Standard of Beauty

Yesterday, I wrote a blog post about how I view myself in relationship to pictures of me. While writing, I was inspired to write about another issue I find myself dwelling in: beauty. What is beauty? Who is beautiful? What are the standards? etc. This is something I feel all women think about and struggle with. I had a thought a few weeks ago, what if we never had mirrors? We would never know what we really looked like and would never think of ourselves as ugly because there would be no standard of beauty. I know that thought is far-fetched, but think about it. One of the very first things I do in the morning is look at myself in the mirror. Most of the time I’m thinking, “Dang, I am so hot” (sarcastically of course) but we all do this. We get ready everyday in preparation of portraying ourselves the way we want other people to see us. It’s just become a part of our routine.

I know there is a such thing as hygiene and it is CERTAINLY important to take care of the bodies we have been given, but I know I get up earlier in the mornings to shower, because I want to be fresh, clean, and ready for the day. Once again, this is not a bad thing, but I spend nearly an hour every morning blow drying & straightening my hair, as well as applying make-up. I read a statistic that a woman spends an average of TWO years of her life looking at herself in the mirror. That’s 104 weeks. 730 days. As compared to a man who spends only 6 months looking at himself in a mirror. Here’s my question: why do women feel compelled to spend so much time on themselves? I know that there are plenty of men who deal with self-image issues as well, and it is becoming increasingly evident that men want to be considered “beautiful” in their own manly way. But it just seems to me that women feel that pressure more often than men do.

I also know there is a part of me that wants to look nice because it’s just a part of the way God made me, but this culture wants to DEFINE women by their beauty. Women find their identity in beauty.  For some, beauty comes naturally, others have to do a little more to achieve it. No matter if you are the most physically gorgeous girl or the girl who could care less about what you look like, women desire to be beautiful and wanted by a man.

But man sees only outward beauty and sometimes we value ourselves and others based on what we SEE. For example, every time the Ladybirds perform at football games, the guys around me are hollering and screaming about how “hot” they all are. And yes, they are. Trust me, girls look at them and think, “Wow, that’s what I gotta look like for a guy to notice me or think I’m attractive? How do I get on that Ladybird workout?” Been there, done that. But I also know that there is more to those girls than how amazing they look or how awesome their dance routine is at a football game. Except society forgot to mention one thing, they don’t care. Beauty has a standard and if you don’t fit it, you’re not worth much. The phrase, “She’s got a great personality” doesn’t even matter. In fact, people just associate that with, “she must be ugly”. Shoot, we got it ALL wrong.

The sad part is that Christian guys are really no different. Yeah, they want a girl who loves Jesus, but they also want someone who meets all of their physical criteria as well. And I’m just as guilty. Obviously there has to be something there to have a connection with someone, I get that. But so far in my personal situation, I’ve got nothing. No guy, no experience. Just a big whopping goose egg. So, naturally, I blame my looks. I know I love Jesus and my relationship with him is pretty strong. I feel like I have a good connection with my Savior and could bring a lot to the table in a relationship with a man. I have a lot to offer, but no one has ever pursued me to find that out.  Nothing stands out about me. The problem must be because I’m not attractive.  It has to be my looks. I’m not good enough, physically, to be with any man. And that lie holds me back. It always has. In general, I’m cheating myself out of some great friendships because I’m not satisfied with how I look. I think that people don’t even want to be around me because I’m too fat and have 9000 chins. Yes, I have had these stupidly petty thoughts.

But as soon as those thoughts dictate how I view who I am, Satan wins. I don’t know about you, but the words, “wins” and “Satan” do not belong together. I can’t imagine how sad God feels when his creation isn’t pleased with who they are based on man’s view of beauty. I came across 1 Peter 3:3-4 when searching how God sees beauty. It says, “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” The word that stands out is precious. In God’s sight a gentle and quiet spirit is precious. Let’s just rest in that for a moment….

