She walks in beauty

she walks in beauty"She walks in beauty..."  

The opening line of Lord Byron's poem is on repeat in my thoughts. The words linger and sink low. They weigh me down with a deep sense of longing that cannot be satisfied.

 

I want to be that woman. The one who would inspire poetry by simply walking in a room. Beauty and grace floating with her like an aura. Unavoidably knitted into the fabric of who she is.

 

I believe that looks do not define a person. I know that I am loved unconditionally by my Creator. I understand that I am not an accident.

 

And yet... and yet... it's so easy to burn with jealousy towards those who seem so flawless. Who can stumble out of the house with a messy bun and a five minute make-up routine and still turn every head when they stroll down the aisles of a store.

 

Is it the brokenness of my own heart or the influences of our culture that cause my eyes to magnify my own flaws and see only the stunning perfection of others?

 

(I ran out of time, and had to leave this post unresolved. Just keeping it real today, I guess.)

 

Five Minute FridayThis post is linking up with Lisa Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday. A weekly prompt with strict instructions: write for 5 minutes and post. No over-editing. No do-overs. An practice of freedom. A way to let go of perfectionism. An exercise for some not often used writing muscles. Read more posts or link up over there. Today’s prompt was: SHE. (Full disclosure: I write the post in 5 minutes, but I take a little extra time to create a graphic to go with it. I think that's still okay according to the rules...)

the monster that always comes back

I thought I killed it. But then it came back yesterday. Several times. This monster just won’t die.

It comes out when I am on Facebook. It comes out when I am at the gym. It comes out when I am reading blogs. It comes out when I am at the store.

Comparison. It is the monster that always comes back.

The monster comes at me armed.

Sometimes it is armed with envy. “My life would be better if I were that skinny.” Sometimes it is armed with self-abasement. “I’ll never be as funny as her.” Sometimes it is armed with jealousy. “Why are some people so blessed?” Sometimes it is armed with judgment. “She looks too perfect. No one is that perfect.” Sometimes it is armed with pride. “Well, at least I’m more successful than him.”

No matter which of these weapons the monster chooses, it always has the same result: Comparison pierces my heart, and contentment bleeds out.

Suddenly, I am no longer happy with how God has made me. I am no longer pleased with the path God has me on. I am no longer filled with God’s peace.

In Psalm 4, David is once again on the run from someone. He is feeling down. He is calling out to God for rescue and justice. Yet, in the midst of that, he prays something amazing.

Many, LORD, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?” Let the light of your face shine on us. Fill my heart with joy when their grain and new wine abound. – Psalm 4:6-7

David asks God to shine His face shine on those who are looking for prosperity. He asks for God to bless them.

When I see someone who is successful, I don’t often pray for God to make them more successful. In fact, I don’t think I have ever prayed that. I am more likely to pray that God would make me as successful as that person.

But David’s prayer is for the other person’s blessing, and his own heart.

Bless them, Lord. And when they are blessed, fill my heart with joy.

David prays for a joy that runs deeper than blessing. A joy rooted in his relationship with God. A relationship that is secure through our time in the pit and someone else’s time in the spotlight. A relationship that allows him to finish the psalm with this verse.

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety. – Psalm 4:8

You alone, Lord, are my security. I do not need to compare to others. I need to look to You. You, Lord, bring me peace.

And so, the next time the monster comes out, I have a strategy. A defense that I think will work against any of the weapons it brings.

The next time I start to compare myself to someone else, I will pray for God to shine His face upon the other person.

Lord, when someone is more popular than me, bless them. Lord, when someone is prettier than me, bless them. Lord, when someone is more successful than me, bless them. Lord, when someone is smarter than me, bless them.

Bless them Lord, and fill my heart with joy. In peace and security, I will rest in You.

within me

Within me, there exists someone I wish was not there. She is someone I have become good at filtering, so she is not discovered.

This person I filter is jealous. Jealous when she sees women with thin bodies. Jealous when she sees writers with experience and exposure. Jealous when she sees fun and creative parents.

This person I filter is judgmental. Judgmental when she sees certain people eat certain things. Judgmental when she sees leaders make decisions she doesn't agree with. Judgmental when she sees parents with rowdy children.

This jealous and judgmental person affects me more than I would like to admit. This may even be the first time I have admitted to others that she is there. She resides within me because of issues and insecurities that I have not dealt with correctly.

This inner, secret version of me needs more than filtering, she needs rooting out.

I recently stumbled upon a great resource from North Point Church in Georgia. They have created a “best of” podcast from Andy Stanley’s messages. I have been listening to the series called It Came from Within. It’s a helpful resource to think about moving past filtering actions and towards changing hearts.

Above all else, guard your heart,  for everything you do flows from it. –Proverbs 4:23

Maybe one day I will have a little less filtering to do.

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