I’m expecting every woman who sees this title to click on this post-ha! Is it that this question represents the zeitgeist of our current culture? Does it have to do with our insatiable curiosity about what others deem as acceptable, or even required, to stay relevant? Or is it our way of verifying that she is cheating at this game of not looking her age?
Hmmm... I don’t know, but what I do know is it is a slippery slope to go down the road of judging others’ choices as it applies to cosmetic changes. Let’s take a step in this direction to see how quickly it becomes quicksand…Have you ever colored your hair? Do you wear make-up? How about wearing nail polish, shaping foundationwear, getting unsightly veins or spots removed? Do you see what I mean about slipping down this slope into quicksand?
How grateful I am that God does not focus on the outward appearance – altered or unaltered. He looks at the heart.
For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. 1Samuel 16:7
And how relieved I am that my God knows my frame is but dust – that even though I have decades of experiencing His acceptance of me as I am, I can still struggle with my outward appearance – not only what I see in the mirror, but how others see me. (Welcome to a core issue for Enneagram Type Three’s: image.) And yet at the same time, I believe my heart is sincere in following, worshipping, and trusting my Creator, Abba Father.
Just as a father loves his children, so the Lord loves those who fear and worship Him [with awe-filled respect and deepest reverence]. For He knows our [mortal] frame; He remembers that we are [merely] dust. Psalm 103:13-14
So, let’s look at my title in a different light – the radiance that is visible when someone has had work done by His Spirit. Have you experienced that kind of change- the outward sign of an inward transformation? Others will notice. Maybe it’s literally the look on your face or the way you talk- or not talk. Maybe it’s a change in your perspective, or the pace in which you do life. If you have experienced God’s molding process, you know the cost of such non-cosmetic surgery.
Many Christ-followers, over the centuries, have written about the sacred place of total surrender, the stripping off of facades, coming to ‘the wall’ in their faith journey. This place has also been called the dark night of the soul. Don’t those descriptions make you want to run to such a place?! Not me!
Well, several years ago, I hit my (spiritual) wall. My heart was shredded – not by someone else per se – but by having the blinders come off and seeing my own brokenness. What seemed like suddenly, my reflection in a mirror showed me a warped image like that of the cubist female portrayal above.
It felt like my dark night would never turn into morning. I could not be consoled. I could not make sense of what was going on – even what was reality versus the stories in my head. I could not find my God. I was as lost as I’d ever been.
Where was my loving Father? How could He let me suffer like this? Where is the way out of this deep dark tunnel? Only the Psalmists understood my despair.
I need to add to this picture: the physical condition facilitating this nightmare I was in caused pain so severe and relentless that at its worst, I did not want to go on living. Even getting a diagnosis took over a decade. Meanwhile, I had to find a way to survive it, and to salvage my faith.
I had read somewhere that pain is (can be) the invitation in. So I decided to follow it inward...but not alone. I had His indwelling Spirit as my companion. It was there I was confronted with my cubist image. I would reexperience so many moments, relationships, situations without any filter coming in from my false self – the ‘expected persona’ I had developed so long ago, that I (thought I) needed to be in order to be loved and accepted. I could see – for the first time – how others experienced me. Wow…can someone hand me those blinders back?!
I became really comfortable with being uncomfortable during this excruciating excursion that lasted longer than four thick journals’ full. I also became really comfortable with repentance. In fact, it might sound weird, but I got to looking forward to this posture. I guess because for those brief moments between confessing and committing to turning away from my sins, and falling back into my human frailty, I feel the full freedom of being unencumbered in my worship and communion with my God.
There is so much more to this story of my dark night... Sigh…but, suffice it to say, if today I more closely resemble the person God created me to be, this downward, inward fall I describe here played a significant role in the façade stripping that had to happen to get to my true self – the one God created me to be, for His glory and my fullness of joy.
When light finally broke through the darkness, needless to say, I was not the same person. I needed a new name: ENG- Emerging New Geri. And so began my ENG journey…
In a future post, I will share how ‘my self-portrait’ changed from this cubist rendition to a image more closely resembling how He sees me. He calls me His BWP…
One of the many positive outcomes of my dismantling (as I have lovingly referred to my dark time), is a closer relationship with empathy and compassion. Specifically, I desire to apply my increased softness to my passion for supporting and encouraging women.
How can I encourage you? How can I reinforce His messages of love and delight over you? How can I reflect back to you the part of His character I see in you?
It’s there, I know, because He created each of us in His image. And He is fully committed to the (lifelong) work of helping us get underneath our false selves to uncover the radiance of who He created us to be. What’s your new name: New Emerging ____?
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Blessed to play a part ~