Monday, 7 July 2014

Revelation


I feel the need to preface this little moment of insight with apologetic words; I am quite sure that many people have long understood and accepted this simple yet life-changing idea and have built their life on it. If they were to stumble upon this they might shake their head and wonder why I'm making such a big deal of it. Of course God wants us to trust Him with it all. Of course we are of value; Jesus died for us. 


I'm sorry; I never really got it. Not in the 'changes the way you see everything' sense. Head knowledge, not heart knowledge; there's a world of difference.

I'm not sure I've got it yet, to be honest, but I had a glimpse. Like once before, ( The View Looking Backwards - was that really three years ago?!) I think there's a place in my life where there's a kind of viewing platform. There's a mountain range that I'm climbing, and every time I get to a summit it turns out that there are more mountains and I have to descend and climb another one. 

Somewhere beyond this range there's a final mountain, and at the top there's a place where you can stand and turn round, and see how very far you've come; how many mountains you've climbed. 

What's on the other side, I have no idea, but it's better and more beautiful and easier walking than this. 

So here it is. Be gentle.

I was nine, and in the middle of a game of rounders on the school field when I first compared myself with the other girls in their navy blue PE knickers and realized that I was bigger than most of my classmates. 

The realisation came with a sense of shock; I'd never given much thought to my body; it did what it was supposed to do; I was quite good at sports and had plenty of energy. I looked about at the slender and slim one day with different eyes and realised that there was considerably more of me. 

My head filled with static. I can remember it now.

That day was born an acute sense of self-consciousness and shame. 

I longed to be slim, and for thirty-four years my self-esteem has ebbed and flowed in direct correlation with the numbers on the scales.

And then, the slow revelation.

My longing to be slim is a longing to be approved of by other people, to be thought beautiful by the world’s standards. 

By 'the world' I mean 'other people' as a huge homogenous group. 'Them' as opposed to me. I'm aware that world in its entirety has no interest in the size of my thighs, but whether we like it or not the society we live in dictates what is acceptable in terms of beauty, acceptable behaviour, all the social norms and to reject those dictates is practically impossible because of the pervasive, subliminal, insinuating nature of the brainwashing.

In our culture thin is acceptable, fat is not.

It soon became apparent after that day on the rounders field that the world did not find me beautiful; it was not possible. I didn't look like any of the girls or (as time passed) women I saw all around me. I was the wrong shape. I weighed too much. I remember one science project when we were aged eleven where all the class had to be weighed and measured and I cried the night before and I hung back in the hope that the other kids wouldn't notice the number on the scales. They did. One girl came up and read it off the little dial and announced it loudly to the rest. 

I wanted so badly to fit in. I still do. I still don't like what I see in the mirror even though I know how completely I am loved and accepted by my heavenly Father. 

But I am realising that setting so much store by what Other People Think is a lack of trust in the only One whose opinion matters.  My wanting to be loved by the world is a lack of trust that God will meet all my needs, emotional and otherwise, and so I’ve been looking elsewhere for affirmation and security. I put the opinions of others before God’s.

I realise that to court the friendship of the world is a big mistake. If I ever did manage to gain entry to the gang, she'll turn out to be the worst kind of friend. 

If I get thin enough to meet with her approval, my nose will be too big, or my laugh too loud, my ideas wrong, or my faith unacceptable. I can alter and tinker and edit myself to try to fit in over and over again, but ultimately I'll be rejected because I am just too old to fit her image of perfection. My needy membership request will time out; if indeed it hasn't already. I will never, ever measure up, because the bar will always be raised just out of reach.  

If my daughter at school met a girl who treated her like this, I'd advise her to seek friendship elsewhere. I've said a thousand times, 'A friend should make you feel good about yourself, not bad.' And yet the world made me feel bad for being me, and for decades now I've let her get away with it. She's nothing but a bully.

I feel so sad for those actors and actresses who are defined by their beauty and then feel forced to pursue it relentlessly as it fades; surgery and make up, carrying on a pretence that they still have what was so prized for a fleeting season in their youth. This is not to say that they aren't still breathtakingly beautiful, but the world - she is fickle and demanding. She will always criticise and wrinkle her nose; discard people who no longer fit the mould, even if they were once celebrated and revered. There will always be a new, youthful star with taut skin and pert breasts and full lips, no wrinkles, no stretch marks. 

