Sunday, December 13, 2015

True beauty...

Like many women I spend a wasteful amount of time and thought on how others, especially my husband, view my outward appearance. 
Much of who I believe myself to be is formed in front of the bathroom mirror or reflected in the automatic glass doors that greet me at the local shopping centre. They slide quickly open, but not quite fast enough. The top to toe view of self as I walk towards them will most often cause me to cringe.

Image is an advertisers dream.

We're told we will look amazing if we drink this, eat that, wear this, go there, join here etc etc...
The ceaseless advertising that tells us we're ugly, out-of-fashion, overweight, lonely, unhealthy and lazy reminds me of the bombing raids of WW2; dropping one bomb after another, scaring the wits from a person and removing all sense of physical and emotional security. With no idea when the next onslaught would come, life was an hour by hour watch and wait roller coaster.

Advertising 'bombs' can unsettle even the most confident of women at some stage or another, whilst the least fragile of our gender may be feeling the shattering effects in a day to day battle. 

We are told via all forms of advertising that our skin 'needs' product A to delay aging, 'will be happier and toned' by joining Group B, 'will looked better' wearing C's new wardrobe, can 'trust we are loved' if our husband gives us D's diamonds - and whether you truly believe them or not those insidious lies are driven deeper and deeper into our mind until we unwittingly see our worth through a distorted and unbalanced mirror.

But it's not just advertising which has the power to camouflage truth and magnify discontent.
Words from the past, especially childhood, may rise up to crush our self esteem too.
For example, my father never said a single positive word to me. When I was expecting my first child his comment to a friend was, "Give her a push and she'll roll for a mile". 
When I was raped at age 14 he took side with the three boys because their father was a sports hero he had long admired.
Now over the course of my life much of the 'less' I see myself to be stems from the abuse, neglect and cruelty of my dad, and the saddest thing is that I transferred all my insecurities from that father/daughter relationship onto my first (failed) marriage as a 17 year old, and then onto my second (wonderfully blessed) marriage to Mr E.
The damage of my childhood was etched so deep that not even the unconditional and faithful love of my husband through our 24 year (and still going strong) marriage has been able to dislodge it.

And this is where I arrive at today's Scripture.
I've been studying slowly through 1 Peter over the past month because I want to extract as many hidden gems as the Lord will give me, but the longest time has been spent pondering and praying 
through 1 Peter 3:1-4...

**Likewise you wives, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.
Do not let your beauty be that outward adorning of arranging the hair, or wearing gold, or of putting on fine apparel; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorrigible ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.**

As much as I think (or have been conditioned to think) that my fading and aging beauty can be restored with a wonder cream, gym membership, plastic surgery, herbal tonics, Weight Watchers, fashion wardrobe, personal trainer, or expensive makeover (all which will apparently cause me to 'hold the attention and admiration' of the man of my dreams) this is a lie straight from the arsenal of satan.

You see, my dear husband dislikes make-up and fancy clothes, gyms and fitness regimes, perfume and pomp, but what he dislikes most is when I speak down about myself. 
So when I took that TRUTH from the heart of the man who loves me most and let it simmer in my thoughts for a while it became quite obvious that I've perhaps been trying to look good for the world and not just him, so this is another insidious deception I've swallowed from the father of lies. 
After all, social media and advertising these days is all about 'look at me', 'listen to me', 'compare yourself to me'. More bombs. More to feel insecure about. More things to try. More faces and bodies better looking than I could ever hope to be. More reminders I am failing.

But back to truth...

Exposing the lies doesn't automatically mean I am able to cast off my personal insecurities, or look in the mirror and say "hey, you're beautiful, Jenny" - but it does mean that I can say out loud every time my low self opinion bites with a lie, "Outward appearance will not hold the heart of my beloved, but my gentleness, my daily encouragement of him, my desire to enjoy him, my faithfulness, my kindness, my personal confidence, my heart to serve delightfully, my love for Jesus and the Word of God - these do hold his heart every day and most importantly my inward beauty is magnified!"

