Bright, Bold, and Beautiful

If you were to choose three words to describe yourself what would they be?

Would you choose bright, bold, and beautiful?

Why or why not?

In complete honesty, I would love to pick bright, bold, and beautiful to describe myself, but I probably would not select those three words.

If I were asked to select three words and publicly share my answers, they would probably be much different than if I only thought them to myself.

The words I have thought about myself in the past are not the most encouraging.  Words like broken, failure, mess, fat, ugly, stupid, undisciplined, and no good would have been likely selections scrolling across the ticker tape of my mind.

Behind each of these are volumes of experiential evidence from the days of my life to support these words.  The standards that I can not meet and live up to.  The goals I failed to achieve, the mistakes that have piled up, poor decisions, things people have said to me, and my being down right self centered.

When a word like bright or bold or beautiful would come scrolling through my mind it was easy to dismiss it, clearly it is the oddity that does not belong among the others.

Perhaps it is my own struggles and experiences in this area that fuel my desire to be such a passionate encourager.  Whenever I hear people feeling downcast, and frustrated, using dark dingy words about themselves, it captures my attention like a bolt of lightening and thunderous aftershock.  I know what a battle taking those thoughts captive can be.

How do you want to be remembered? 

I have often asked myself this very question, how do I want to be remembered.  For some reason I can come up with so many words that I wish would describe me.  Loving, tender, steadfast, faithful, joyful, encouraging, generous, kind, patient, fun, vibrant, zestful, and filled with purpose.

I have been left with this great disconnect.  Why can I so easily list beautifully positive words that I wish others would remember me by, but when I think about words to describe myself my list is dingy with criticisms?

Maybe it is easy to come up with a list of the ways I hope to be remember because there still feels like there is time remaining.  Time to work harder, to operate smarter, to become wiser, and to grow into that person that I would like to be known as.

But what if there is not?

I do not know what the number of my days are.  I also do not know what the quality of my days will be.  I really do not know how much more I will be able to do.

It’s about the WHO not the DO

Work.  Effort.  Achievement.  Goal.  Accomplishment.  Do.

Upon reflection it seems that the words I use to describe myself, the words I hope are used to describe me, are weighted heavily upon actions and outcomes of those actions.

So if the actions are all removed, what is left of me?  What do I amount to then?

Two Sundays ago in church during the music of our worship time I closed my eyes and had this deeply joy filled vision.  It was Jesus and I at a big celebration.  I was just a young girl dressed in white like a flower girl.  I was in his arms and there was great laughter among the people.  Jesus hugged me and set me down to run and play.

There was this beautiful feeling of freedom and protection all that the same time.  There was giggling and running around between knees of those engrossed in conversation.  No matter where I went, every time I looked back at Jesus his eyes met mine and he smiled in such a way that it glimmered in his eyes all while he continued talking to others.

It was such a beautiful sight.  Suddenly, there was a longing in my heart to go back to a time of freedom and protection.  I had a hurt that I had completely lost that little girl and all her bright bold beauty somewhere along the way.  I just wanted to hold that vision as long as I could.

But, then suddenly in the vision I wasn’t little anymore.  I was me now but dressed in a stunning white lace gown.  The crowd had disappeared.  It was just Jesus and I dancing.  It was like a beautiful father daughter dance at a wedding.  When we stopped he gave me a big smile, like the one when I was little and gave me a great big hug.

That’s when I heard the words, “I love you for who you are.”

These things I have been pondering in my heart ever since.  In fact, I came home and pulled out this old picture of me as a flower girl when I was a young.

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I’ve kept this photo out to look at near where I set my calendar and to do list when I am working so I can look at it often.  It is just a beautiful version of myself.  It’s this picture of me that just makes me smile when I look at it.

Here’s this beautiful little girl.  It is who she is that makes me smile.  It is her bright, bold, beautiful self that warms my heart.

This little girl did not have an accumulation of successes and failures to determine her value, or the words she was worthy of.  This was me before the teen pregnancy and young marriage.  This was me before the bachelors and master degrees.  This was me before the family and the farm.  This was me before the career and volunteering pursuits.