Our Creator thinks we are precious. Precious means “of great value; not to be wasted or treated carelessly.” Yet, how often do we let man treat us carelessly? The Most High Father thinks that we are not to be wasted or treated carelessly. We should be taken care of. And he so desperately wants to do that for us. He wants to take care of his children. Yes, there will be days where Satan will win and we will not view ourselves as children of God. But the good news for us is that the battle has been won! Christ already took one for the team; he gave us a break. And that is where our identity belongs. It’s time to let our standard of beauty be how the Father sees us. After all, HE is the one that created such precious beings.


A Picture is Worth a Thousand…

Today, I spent nearly an hour looking through old pictures. I went all the way back to the beginning of senior year of high school. Every once and while I like to look back and remember who I was back then. It’s amazing to see how much I’ve changed over the course of 3 years. Honestly, it’s crazy to think how much I’ve changed in ONE year.

But as I was looking through those pictures, I couldn’t help but think how much I never really liked pictures of me from high school. I went along with taking them because all my friends loved doing it. There was one point in time that I loved taking pictures all the time, but as I’ve gotten older it just doesn’t suit me like it does for other people. I look around at any social media site and people are constantly taking pictures whether it be #SelfieSunday #TransformationTuesday or #ThrowbackThursday. It seems that we find so much value in a picture. I find myself frustrated with how much we put our lives out there in the snap of a picture.

Now, don’t get me wrong, some pictures are absolutely timeless and worth the shot. Like a mother holding her firstborn for the first time, a man and wife on their wedding day, a family whose child graduated from high school, etc. All those moments are perfect for capturing the moment of something that you want to remember. Those moments are touching.

I’m just gonna be totally honest. Maybe my problem isn’t the picture, but it’s how I view myself. We all judge ourselves a lot harsher than other people do, but I can’t help but think that maybe I don’t like pictures because I don’t want to remember myself looking the way that I do. It’s frustrating to think of yourself in one way but when a picture is taken, I see something totally different. As SOON as I look at a picture of me, I find absolutely everything wrong with it as I can. I ask myself why I feel one way but look another. Man, what a sad reaction.

I had to take myself away from Instagram because I felt too much pressure when looking at other people’s pictures. I got really sad and depressed when I saw how beautiful everyone was all the time or how great their life must be. That’s not how Christ called us to live. He never wanted us to live in bondage by earthly things or people. He wants us to live in HIS freedom. But how do we do that on the daily? That’s where it gets difficult. Handing over our fears and frustrations daily seems nearly impossible. And there are days when I don’t do it.

But then I read verses like Psalm 137: 8-11, “8 He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. 9 He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call. 10 His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man; 11 the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” I don’t know about you, but verses 10-11 make me look to God and say, “Oh, right. That’s what you want from me.” He doesn’t care how pretty we are or how much time we put into our homework or even how much we work out. I LOVE our God! He loves to comfort his people when we feel overwhelmed or frustrated with life.

We are always looking for ways to please man and make ourselves look good, but God delights in those who fear and put their hope in him. That should be my number one priority above all else. That’s my prayer today, father. Let me be pleasing to you, not by what I do but by who I am. I am a daughter of the most high king!

Take in the moment

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to go to one of America’s most prosperous cities, New York City. This place is massive. We were there for 2 1/2 days and still didn’t get the chance to see everything we wanted to see–thanks government shutdown, btw– we saw everything from a Cinderella broadway show to Chinatown and Little Italy. I loved going shopping as well as taking part of the culture that has settled there. The restaurant we to in Little Italy had some of THE BEST tortellini I’ve ever had, hands down. We saw the 9/11 memorial, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, and even got to be on Mike Huckabee’s TV show. That’s only a small taste of everything we did. I could go on for days about every little detail, but as you can see, we got to be apart of a lot while we were there.

All this to say, it was an amazing experience to share with my mom and grandma. It’s funny to see how similar and different we all are. I love how we’re all related but all brought something different to the trip. Grandma was up and ready for breakfast before mom and I were even awake, mom planned out the whole trip (not to mention paid for nearly all of it as well), and I took pictures everywhere we went. Yet even in these differences, we all got to share these moments together.

