Friday, March 4, 2011

It's All About You, Baby!

by Susanne Dietze

Today, it’s all about you. (How often do you hear that?)

And it's about me, too. Not too long ago, I wrote a piece about praising God, getting our attention off of ourselves and onto our Creator. But today I’m tilting the looking glass back on ourselves.

Mirror fretwork english looking-glassImage via Wikipedia
Has your doctor ever told you to periodically look in the mirror? Not the way we do when we put in contact lenses or apply makeup, but to examine our bodies. Check for lumps and dimples. I hate doing this, because I don’t want to see lumps and dimples, of course. But when I look, I also see unattractive things: stretch marks and scars and a crooked nose. Granted, I earned those stretch marks, and the scars serve as testimony to God’s faithfulness to heal me. And the broken spots, like my nose, are things I was born with. Part of being me.

I don’t always have the same mixture of dismay and victory when I gaze at my reflection in the spiritual mirror. Looking reveals the same sorts of imperfections that I see in the physical mirror: stretches, scars, and brokenness. While my head knows that many of those stretches reveal change and the scars are proof of God’s hand in my life, I still see a woman who wonders if some of my wounds will ever be healed, who feels she doesn’t deserve God’s salvation, who questions His love.

Do you ever hear this voice? No matter how long you’ve put your trust in God? You are a failure. You talk the talk but don't walk the walk. You are a slave to sin. Defined by a deed that will never go away. Ugly, unlovable, out of step, and forgettable.

I won’t presume to know what’s come between you and God, what’s broken your heart or left you in pieces. But I can tell you as a fellow struggler that God does not speak words of loathing to us. He doesn’t define us by our acts, our looks, our weaknesses. He defines us by His love.

HeartImage via Wikipedia
This is not about what you’ve done, but what’s been done for you
This is not about where you’ve been, but where your brokenness brings you to
This is not about what you feel, but He felt to forgive you
And what He felt to make you new.
You are more than the choices you have made
You are more the sum of your past mistakes
You are more than the problems you create
You’ve been remade*

I love that song, "You Are More" from Tenth Avenue North. It cuts to the heart of how I view myself, reminding me how God views me.

So on those days when you and I may wonder how anyone, much less God, can love us or forgive us, here’s a tiny list of reminders to set us back on the right path. Straight from God’s heart to you and to me.

You are:
  1. Precious (Isaiah 34:4)
  2. Of great value (Luke 12:7)
  3. Made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27); fearfully and wonderfully (Ps 139:13-16); God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10); the work of God’s hands (Psalms 38:8); formed in the womb and known before birth (Jeremiah 1:5)
  4. Loved (John 3:16, Psalm 103:10-12, Isaiah 34:4, Song of Solomon 2:4, Lamentations 3:22-24, Hosea 14:4, Romans 5:8, Romans 8:38-39, 1 John 3:1)
  5. Chosen (1 Peter 2:9), even before the creation of the world (Ephesians 1:4-5)
  6. Part of a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a people belonging to God (1 Peter 2:9, Colossians 3:12)
  7. The apple of His eye (Psalm 17:6-8, Zechariah 2:8b)
  8. Never alone (Psalm 34:18, Isaiah 43:1-2, Hebrews 13:5)
  9. A child of God (1 John 3:1, Galatians 3:26), adopted through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:4-5)
  10. Forgiven (Psalm 103:10-12, Romans 8:1, Ephesians 4:32, 1 John 1:9)
  11. Redeemed (Psalm 34:22, Isaiah 43:1-2, Colossians 1:14)
  12. A co-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17)
  13. A new Creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  14. A branch on the Vine of Christ (John 15:5)
  15. A temple of the Holy Spirit, where God dwells (1 Corinthians 3:16)
  16. Rejoiced over (Zephaniah 3:17)
  17. In God’s flock (Psalm 95:6-7, 1 Peter 5:2)
  18. Supported and consoled in distress (Psalm 17:6-8, Psalm 34:18, Psalm 94:18-19, Romans 8:26-27)
  19. An important member in the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27)
  20. A son of the light and of the day (1 Thessalonians 5:5)
  21. A Friend of Christ (John 15:14-15)
  22. The Bride of Christ, as part of the Church (Isaiah 54:5, Isaiah 62:3-5, Hosea 2:19-20, John 3:28-30, 2 Corinthians 11:2, Revelation 19:7)
  23. Inscribed on the palm of God's hand (Isaiah 49:16)
After the Question of the Day, you'll find the video to "You are More" by Tenth Avenue North. Watching it, I was blessed in a powerful way and I spent time considering what I'd write on the chalkboard and then how I'd feel as I witnessed -- well, I won't spoil the video. But if you take a minute to watch the video, I pray that you'll be blessed, and the next time you look in the mirror, you see what God sees: His forgiven, redeemed, cleansed, loved, precious, and gorgeous child.