Breaking of old habits and ancient thought patterns is not an overnight achievement for most people and it's certainly not for me, but until the Lord returns or He whisks me away from this earthly life I intend holding fast to the wise teaching from Peter and walking in the promise of Proverbs 31:30...

** Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.**

My husband praises me every day for who I am, and what he loves about me.
Every day.
Yet only once in 24 years has he told me I'm pretty.
He never saw that as important.
I should have listened to him more.

Download the printable Scripture card and devotion HERE until January 31st.


Sarah or Semmy said...

Jenny, you are one of the most beautiful women I know. The love of the Lord shines through you to others. That is the ultimate beauty.

Anonymous said...

Thought provoking post this morning Jenny. You are so right, it is all about the beauty within. I'm hoping that I can teach that important lesson to my grandchildren.

Guida said...

I'm sorry for all you went through in your childhood. Sadly neither of us were protected when we needed it most. I am glad that your wonderful husband sees just what a wonderful person you are. Thank you for this post and the reminder that our spirits are the true beauties.

Annie said...

When I was a teenager putting myself down, a very wise friend reminded me I was God's creation and by disrespecting myself I am disrespecting my Creator. I have never forgotten that and when I am struggling because I feel different or under appreciated I remind myself that God MADE me this way for his divine purpose. The comfort of being so totally loved is truly amazing and I thank you for you words that also remind me.

Jocelyn is Canadian Needle Nana said...

Truthfully, I have been sitting here a while absorbing what you wrote Jenny. I'm very touched by how brave you are to share your thought processes ensuing from painful experiences. It's made me realize I admire you all the more for how you put the emphasis in your posts on being positive, getting inspiration and solace from faith and being productive,giving women.

Ozjane said...

I know it takes time to believe, and I pray that the
Holy Sprit makes real to each of us, that God almighty, the supreme artist and creator of all time, has paintiently crafted and faceted and polished us to shine as His Jewels.
Mal 3:17 they shall be mine says the lord in the day when I shall make up my jewells
I love this reminder that the master jeweller found me, studied how best to cut, shape, facet and polish me to reflect His beauty. I am a jewel. A thing of greatest beauty and craftsmanship
I am made in the image of God...I am complete in Him, made perfect in Him and He rejoices over me with love and joy.
For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs."
Are we going to argue with God. Over our beauty and value.
I too have faced the mirror dread for years.....but I must I believe what a mirror says or what God says...
God may we be strong in your Grace.

Fee said...

Beauty comes from within and you my darling have oodles of beauty xxxx

Anonymous said...

You are beautiful, Jenny, inside and out. I could relate to so much of what you said. I always felt like the ugly duckling, the little brunette growing up between two gorgeous blonde, tall sisters. When I look back at pictures of myself now, I realize how untrue my evaluation of my looks was. I've come to appreciate my aging looks more than I ever did my young ones, and a lot of it comes from just what you said ... learning to understand that I am loved by everyone for what's inside. Thanks for this post today. It's so good to know we aren't alone in our foolishness, isn't it? =)

Sandra Bryan said...

I was reading along thinking it was about someone else and was totally surprised when I read this is about you! . Sorry you had to go through such demeaning times. Words can sure hurt. What is said is remembered. We try to forget but I know it is hard for me to forget. I try to forgive, even that is hard to do. I am greatful for your blog ,embroidery and reading about your life. Sandy from Florida, USA.

Unknown said...

Jenny when I have seen pictures of I always think how lovely you look. When I see your embroidery patterns I KNOW only a beautiful person could create such art. And when I read your comments your true beauty shows through. Like you I would ask my 1st husband why he never told me I looked nice. He said "If you ever look nice, I'll tell you". My doctor told me "you would be pretty if you lost weight". And it seemed like I could never please my mother. When I married the love of my life I found I no longer needed the words. His actions every day show me how much he loves me and his love isn't based on looks. I really like what Annie Richter said about being made by God for his purpose. Jenny, there are a lot of us out here who love you and think you are beautiful just as you are. Please don't change. (((HUGS))) Sharon

Mary E. Stephens said...