We were just 3 women in the midst of thousands and thousands of people walking around. Some with their classmates, others with their families from other parts of the world just coming to check out this historical city, just like us. It blew my mind how many people came to that city for the same purpose as my family, yet all have different desires, passions, reasons for living, and quirks that make them into who they are.

Going to a place like New York opens your eyes to all the diverse people in this world. How amazing is it that God created each of us so intricately different from any other person on this earth? Although we come from different places, we all share this life on earth together, which is a pretty uniquely common thing. I say all this because, traveling shows the beauty that is always here but it doesn’t mean much if we never get to be apart of it. I think that’s why I’m so passionate about getting out of Louisville and into other places that have so much to offer.

I mean, even flying on the plane brought me so much peace to look over the vast greatness that is God’s earth. Every time I looked out the window as the plane got higher and higher and everything below me got smaller and smaller, I was blown away by all the hills, rivers, and greenery thousands of feet below me. I never really appreciate it when I’m driving past it or when I see it on a map, but once I saw it literally getting smaller right before my eyes, I was totally mesmerized by it all. I will forever remember that simple little moment.

Taking in moments like these are the ones that give so much meaning to life. Being aware of your surroundings and fully immersing yourself in them. I could have easily gone to NYC, done all of the things we set out to do, and left not having another thought about what happened on the trip. Take in those moments, take in the the surroundings and the beauty that each place has to offer. Opportunities come and go everyday, but how much more meaningful is it to stop and recognize the goodness that that moment could potentially bring into your life?

Don’t ever forget to take in all of life’s moments. Big or small, they are apart of  your distinctive journey.

The Comparison Game

We all know this game. The game where we are constantly thinking, “Man, my life isn’t as full as_________”. We never win this game, or even believe that the rules are fair, but we play it anyway. I’m finding myself constantly comparing what I have or who I am to the people around me. Why does this person have so many friends? Why can’t I be the life of the party? When will people accept me for who I truly am? The questions continue to roll out. One leads to another and another and another. What it comes down to is this: Why am I not enough?

Getting caught up in that question can lead to all kinds of insecurities. It’s like walking on eggshells whenever you’re around anyone. Constantly thinking, I’M NOT ENOUGH. I DON’T BELONG. I DON’T FIT IN WITH THIS GROUP. Wow, I’m tired just typing these words. My first instinct is that I HAVE to be the only one who has ever felt this way. Realistically, everyone has had these thoughts, but to LIVE in these thoughts is debilitating. I find myself in constant tension and anxiety when I think of these things.

This is about the time where most people throw the “God-card” into the post. God knows my pain, knows my sorrow. He can get me through anything. I wholeheartedly believe in the restoration Christ gives. He is truly the only one who saves in every aspect of life. But what do you do when you have constantly prayed, seeked, asked, sought after His greater plan, and still find yourself at ground zero. You have moments of peace, only to be brought back to this disorder of comparison.

In the Psalms, David constantly whined to God about all his problems, and then he would praise God for his unfailing love, then back to “woe is me”. In a way, I feel like David. God, I trust you. God, why is this happening to me again? God, you are good. God, I hate the way my life is right now. Whine, whine, whine.

God is still God, despite what I do, think, say, believe. But sometimes I don’t believe he can take away my perpetual issues that never seem to leave me. Life isn’t perfect, the day-to-day isn’t always peachy keen. It’s so important to ask God to take these things DAILY. We live life day to day, so why should I ask God to take something from me one day and not ask the next?

It’s hard feeling stuck in relationships. It’s hard when things change and you don’t know where your place is in someone’s life. It is then when we feel the need to compare what we have with what someone else has; what we’re doing isn’t working, so we have to look at the people around us who “have it together” and envy their oh-so-prosperous life.  We become vulnerable to the thought that we have to change our ways in order to really be accepted into someone’s life. It’s tough feeling like you are always on the outside looking in, but it’s also humbling to remember that God always has a plan. He knows so much more than I do. I always think of Psalm 30:5, “..Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” I’m trusting and believing that joy will come in the morning, because my God says so.

