You are a Beautiful Woman

distorted reflections“You are a beautiful  woman,” he said.

A sigh wrestled with the smile on my mouth as I told him to play the cards. Just play the cards already.

Three hours later, I stood before my bedroom mirror in my Easter dress with my curls undone and I repeated his words aloud. “You are a beautiful woman.”

It’s funny that those words can have such an impact on me even when they are spoken by a guy who is gloating that my discard just helped him effectively triple my score in gin rummy. But they do. Because they remind me of something I’ve always known, but have a hard time remembering:

God makes beautiful things. I’m a firm believer of that. And yet, I don’t always let that knowledge slip from my head to my heart. I don’t always feel beautiful. But I am.

I am a beautiful woman.

And it’s crazy how simply speaking those words aloud can leave me breathless, reeling with the possibility that maybe, just maybe they’re true. Maybe I am beautiful. Maybe I am desirable. Maybe I’ve got more worth than I ever ascribed to me.

I don’t think of myself as an insecure human being. I’m not one to string lies into titles and lay them upon myself, but I do sometimes struggle with the word beautiful. With my vision of it and God’s vision of it. Because I often see beauty as that illusive image even the most desirable woman in the world can’t hold onto for long.

But that’s not what beautiful is.

Beautiful is any vessel God has crafted for His glory, even though they’ve long forgotten to find beauty in the curves of the clay that gives them form.

Beautiful is the colors cast upon the floors of God’s house by a stained glass window that is comprised of all the broken and flawed pieces of you.

Beautiful is the bride of Christ dancing in her Lover’s arms.

Beautiful is you.

Yes, you.

You are a beautiful woman.

And maybe that thought has been elusive for too long, but today I encourage you to take hold of it. Cradle it close to your heart. Roll it around and around on your tongue until it finds a home there.

Because you are a beautiful  woman. And you’ve been forgetting that far too long.

Set Beautiful Free

Three weeks from today, I’ll be boarding a plane to India where I’ll visit a ministry that works in the world’s largest red light district. Their vision: to see an end to sex slavery. Their mantra: Set Beautiful Free.

In light of this upcoming trip, I was delighted to find that the new sermon series at my church is on beauty. It’s like God’s four week training session on what it truly means to set beautiful free. Though I feel like lavishing love upon the women of Kamathipura’s red light district is a great place to start, I’ve become increasingly aware of the beauty that needs to be released right here in my own hometown.

We’re not living up to our full potential. We’re not truly letting beauty run free in our lives. Many of us don’t even see the beauty of our lives because we’re so concerned with the pain of the ugly. But beauty is there.

Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

Did you hear that? That’s beautiful. God delights over you. He finds joy in you. The very thought of you is enough to put a song in His heart. He finds you breathtakingly beautiful and absolutely amazing. Trust me, He would have made you a different way if He thought something about you wasn’t perfect.

Like a butterfly emerging from his cocoon, God yearns to draw beauty out of our lives. He longs to call forth the lovely creation He fashioned in each of our souls. But only when we embrace the beauty – when we are able to see what God sees in us – will we be able to spread our wings and float on the gentle melody of His love.

As I walk among the people who have dedicated their lives to setting beautiful free in the city of Mumbai, I pray that you too will set beautiful free. May your heart be filled with the passion of your Father’s love, and may you truly be freed to fly in the fullness of His grace.

Dream big dreams. And set beautiful free.