Question of the Day:

Everyone has something they'd change about their appearance. But what's your favorite thing about how you look?

* "You Are More" by Mike Donehey and Jason Ingram, 2010, Sony/ATV Timber Publishing/West Main Music/Formerly Music/Windsor Hill Music

Susanne Dietze has written love stories set in the nineteenth century since she was in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she writes in the hope that her historical romances will encourage and entertain others to the glory of God. Married to a pastor and the mom of two school-age kids, Susanne loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, travel, and spending time with family and friends. Her work has finaled in the 2010 Genesis Contest, the 2009 Gotcha! Contest, and the Touched By Love Contest, 2008 and 2009. You can visit her on her personal blog, Tea and a Good Book,
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  1. Great post Susie! I have to do my morning writing and if I watch that video now... I know it will fill my head for the day!

    Choosing something to like rather than change? tough one...
    I've decided to make a point of liking my hair. When I get compliments on it I usually smile and try not to grit my teeth and yet I always complain about it. But it seems my granddaughter now has hair like mine and I have made it my goal to not pass on my negativity.

    And it's a bit unique, which I've come to appreciate.

    Long live the frizzy curl! (and maybe hers will change for the better when she's older)

  2. As a teenager, I faced all the usual angst and doubts. I discovered Psalm 139. It spoke to my soul in a way no other passage could at the time. I am "fearfully and wonderfully made." It took a long time for those verses to sink in, but I believe them.

    I like my hair. It generally does what I want it to do. I like my eyes. I like my smile.

    Thank you for reminding us how much God loves us!

  3. Susanne--Thanks for the wonderful reminded of who we are in Christ. It's so great, in a world that seems to only value physical features, that we are so much more to Him!

    My favorite thing about how I look is tough for me--probably my eyes. Or maybe my nails. I hear so many people complaining about their fingernails, yet mine grow long and strong despite all the hours I log on the computer each day.

  4. Love that song too Susanne. I've been reading the Sarah Young Jesus Calling devotional. It's a great daily reminder of how God sees you.

  5. Good morning! The sun is just now coming up where I live and I feel a bit wobbly still. Ah, wait, the coffee's done... Be back in a minute...

    Better now.

    Great point Deb, about what we teach kids by our attitudes and actions. The last thing I want to do is pass on a poor self-image to my kids. You're wise to keep your granddaughter's self-image in mind!

    Ah, I've come to appreciate the challenges of naturally curly hair with my daughter. As you can see from my pic, my hair is straight. My daughter's hair is ringlet-curly with the frizz that accompanies it.

    I had no clue how to help her with it because it's so different than mine. We've experimented with products and have finally found something that works. I'm so envious -- I love curly hair!

  6. Hi Christine! Great seeing you today.

    If your hair does what you want it to do, you're a lucky woman indeed. Not a lot of gals can say that! I like what you said about your eyes and smile. A warm, welcoming smile is an instant blessing to others -- what a gift.

    Isn't Ps 139 beautiful? And so powerful, to believe that God made and knows each of us with tender love.

    Have a good day, Christine.

  7. Hi Barbara! Wow, you're right, women complain about their nails so much. Do you do much to keep them fancified? I ask because mine are, well, er, in need of a file. I can always use tips on nail care. (um, no pun intended. Maybe I need more coffee already.)

