Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Day 236 - pretty

I hung out with a friend today and we painted our nails. After I went home, I was looking at my nails and having them painted a shimmery raspberry color made me feel pretty. So I told her. And she said "you are!"

I sometimes have "moments". Moments where when something happens and it just hits me... all of life just stops for a second... and it makes me think.

I'm pretty?

I went to the bathroom and sat down and continued thinking about it. I realized how much I struggle with not feeling pretty or pretty enough. It sounds like a silly thing to struggle with. I hear stuff about inner beauty and I do wholeheartedly agree that inner beauty is most important... but why do I still want to be outwardly beautiful?

And... funny thing is... it doesn't count when my dad tells me I'm beautiful. It doesn't count when my aunts do either. And it doesn't even count when people say I'm beautiful in my wedding pictures... cuz I don't look like that everyday. So when does it count? From whom does it count? And why?

As I was sitting in the bathroom, I thought about how Anderson would sometimes text me "you look so pretty today" and it would make me smile. He hadn't even seen me and he'd text me... because he knew I liked hearing it and he probably knew that I needed to hear it... a lot. He'd call me his beauTIFFul. And I've said it before... that every time he did that, I'd tell him he was a liar. And every time I called him a liar, he'd turn around and tell me that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and in his eyes, I was the most beautiful woman in the whole world. I don't know how many times he said it or how many times I called him a liar. He was prepared to remind me every single time. I don't even know how he could keep saying it without getting frustrated. He was just that amazing to me.

What I look like on the outside... doesn't matter as much as who I am, what I do... or Who I love. Have I mentioned before about hot personalities? There are some people I've read about who have gosh darn, jaw-dropping, HOT personalities and I've never seen what they look like. And I'm not talking about some make-believe vampire... about real people who lived, breathed, and walked this earth... maybe not at the same time as us right now, but they existed. Can't wait to meet them in heaven. And I realized that all the hotness... wasn't because of them... it was because of who they were like... and they lived out their lives in the likeness of Christ.

I wanna be that kind of beautiful. Not just pretty with pink nail polish... but that kind of beautiful that doesn't need any outward convincing... but by just describing what I do, how I react... what I care about... that's the kind of beauty I want. I wanna live up to that kind of beauty that gets texts messages from miles away... cuz he can see that I'm beautiful all the way from... where ever. And Anderson still doesn't cease to teach me valuable lessons... even from my memory.

There is one other person in my life who I remember stopped me in my tracks by telling me that I was beautiful. I remember writing about it in college. It was that impactful to me. I really wanted my small group to know in their heart of hearts that they are beautiful. I dug through my old emails and found a set of small group lessons that I'd put together back in 2002/2003. Here's some of what I collected back then from the lesson entitled "you are beautiful".

She was still and created stillness. She is beautiful to feel near. I love the quiet of her. – An African’s description of Lilias Trotter

…it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. 1 Peter 3:4.

The proper understanding of everything in life begins with God. No one will ever understand the necessity of conversion who does not know why God created us. He created us “in His image” so that we would image forth His glory in the world. We were made to be prisms refracting the light of God’s glory into all of life. Why God should want to give us a share in shining with His glory is a great mystery. Call it grace or mercy or love-it is an unspeakable wonder. Once we were not. Then we existed for the glory of God! John Piper, Desiring God.

In quietness and confidence shall be your strength. Isaiah 30:15b.
(I think I used bits and pieces that someone else wrote and I added in my own comments. I didn't cite which comments were mine and which weren't but I can pretty much figure out what I inserted by my diction.)

My journey is toward His heart, not toward acceptance from others. I live, I dress, I speak, I act, I walk for Him. The old self is always ready to rear its ugly head and tell me I need to be perfect. Media constantly bombards us with ideals of beauty and products we “need” to make us beautiful. We let fashion, style, or even other people tell us how we need to be or what we need to look like. What is the truth? I will never be perfect while I’m on my journey. I love Peter for following Jesus through his own failures, and I love Paul for confessing that he was the chief of all sinners. God knows that we are always in process.