So if everyone always loses the comparison game, I think it’s safe to say we should all just stop playing.

A newfound desire

“Asking whether we love exam or not is like asking,”Do you want me to slap your face?””

“Dear school, and I’m starting to see. Maybe we’re not meant to be. Please accept that!”

“Dear teacher, please just act normally during the exam. Put yourself in our place, have you once been a student?”

“Less paper means Saving the trees .. Less homework means Saving us !!!”

“school is just about 6 things: Evil teachers, detentions, homeworks, recess, exercise, and not to be missed, Examination ..”

Above are a few tweets I found googling, “how students feel about school/learning”.

Recently I’ve been so inspired to learn and continue learning. Most of my life, I did a mediocre job in school. I was always right in the middle, maybe even more towards the bottom of the learning totem pole. It took me forever to grasp a particular subject and I absolutely HATED being called on in class, because I hardly ever felt confident in knowing the answer. I never tested well and I wasn’t very outgoing in meeting new people. Needless to say, school was not exciting for me. Most of my school career I was a B student with a few As and maybe 1 C. My parent’s philosophy was that if I tried my hardest, they were proud of me. I always felt like I had to overcompensate in school by putting more pressure on myself to get good grades than my parents ever did. My mom always told me I was like a parent to myself. Once I got to high school, it only got worse. I felt even more pressure, since my friends and I would talk about our grades. I usually had the lower grade on most tests or assignments.

So why the heck am I studying to be a teacher if learning never came easy for me? People who want to be teachers are supposed to be smart their whole life and then they get a little bit of training on how to teach others, right? I’ve asked myself these questions, as well as many others, so many dang times. Here’s my answer: by the grace of God, he has given me a whole new passion to learn. He has given me the desire, one of which was never there in the past. I no longer feel the pressure of what everyone else is doing because I have my own knowledge to bring to the table. I’ve been on the other side of not wanting to learn and now I see how amazing it is to soak in knowledge. Gosh, I’m so thankful for that. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’m stupid or think that I don’t know the core content to teach, because believe me, I do. I definitely have enough knowledge to teach elementary students, but I’m so thankful that I’ve been on the other side. I know how that mediocre student might feel when they are lost in the midst of other students who are doing really well and those that aren’t. The attention is always on the extremes and the students in the middle get lost in the shuffle. I believe that there is a power in knowledge and every person should have the opportunity to take part in it.

Something amazing I’ve been thinking about is that everyday we are just a little bit smarter than the day before. The experiences we have strongly influence what we know and what we believe to be true  in our own lives. Regardless of how you feel about learning, we are constantly doing it. I think that is so incredibly powerful. What a gift God has given us. Each of us has the capacity to learn something so in depth that only we have for ourselves. Not one person can access all the knowledge I’ve gained in my 20 years of living and neither can I for someone else. Each of us has that ability to learn from the things directly in front of us. Whether it be calculus or how to deal with the loss of a family member. We have these experiences and learn from each of them. I really love that!

In education the term, “life-long learners” is always thrown around. We all know that not everyone in the classroom is going to grow up to be a physicist, but in some school curriculum physics is required. Not all students are going to enjoy doing that, but the Common Core Standards require teachers to teach these subjects as a part of general knowledge. As much as I want my elementary students to leave  my classroom with everything I’ve taught them, more importantly I want them to leave with confidence that they can tackle any situation put in front of them regardless of if it is related to school or in their lives.

I want my students to leave my classroom with a desire to continue learning. I want my students to be inspired to open their hearts and minds to many different people. I want my students to collaborate and learn from every individual they come in contact with. I want my students to always be willing to do something a little differently because of a different perspective that was given. These are all qualities I’ve come to appreciate in life, and especially since I want to be a teacher.

Here’s my point in this big, long post: don’t dread learning like the students did at the beginning of this post. Look at it as a way of continuing to grow. How much more empowered do you feel when you actually know something and know it really well? Approach every situation with the attitude that you want to know it well, and you may find yourself actually enjoying the process of learning.