This was before the mission to encourage with love, passion and enthusiasm.  This was before PEP UP for Joy.  This was just me being who I am at that point in my life; bright, bold, and beautiful.

So this girl has grown into woman.  She has seen, experienced, done, undone, rejoiced, cried, succeeded, and failed, but through it all, she is still there.  She and me, we are one and the same.  I may not see her most days when I look at myself in the mirror.

But, I know that Jesus sees her.  He sees her as bright, bold, and beautiful every day.  Jesus sees me.  In the mighty power of His goodness He can somehow see me as I was then, as I am now, and as I will become (which I can’t even begin to imagine).

Not only does He see me, Jesus loves me for who I am.

Everyone once and a while I think He gives a glimpse of this bright, bold, beautiful girl to others.  Just at those moments when we are in greatest need of affirmation and encouragement Jesus allows others to see and to speak life into us.

In 2017 I was given one of the greatest compliments of my life by a friend who said, “You are strength and beauty and fun and happiness all wrapped up in a human being and you gift it to so many.”  

I have that compliment written on a sticky note right next to this picture as an extra reminder of all that is wrapped up in who I am.

Loved for Who You Are

You are loved for WHO you ARE!  Jesus loves you.  As you were.  As you are.  As you will be.

What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it—we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are. But that’s also why the world doesn’t recognize us or take us seriously, because it has no idea who he is or what he’s up to.

But friends, that’s exactly who we are: children of God. And that’s only the beginning. Who knows how we’ll end up! What we know is that when Christ is openly revealed, we’ll see him—and in seeing him, become like him. All of us who look forward to his Coming stay ready, with the glistening purity of Jesus’ life as a model for our own.”   1 John 3:1-3 (Message) 

Who we really are…children of God!  Children who are beloved, treasured, bright, bold, and beautiful in His sight.  Children who can always connect with His eyes and see the glimmer of love shining back at us.

I love how John writes, “Who knows how we’ll end up!”  We certainly don’t know how we will end up, but God does.

For all of us who need to hear it one more time, You are loved for who You are.

For the mothers, who wonder if they are doing right by their families.  Who feel like they are burning candles at both ends and the middle in between.  You are loved for who You are!

For the fathers, who are weighted down by life’s responsibilities.  Who wonder if they are doing enough and if they have too much to handle all at the same time.  Whose hearts are burdened by providing and leading families forward in faith.  You are loved for who You are!

For the youth who look out upon the vast array of decisions to be made that will take them out of what they have known and into the great life beyond, and wonder where to even begin.  You are loved for who You are!

For those who feel forgotten about, lonely, and disconnected, wondering if the best was behind and dreading the continuation of dark doldrums.  Jesus sees you and smiles upon you with a glimmer in His eyes.  You are loved for who You are.

For those struggling and suffering from ailments, tragedies, failures, and the world’s compounded complications where the tempestuous thoughts battle against thoughts that are pure, noble, and true requiring exhausting effort to tread through the waters of daily life.  You are loved for who You are.

Pray Through It 

Beloved and Treasured Lord, 

As the days of life, and all that fill those days accumulates, we can lose sight of You.  We can miss out on the loving way You glance at us, smiling with that glimmer in Your eyes.  We can forget that we are still within the safety of Your watchful eyes.  We can forget who we are because all that we do and all that needs to be done screams for our focus.  

Lord, help us to remember and dwell on the fact that we are loved for who we are.  May Your love be the fuel that we need to be bright, bold, and beautiful in the splendid ways that You have created us to be.  We carry the purity of Your love with us through it all, for better or for worse, unchanged by all of life’s changes.  

May Your love for who we are help us to select words of life, not dark dingy words of death, to focus on and to describe ourselves with.  May we take to heart Your scriptures to give us hope, and may we share these holy words with each other to bring good to those willing to listen. 

In the name of Jesus who loves us all as we are, bright, bold, and beautiful, amen.  

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