August 4, 2010
"The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness." Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV)
Growing up, my cousin Thea was the epitome of everything I thought a young woman should be. She was tall and slender, wore the latest fashion trends and her hair was always perfectly coifed. I can't remember ever seeing even one hair out of place. She always made good grades and kept her room clean and organized. She was so graceful, seeming to float on air as she walked. I thought she surely must be a princess, royal and worthy of her beauty and grace.
I, on the other hand, was the complete opposite. I grew up on the short side of tall and the round side of slender. My family didn't have the finances to dress me in the latest fashion trends and my hair was a wild mess of frizzy curls, hardly ever combed and never perfectly coifed. My grades were average and I hated cleaning my room. I didn't float on air; I fumbled and tripped my way through life. Growing up I considered myself to be the farthest thing from royal or worthy and I was convinced I was an embarrassment and disappointment to my parents.
I use to daydream of being just like Thea. Sometimes I would imitate her behavior and gracious character in an effort to please my parents, hoping one day I would be worthy of their love and no longer an embarrassing disappointment.
Sadly, it took many years for me to see myself as a beautiful princess and it took even longer for me to stop living my life through the eyes of "if only." In all honesty, I had to come to the realization that it's not about changing my clothes or hairstyle to become beautiful; it's about having a beautiful heart that has been changed.
It is a daily process to lay aside the "if only's," but that's achievable when we follow the exhortation in Ephesians 5:1. "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children" (NIV).
Do you see it? I had been imitating the wrong person. My focus and attention needed to be on imitating the character traits of my heavenly Father, not another person. Focusing on and striving to imitate our heavenly Father is an important responsibility every believer in Christ has been given.
It's easy to look at other women and fashion our ideas of success and worth. We see the lovely and gracious exterior, we take note of another woman's success, and we fall into the trap of wanting what she has, wanting to be just like her. We delude ourselves into thinking that life would be better "if only…" The truth is, we will become beautiful women of godly influence when we put 1 Corinthians 11:1 into practice. "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ" (NIV).
As difficult as it may be to swallow, we were not created to have the perfect exterior appearance or gain the world's attention; we were created to live a life worthy of our calling and to reflect the beauty of our Lord Jesus Christ. As we do that our lives will draw others to the saving knowledge of Christ. And that far outlasts any temporary "if only" condition.
So Thea is no longer my role model - Jesus is. Who are you trying to conform to?
Dear Lord, please forgive my patterns of "if only." I want to find my satisfaction and completeness in You. Help me to focus on reflecting You with my life. You are my Lord and Savior. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
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Looking back with the wisdom of years, what would you tell your younger self is beautiful and worthy of love? What would you tell her is beautiful about her?
When tempted to compare yourself to another woman, instead of listing her "perfections," pray for her and then for yourself.
What "if only's" do I need to confess and lay at the foot of the cross?
What Scripture can I memorize to combat the "if only's?"
Hebrews 12:28, "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe." (NIV)
Psalm 36:7, "How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings." (NIV)
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