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A Different Kind Of Beauty

This past weekend while my younger children were napping, I sensed God encouraging me to just sit and read. Reading is something I love but don’t get to do very often. I picked up a book that I haven’t picked up in years; “Captivating,” by John and Stasi Eldredge. I started reading where I had left my bookmark. I don’t normally share so much from one book, but it was so obviously God talking to me and instructing me, and I felt Him prompting me to share with you. I believe so many of us struggle in this area…

I cried as I read and let God’s love and gentle instruction pour over me.

“Beauty flows from a heart at rest.” – Stasi Eldredge (1)

Every time I read the phrase “a heart at rest” I connect with it because it’s what I long for. I believe God is slowly showing me how, but it has been a long, sometimes very painful, process.

Does your heart long for rest?

Did you know that as you learn to rest, and let your heart be at rest, you become more beautiful to those around you?

Stasi describes two women in her book. The first is young, busy, thin, productive. She runs five to ten miles a day. She is striving. She is motivated by perfectionism. Her beauty “does not flow from her heart.” It is forced, driven by discipline and fear.

The second woman is described as one of the most beautiful woman Stasi had ever met. This woman’s eyes sparkled, her laugh was contagious, she lit up the room. “Her spacious, beautiful soul invited others to come, to be, to taste and see that the Lord is good, whatever was happening in your life. She was gloriously alive and in love, both with her husband and with the God of the Universe.”(2)

The first woman described was twenty-one. The second woman was seventy-five. This speaks to my heart. I long to live like the second woman described. But I don’t want to wait until I’m seventy-five to do so. I want to live that way now.

What about you? What makes you strive? What makes you unable to rest?

I strive to be a good mom. I strive to be a wonderful wife (with a body my husband will love). I strive out of guilt. I strive out of some notion of efficiency and productivity that I have. I strive to keep the loneliness away when my older kids go to school and my husband leaves for work. I strive to juggle all of my kids’ activities because I’m worried they are missing out on something. I strive to serve enough in ministry. I strive to keep our house from drowning in filth. I often feel I’m always going, but never really getting anywhere.

I’m exhausted from it. I’m done with it. It is not how God wants me to live. It’s not how God wants you to live.

The only way to make things different is to pray. I have been begging God to change me. I love Stasi’s thoughts on this subject:

God, in his faithfulness, is changing me. Instead of making me into someone else, he is making me more me. And that is one of the beautiful things about him. That the more his we become, the more ourselves we become; more our true selves. To have a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:3-4) is to have a heart of faith, a heart that trusts in God, a spirit that has been quieted by his love (Zephaniah 3:17) and filled with his peace. Not a heart that is striving and restless.

A woman in her glory, a woman of beauty, is a woman who is not striving to become beautiful or worthy or enough. She knows in her quiet center where God dwells that he finds her beautiful, has deemed her worthy, and in him, she is enough. In fact, the only thing getting in the way of our being fully captivating and enjoyed is our striving. (3)

God invites me to be who I already am. The more his we become, the more ourselves we become. I love that. And I love that God feels that way about us, loving us just as we are. The truth is so freeing for me, and hopefully for you too.

Stop striving. Stop perfecting. Quit hiding. Quit controlling.

Instead, offer yourself. Offer your heart. Be fully present. Be fully you. God thinks you are beautiful. And the more we offer our true selves - our rested and real, even vulnerable selves - the more beautiful we will be to others. When we offer our unguarded presence, we live like Jesus. And we invite others to do the same. (4)- emphasis mine.

As women, we all long to be beautiful. May we remember today that our most beautiful selves will flow from a heart that is rested and real.

What inspires you to rest?

God, help us to rest. In your Presence is rest for us; it is home for us. Forgive us for our frantic pace and “anxious toil.” Help us to cease striving and just be who you created us to be. Help us to fully live and fully love the people you have entrusted us with. Our longing to be beautiful will flourish as we learn to truly rest in you. Show us how to rest, Lord, because I think most of us have forgotten how. I know I have. In Jesus name, Amen.

Sources:
(1) - John and Stasi Eldredge, Captivating, Unveiling The Mystery of a Woman’s Soul
        (Nashville, TN; Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2005), 132-139.
(2) - Eldredge, Captivating, 132-139.
(3) - Eldredge, Captivatiing, 132-139-(verses in parentheses added by me).
(4) - Eldredge, Captivating, 132-139.

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If you are an imperfect wife, mom, daughter, or friend, struggling to stay focused on God in the craziness and find joy in the heartache, then we have something in common. I am a recovering perfectionist and daughter of the King, slowly learning to fully trust the One who sees me just as I am, and is already pleased. I’m so glad you are here.

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