Gazing into the mirror, the face of a far older woman than I remember, stares back at me. Lines and falling skin are replacing a youthful face more and more each day. Feeling a little disgusted, I ponder fillers, Botox, and even the “S” word – surgery. From this superficial trance, I awake and remind myself that I must age gracefully, to be who God has made me, and to do each phase of life well.
From age 12 to 60 those of us in the western world have become obsessed with outward appearance and eternal youth. It’s easy to fall in the trap of trying to look perfect. Unfortunately, in the rush to look like Barbie we have completely forgotten about inner beauty.
While getting exercise and caring for ones appearance is a good thing, more importantly we must care for and challenge our hearts and minds so that the beauty of Christ radiates from the inside out.
A physically plain person who is overflowing with peace and contentment; that is full of grace, hope, and the real love of Christ, will radiate a beauty that will be attractive to everyone. Even a gorgeous 20 something decked out in designer clothes and perfect make up but is void of peace in her heart can’t compete with that.
The same goes for men. It’s not about muscles, or clothes, or how tall you are. It’s about a truly submitted heart before God, full of the light that only the Holy Spirit can provide. You will not find a better leader, a stronger spirit, or a more handsome man than that.
We are neither our face nor our shape. We are neither our clothes nor our wrinkles. We certainly are not our physical imperfections. But we are spirit; and a spirit if ignored dries up and dies. When that happens, the true definition of “ugly” begins to take over our body.
By the grace of God I will remember to focus on loving and trusting God fully, to allow forgiveness and hope to reign in my heart, and to ask the Holy Spirit to fill me completely each day. Resetting the thinking process in this way will puff up wrinkles more than any filler can ever hope to accomplish.
1 Samuel 16:7 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 people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
By Rhonda Shelford Jansen
The birth of a New Year has come and with it a renewed hope that we will do better this year. A hope that our missteps and failures of last year can be erased by improving our performance at work, play, relationships, and life with a New Year’s Resolution. These New Year Resolutions are a national preoccupation with talking heads on TV and radio spending several weeks hyper focused on the topic. They ask probing questions like “Why do we make them” “How long does the average person keep their resolution?” “What type of resolutions do we make?” Resolutions are honorable; they show an acknowledgement that someone has room to improve and a desire to take action toward it.
The problem is, we often make lofty resolutions and end up failing within days. That’s why I have an aversion to the word “resolution” it has a fatal sound to me; it seems to imply that a person either accomplishes it or fails. Since I dislike failure, I’ve made the conscience decision to replace the fatal New Year’s Resolution with a list of reasonably attainable goals for the New Year. A goal is something one strives to accomplish and the process of accomplishing it one is allowed a few set-backs and yes, even failure.
So, I wrote down a few goals for the New Year and while pondering these goals I realized that each one is actually a byproduct of discipline. Three goals I’ve made are to add one more day of yoga a week to my schedule, read my Bible consistently, and to write every day. These are not exciting or daunting goals and yet I will struggle with each one because it is so easy to get wrapped up in the attention seeking demands of each day and tasks that can be easily postponed, will be.
After contemplating how I can be successful at accomplishing my three simple goals I had an epiphany, my goal should be to practice more self-discipline in all I do. I don’t need to work at attending one more day of yoga, I need to write it down on my calendar and stick to it. I need to discipline myself to make reading my Bible a priority, not something I squeeze in when there is time. I need to discipline myself to write every day, as the Nike ads say; I need to “Just Do IT.”
Sometime ago while listening to the radio I heard two authors talk about a radical new idea in parenting and I felt like someone was hitting me over the head with the “obvious” that had been obscured from my understanding for years. They said something like this, “self-esteem should not be the goal when parenting because it is the byproduct of self-discipline. Parents should concentrate on teaching self-discipline because self-discipline will bring about success and success will bring about true positive self-esteem.” Now, that is powerful and Biblical and it applies to adults too.
Even in the parts of our lives that are emotionally driven self-discipline plays a significant part. I don’t always feel loving towards my spouse, but I do choose to love him; the act of choosing is employing self-discipline. I don’t always want to forgive someone who has hurt me, but I know God tells us to forgive, so I pray for God’s help and choose to forgive. And this fact brings me to the thought that I couldn’t possible understand the power and depths of forgiveness if God through Jesus had not graciously forgiven me.
So, I’ve chosen to replace unattainable New Year Resolutions with the process of setting reasonable and attainable goals. Then I decided to replace my reasonable goals with one year long, actually a lifelong, goal to employ more self-discipline every day. I like this goal and feel confident I will improve the level of self-discipline in my life even though at times it will be very hard.
Debora Shelford Hobbs