Amen, Jenny! Thank you for sharing this so-important message! Thank you also for having the courage to share the tragedy of your father's mistreatment and the rape in order to emphasize how real and lasting these mindsets can be. I think that many of us are affected from different life experiences, but the commercial bombs hit us all! But, more importantly, the word of God is powerful for all of us if we'd just listen to it. Thanks again.

Baa. xxx said...

Beautifully written Jenny. You are such a treasure!

Anonymous said...

I agree you are a very beautiful person , inside and out. Having read all of your blogs posts from day one I can see that you always put others first and through your creativity make things beautiful for others as well.

I don't have anyone in my life anymore to tell me I am doing well, not on a daily basis, but I make sure I tell myself, it is all too easy to pick on the faults we have rather than our good points.

Big hugs to a beautiful person who makes people happy through what she does.

Alison x

Allie-oops Designs said...

*sniffle*cough* Reading this through tears at all you've suffered, my darling DARLING girl. And knowing that it has all led to shape who you are - His beauty shines brightest in our darkness. The longer I live, the more I hate this old flesh, and delight in the knowing that it will not last - my flesh cannot inherit the kingdom of God - and that He will give us beauty for ashes.

Our bible teaches us that our minds are transformed by the reading of His word, and that we must renew our minds daily through the reading of it. THAT is my weapon against all the fiery darts of the enemy, no matter where they come from, media, advertising, other people. I can get so low - so depressed - so stressed - but let me get in the word of God, and it all falls away. I need to put on the whole armor of God in order to stand. I can't stand without Him.

Holding you oh so close in prayer, my beloved.

Farm Quilter said...

Annie had a very wise friend! God created each and every one of us to be unique...and we all know that God doesn't make mistakes or make ugly (not sure what He was going after when he made snails though)! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder when it comes to physical beauty, but spiritual beauty is also in the eye of the beholder - God sees that and that's what's important!! I have found that spiritual beauty shines through a person to the point that all I can see is their spiritual beauty...honey, you are SHINING!!! In word, deed and in every picture I see of you, your love of the Lord just glows!! In the end, He is one I want to please...I want to hear Him say "well done, good and faithful servant". I have no doubt that He will be saying that to you!!

Águeda said...

Creo que no hay nada malo en el maquillaje o en la ropa cara. Yo no los uso, pero no creo que sean malos. Yo creo que el maquillaje y la ropa cara son malos cuando son mal usados. Son malos si una persona mala los usa como símbolo de poder sobre otros. Son malos si una persona insegura se obsesiona con ellos. Son malos si ocultan a la persona en vez de adornarla.
Querida Jenny, eres una de las personas más bellas que he tenido la suerte de cruzarme en el camino. Serías igual de bella llena de joyas y maquillaje. Serías igual de bella desnuda y recién lavada como un bebé. Serías igual de bella llena de barro hasta los ojos. Porque tu belleza surge de tan dentro de tu personalidad, que nos llega incluso a través de estos fríos ordenadores. Me alegro de que tu marido sea tu remanso de paz. Él también es afortunado de tenerte a ti. El Señor os Bendiga a los dos y a vuestra familia.

Sharon - creativity and family said...

Oh Jenny, your inward beauty shines out right here and it is the heart that God looks upon, it is truly so easy to get caught up with outward appearance and spend too little time nurturing the heart and soul. May God truly bless for all you do here on your blog. xx

shirley flavell said...

Dear Jenny, your battle has made you a beautiful, kind person.Hugs Shirley

millygit said...

Thank you Jenny for sharing this post, it is a much needed voice in the noisy chaos of advertising, that so many of us 'compare' ourselves to the advertisements I now for years I would be sucked in and tried to improve myself, but in reality my real improvement came thru Christ's Love for me and much healing that only He could bring, I still at times struggle with improving myself but catch the lie so much quicker these days and know that shame is the root of what makes me 'try' and I am healing in God's way and timing.

Much love, and you heal in Him,

SallyB said...

I love looking forward to the words of wisdom you share with us! May God richly bless you this Christmas Season and that we all remember the true reason we celebrate! Thank you so much for your Friendship.