Experiences have helped me realize that what is important to God is the way I respond when I am confronted with my inadequacies. Do I condemn myself? Do I blame others? Do I get mad at God for creating me this way? Is my significance bound up in being perfect for everyone? When thoughts like these assail me, I go to the One who knows and accepts me just as I am. I ask for His truth to speak to my heart. He comforts me with the assurance that He has no expectations of flawlessness from me. And He helps me discern how to respond appropriately, in attitude or action, in front of those who witness my shortcomings.

We are continually being transformed and moving toward conformity to Christ. Now that I am in Christ, I can “lay aside” the self that demands perfection. In Christ we are new creations…the old has passed away and the new has come. So here’s the thing: all I need to be is God’s child. All the good in me is from God… all the bad in me shows me how much more work must be done. As long as we keep on striving to be better children of God, He’ll continue to bless us…all it takes is time.

...our treatment of the work of God, our forebearance and humility and meekness and perseverance under and in the face of difficulties will be everything. - William Booth

Tiff’s thoughts: This one time I was feeling really depressed and used (post-breakup syndrome) and then I ran into Linda. Among other things, Linda prayed with me and told me that I was beautiful. I was crying my eyes out and going through a REALLY agonizing day; to hear her say that I was beautiful stopped me in my tracks. Going through everyday life, we tend to get discouraged and downtrodden, especially towards midterm time or when going through relationship troubles. Hearing someone say “you’re beautiful” also doesn’t happen everyday. When I stopped to think about it, I realized that it was something that was true and it was something I had forgotten in the midst of my own misery. I’m beautiful not because of how I look, what I wear, or who tells me I am… I’m beautiful because God made me that way: and that should be enough. My worth should be in Christ and no one else. Easier said than done. Where’s your worth? Where’s your joy and happiness? Is it in God or is it in grades, or friends, or a boyfriend? Those things don’t last and WILL eventually let you down. Why not put your worth in Someone who will always be there for you and never let you down? Someone who loved you enough to die for you? Well, as an encouragement…you’re BEAUTIFUL! Don’t ever forget it!

Man. I can tell how young I was when I wrote this. My biggest problems were midterms, grades, friends, breakups and boys. I guess some things change but some things have remained the same. I think it's so fitting that my friend, Linda (whose name means "beautiful") taught me so much about being beautiful. Mm... I guess that's it for this post. No huge realizations... just a random collection of thoughts from now and then. 28-year-old me is encouraged by 20-year-old me. I wonder if I would have liked myself if I met the 20-year-old me right now. Probably not. I probably would have thought she was so snotty and full of herself. 20-year-old me might think the same about 28-year-old me. I think I'd clash with myself. K. It's late. Night!

[1] Lilias Trotter was an artist, proclaimed by art critic John Ruskin to be potentially one of the best artists of the nineteenth century. But Trotter left the art world behind to pioneer a mission work in Muslim North Africa. She moved to another country, into circumstances that seemed unbearably hard. She worked as a missionary to a nation of people whose religion was so intolerant that they diligently tried to destroy all that she hoped to accomplish.


  1. <3 you ARE beautiful inside and out. so much, i think you glow.
    such inspirational posts the last few weeks...
    love you!

  2. you're beautiful!

    always so encouraging. I think that's why I read your blog. thanks for the encouragement! haha.

    i was thinking that, i find Christ beautiful and from accounts (I'm not entirely sure if they're accurate), Christ wasn't very good looking. He was just ordinary, but what he did was just so beautiful and I think that's the kind of beauty I want to see in myself and others :D

    I think that in the church we should encourage each other more on the inside, the stuff that matters. A lot of times I hear people say I love that dress you're wearing! etc...but I think the church needs more encouragements like..your humility encourages me! and you're beautiful!

    (I think studying for finals is making me delirious..and the heat)