    I remember reading that men claim the first thing they're attracted to in a woman is their eyes. We spend all this time and money on other parts and it ends up that it's our eyes that communicate our beauty!

    Thanks for popping by, Barbara!

  8. I'm not familiar with that devo, Dina, but I'm going to have to look for it. Sounds wonderful.

    Tenth Avenue North consistently blesses me with their music. Sometimes I pop in my ear buds and pray through some of their lyrics. I was blessed to see them in concert about 2 years ago, and would love to see them again. This video was powerful to me and I hope that someone is blessed by watching it today.

  9. Susie, Susie. Incredible post. I'm also a fan of Tenth Avenue North and love this song. I'm listening to it while I write this.

    I think my best physical trait is my hair, and I'm jealous Barbara that you have great nails. I'm a nailbiter, so is the heroine in my first book.:)

    I love the words, "You are more than. . .
    Thanks Susie!

  10. Jill, you do have awesome hair!

    I'm glad you like Tenth Avenue North, too! It's hard to pick a favorite song of theirs...

    Thanks for taking time away from your edits to stop by. I hope they're going ok! The end result will be worth it -- I can't wait to hold your book in my hands!

  11. I love seeing Christine here again!
    Apparently we didn't scare you off last time.

    BARB!!! that's me shouting. I will have to check out your nails. One of my good friends has strong nails like that. She can use them like tools. Mine are paper thin and they stay very short on purpose.

    Jill, you do have gorgeous hair. I'm glad you like it and I'm glad Susie is reminding us to be appreciative of the good stuff when it's so easy to focus on what we'd change. That can be a big list but... it ain't gonna happen, is it? (well, maybe in Hollywood or Miami)

  12. Deb, lately I've been focused too much on what I'd like to change about myself! Gotta focus on the positives...

  13. Oh Susie, this is beautiful. And so true. There are so many things here to ponder and pray about. I love the list you made. Years ago my very dear friend, Diane, made a list for me. All of the good things about me. It was so helpful and wonderful and blessed me so much. I still have it. I'm so glad God places such wonderful people in our lives to help us when we deal with such issues.

    I love Tenth Avenue North, too, but I've never heard this song. It's beutifule. Thanks for sharing it, and thanks for this great inspiring post. Hopefully you won't notice that I didn't answer your question. Sometimes I still struggle with those kinds of questions.

  14. Well, this hit me right in the gut. The soft-around-the-middle-stretch-marked-gut that keeps me from accepting and approving of my body no matter what I weigh.
    I don't know what it would take for me to come to terms with my middle... in the meantime, right now I'm rather fond of my arms. Wow. How thin I would "feel" (as if that had anything to do with anything) if I focused on my slender parts!
    Thanks for this, Susie, awesome post.

  15. Suzie, you may have noticed that I never answered the big question, either! Sort of pathetic of me.

    So here I go: I'll have to say my eyes.

    Diane gave you a wonderful gift! What a treasure. I'm inspired to do the same for people in my life, starting with my kids.

    Thanks, Suzie.

  16. Niki, considering that my "baby bloop" has stayed with me through stomach flus and countless sit ups, I've decided that it will never, ever go away. But I earned that saggy middle and I wouldn't trade it.

    Sometimes I wish I could redistribute my fat, however.

    I like that you like your arms! I know some women who won't go sleeveless anymore. We all have our areas, don't we?

  17. Suzanne, this was so on target for me. Thank you.

    I needed the list...

    Trait? My goofy height. No way I can hide (unless I'm sitting down)!

  18. Susie, your post is such a comfort. Yes, both the video and the post blessed me. Thank you.

    Love the pic, too. :D

    Anita Mae.

  19. Hi Cheryl! Thanks for coming by. I needed the list too!

  20. Anita, I'm so glad you were blessed today. The video truly ministered to me. I made my whole family watch it!

    Thanks! Lisa makes us all look pretty good, doesn't she? :D


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