighbor’s rusting iron gate post on our afternoon walks that I otherwise miss when filled-in hedges insulate the edges of their driveway. The aging green of our neighborhood’s city tennis court is suddenly visible from our park’s playground, where we burn energy year round.
As I see beauty unfolding, I indulge in the gift that is being in this moment, right now. Nowhere else. Present in His presence feels like relief.Relief for a few moments from toil, relief from worry, relief from exhaustion, relief from heartbreak.
Beauty does that. It has the power to ease our burdens, release our expectations, provide rest, and heal our suffering, if even for only a little while. D.H. Lawrence resonates with me, asserting, “The human soul needs actual beauty more than bread.”
But how do we enjoy this always revealing, present beauty if we spend most of our time specking out and controlling our future? We spend much time controlling:
for future gain,
to avoid future loss,
to move closer to future success,
to run from future failure.
We spend our beautiful now navigating a future that we rarely choose to live in because, really, the planning overhauls the actual living, ALL THE TIME.
We are women raising the next generation, and we pray our children will be image bearers of Christ. Therefore, it is fair and necessary that we evaluate what we believe and celebrate as beautiful.
Media will tell us rail thin bodies, needle-plumped faces, dyed sumptuous black hair is the beautiful ideal.
Magazines we glance by in grocery store checkout lanes show us that air brushed, hair-blown, crouched over, bosom filled loveliness is the standard for measuring beauty.
Schools will inadvertently teach our daughters that busy bodied classmates, gossiping about girls who are “boss” among their peers, are the only ones capable of carrying the label, beautiful.
But beautiful is so much more. As mommas and sisters and friends and mentors, we bear this great responsibility to share the truth about what is beautiful with the women and adolescent girls God places in our circles. So, in order to define beautiful, we establish what beauty is not.
Beauty is not a size. It is not a hovering scale number, deciding after five seconds what your weight calculates with your shoes off. It in not a part of a mathematical equation that allows you to eat cake if you ran two miles in the morning. It is not looking like the actress in our favorite movie. It is not constantly trying to change who you are.
Beauty is melted chocolate smeared in my child’s mouth corners, grinning ear to ear. Beauty is the finger-smear of paint my toddler left behind on the bench seat after helping mommy stain it the wrong shade of gray. Beauty is my husband giving me a quick sloppy, kiss before he leaves for the front door on a hurried Monday morning, because his kiss is my kiss and nobody else’s.
As we contemplate how to walk our friends and sisters and daughters through an understanding of healthy body image and away from eating disorders and other unhealthy addictions that claim and FAIL to gain control over our uncontrollable lives, we have to first look at what we believe. What do I believe is beautiful? Am I willing to slow down and taste and see what the Lord has made and let it be good enough?
Am I willing to fight against and claw my way through every lie that Satan wants me to believe so that I can believe that I am beautiful, just as He made me?