I never realised that it was a question of trust. I can't trust the world, for she will aways let me down, talk behind my back and find a reason to criticise me.

Well, no more.

God wants me to look only to Him for my value, for only He sees things clearly. Everyone else's opinion is limited and fallible and bound in by what this broken world thinks.

God made me and He doesn’t make mistakes. God is the Good Friend. He is never making impossible demands of me, and when I struggle to meet them, making more. He never asks me to be thin when I'm not, to be young when I'm getting older. God will never make me feel like I'm never picked for the netball team. I am chosen

I am loved beyond what is reasonable, right now, as I am. All of me. I am not too heavy for Him; my heavenly Daddy can lift me onto His shoulders and carry me effortlessly. No matter how much of me there is, the most beautiful part of me is Him. 

I am a daughter of the living God and I make His day. It says so in the Bible. Zephaniah 3:17. This is from the Good News Translation and it's definitely good news. 
The Lord your God is with you;
    his power gives you victory.

The Lord will take delight in you,

    and in his love he will give you new life.
He will sing and be joyful over you...
He is joyful over me. Some translations say He exults over me. He celebrates who I am. He loves me enough to die for me, just as I am. Every wrinkle, every scar, every grey hair, every inch of me.

No wonder God has never granted my prayer to wake up one morning a size ten. If He had done that for me I would still be dependent on the size on the label for my sense of worth. He wants me to trust Him; to trust that I am loved, and to love Him back. 

He wants my heart, and unlike the world, He'll take care of it. 

I trust you, Lord. 



Lord God, take this little glimpse of what might be and turn it into something that I know really down deep in the heart of me. 
Take head knowledge and turn it into heart knowledge. Help me to walk taller because I know that You delight in me.  


I want that to be enough for me. 


That enormous, life changing, gobsmacking revelation to be enough. It amazes me that it isn't; that I still want the people in the swimming pool changing rooms, the mums at the school gates, the people in the clothes shops that only stock clothes in small sizes - those people, whose opinions Do Not Matter - I still want them to approve of me, to accept me. I want to be acceptable. 


And yet, I am acceptable; I am accepted. 


Lord, in that verse from Zephaniah, you said that you'll give me victory. Please give me victory over this. I don't know what life might look like with this victory, but I am longing to find that viewing platform and see both how far I've come, and what the view is over the other side. 


Lord, thank you that you take delight in me, just as I am.

Let that be enough. 


Amen.

8 comments:

  1. Amen, beautiful sister! This is a powerful revelation and so few of us find it. Love this, love you. x

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    1. Thanks Keren. Right back atcha. I'm still trying to get hold of it, to be honest. Getting it from the head to the heart it proving tricky.
      Thanks for being lovely, as usual. x

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  2. No one's going to think you're making a big deal out of this. Once these ideas are inside your head, it's a very big deal indeed and hard to escape. Tell me about it.

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    1. Thanks, Fran. That means a lot, really. When you're stuck for so long it can start to feel as if there's something deeply wrong and that things will never change. I'm still trying to work it out.

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  3. I love this, Helen, and well done. We all have our insecurities. How different we could be if only our hearts knew how loved by God we are, just as we are. Bless you. Philip.

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    1. Yes! I get the feeling that there is so, so much more than I know about. Things would be very different indeed.
      Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. Much appreciated, really.

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  4. Oh, to have His mirror! I think it will blow our minds to recognize fully how we are accepted in the Beloved! It amazes me how I find it easier to believe that Christ would die for me than I do to believe that He cares for me in the here and now. I think it speaks to how abstract even we are believers have made Heaven and Hell, and how we don't really understand what's been done for us. Blessings to you, friend across the sea!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Ginger. You're right - it's so much easier to accept the big things than the little things; what Jesus did on the cross, and yet not that He cares for the day to day stuff. I want ears to hear and eyes to see.
      Thanks for the encouragement. x

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