Friday, December 11, 2009

In Its Place

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all? I used to think it might be me. But as I grew up not only did I become painfully aware of my shortcomings, I noticed there are other people out there a lot prettier than me. After I got married, aged, gained some weight and had kids, the time and attention I paid to my appearance diminished. So, I seem to have transferred those feelings to my kids. Who has the cutest kids? Well, I do of course.

This week when we had "the hair incident" with Maren I realized I am way more invested in the physical beauty of my kids than I would like to admit. I know it's ridiculous. It's just hair. It will grow back. She hasn't lost her hair because she is fighting cancer. However, I couldn't help but feeling a little depressed about it. We were just getting her bangs grown out the way I wanted. She looks like a boy. I hope she will wear the pretty hat I ordered her but I doubt she will.

Now when people see her pixie hair, they say "I like her hair. Did you have to do that? " Or "What happened?" Which is all fine and good. It's pretty obvious. But it still makes me feel kind of bad.

I hated when some of my babies had baby acne. As my older kids grow into their "awkward" stage, I look at their crooked teeth and shudder. Some kids are overweight or need glasses. Some are too tall or too short.

I don't want people to look at my kids and wonder what happened. I want them to say, "You have the most beautiful children."

When my kids don't look good, I want to fix it. I sometimes cringe at their appearance; a dirty face or mis-matched clothes.

We live in a world that is all about physical beauty and outer appearances. Being beautiful leads to money, success and acceptance. The bible sends a different message.

Proverbs 31:30
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

1 Peter 3:3-4
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, 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.

I don't think that means that we can't or shouldn't help our kids look their best. When they have an encounter with a scissor we can do our best to fix it. We can buy our kids braces so their teeth are straight. Or teach them to wash their face to help control acne. Maybe there is a cream that will help diminish the appearance of a scar. God wants us to take care of our bodies.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
But where is the balance? How do you teach them to care for themselves without crossing the line into superficiality?

In 1 Samuel 8 the people of Israel demand a king. They want to be like other nations. They think it will be their ticket to victory. God had told them they would have a king in the future , but for now HE was their king.

1 Samuel 8:6-7
But when they said, "Give us a king to lead us," this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him, "Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected as their king, but me."

Demanding a king was a rebellious act. God goes ahead and lets them have their King with a warning: the King will own you. But the people do not care.

Saul is chosen as the first king and his main credentials are his looks.

1 Samuel 9:2
He had a son named Saul, an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites - a head taller than any of the others.

The Israelites desire for a King was idolatrous. They wanted something to worship and believe in, in place of God. They wanted protection and deliverance from their enemies. They soon realized that their tall and handsome king wasn't exactly Prince Charming.

When God chooses David, the shepherd they had to go get out of the field, to succeed Saul he says this,

But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

It says that David was handsome.

So he sent and had him brought in. He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the LORD said, "Rise and anoint him; he is the one." 1 Samuel 16:12

But David was a man after God's own heart. It was the inside that made him King material.

It seems like the balance comes in showing them why we should take care of ourselves. It's not just so people will notice us and think we are pretty or handsome. It's because God made us and we take care of the bodies he gave us for his purposes and glory.

So when the outward appearance takes up most of your time and money, that's not the right balance. If you want to be noticed, that's not the right motivation. When you need to look good to make up for the things you don't like about yourself, that's not what God intended.

If you won't leave the house because of a big pimple or will only dress your kids in the most expensive clothes, then your focus is on the wrong things.

When you make the outward appearance your king, it will own you.

Being obsessed with our outward appearance is putting that in God's place. He is the one that deserves the most attention in our lives. When we put him first and spend time in His word, he'll transform us into the most beautiful people. That's good news because my heart is much more pliable and transformable than my face.

I am way more superficial than I'd like to believe. This is a lesson I need to learn and live. I've got to put beauty in its place: behind God.


Peter and Nancy said...

I loved this post, and also your post about the dollar and the electronic organizer . . . Raising children has exposed so many things in me, too. Thanks for writing about them to help illuminate them and connect them to God's dreams for us and our kids.

The Bergman Family said...

Well said! I hope that as many people as humanly possible read this.

Love the new blog and, incidentally, I LOVE Maren's hair.

Anonymous said...

So a short scruffy Prince Matter-of-Fact is ok? Good for me!

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