Tuesday, May 6, 2014

you are lovely | victoria

it is time for another installment in the you are lovely series.
i know i am constantly saying how i am impressed and humbled in each round of this mini-series....but truthfully i am.
i did not expect the turn out to be so solid; for each woman that has participated to really dig deep and not only share their insecurities, but fight them off with truth.
this has become such a beautiful thing, and something i am always looking forward to.
today you get to meet victoria.
i love her.
her heart, life, and blog is so beautifully centered and grounded in Christ that i am always inspired.
you know how there are some women that you meet and you find yourself thinking , "there is just something about her..." - that is victoria; and that something is the presence of God.

you are lovely | seventh installment

You are lovely.
Three simple words that so many of us have a hard time believing.
The culture we live in sets standards for loveliness that are unreal and untrue. This culture was born out of the LUST that resides in each one of us.
We all know the standards...We see them in the mall, on boxes of food, in stores dedicated to "beauty", and pretty much everywhere we look.
Thinner, taller, blonder (or brunetter, depending on the year), fitter, smarter, younger....
Loveliness is tied to what we look like, what we have accomplished, and what we are capable of.
In small corners of our lives, we have the voices of those attempting to speak for God in an effort to assure us that we ARE lovely and that we DO NOT need to try harder to be what the culture says we should be. Sometimes we listen with our head held high and our shoulders back. Sometimes we roll our eyes and sigh.
The truth is....We don't really know what loveliness is.
God created lovely things. Guess who sought unloveliness? A lady named Eve and her husband Adam...They did the one thing God told them not to do. Their eyes were opened and they tried to cover up their sin by covering their bodies and hiding in the trees.
In a recent article  on Desiring God, we can see that all of the things we use to feel and look lovely are actually part of the CURSE that has been on us and the earth we live on since the day those two disobeyed God.
God did not turn His back on them even after they destroyed the loveliness He gave them.
God being just gave them the consequences He had promised. God being merciful covered them properly and taught them how to live with the curses that would now make their lives completely different.
Fast forward to today.
Whatever we look like, cover up with, or hide behind, on our own we are the epitome of unloveliness.
Our struggle with loveliness is a GOOD thing! When we see how deep and real and devastating our unloveliness is, there is opportunity to examine what loveliness is. From there, we can go on to BATTLE against the things that tempt us.
Loveliness is:
knowing God
loving others as He has loved us
forgiving others as He has forgiven us
hoping in God
setting aside sin
clinging to Jesus
following Jesus's example of complete dependence on God
We live on this earth. We feel the sting of our unloveliness, namely sin, every single day. We can use our bodies as tools to HIDE our unloveliness or as means to CONFESS our unloveliness and the loveliness God is working in us.
Let's encourage one another to see who we really are. Let's encourage one another to press into God and to make His standard of loveliness our own.

His standard is one that says "Though your heart be wicked, I shall be your God and you shall be my people." When He is our God, when we are His people, our eyes look and they SEE and our ears listen and they HEAR.
God is working in us that His people might be the most lovely in order that by them people would see Him - Romans 8:28-29 says this,
"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,for those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers."
Loveliness is this: being conformed to the image of His Son.

Humans CRAVE loveliness. Unless we look to God, we will only find poor substitutes that cause us to face despair again and again.

Let us be lovely. Let us point each other to the One who is most lovely. May our relationship with God create in us a loveliness that is genuine and may that loveliness drive those around us to the source of it, namely, God Himself.

Amy sent along some questions. I'll answer a few of them and maybe they'll help with the practical side of our BATTLE against unloveliness.

What makes you feel lovely?

I feel most lovely when I am clean, clothed, and put together. At times, all I want to do is hide behind LOOKING put together.

Why is it hard for us to embrace vulnerability?

It is hard for me to embrace vulnerability because being vulnerable is like declaring my helplessness. Being vulnerable is uncovering who I really am. That person is not all that beautiful.

Were the self-portraits hard to take?

They were so hard! I guess I've never really done a project quite like this before. It felt strange and trying to get everything all set was the most frustrating.

Share a time when you felt exquisite/Share a time when you felt vulnerable or exposed:
I am sure I'm not alone when I say I feel my best when my clothes are put together, my hair is fixed, and my skin is taken care of.....I don't care if I'm in a group of friends, at the grocery store, or running errands, I just like to look nice. In the pictures I took for this post, you can tell a difference. I was on my way to a birthday party in one and had been getting some housework done before the others. The truth is, even though I do look different, NOTHING about who I am changed.

I've noticed that whatever I look like, I feel best when I focus on the friends or work that are in front of me. I have seen pictures of myself having a good time and thought, "I looked like that?!?!?". There are other times when I feel exposed because of how I look and it never fails, someone will earnestly say, "Oh! I love your _____" (outfit, hair, w/e) and I just chuckle to myself and thank them!


feel free to look through the other you are lovely series posts here.

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Rach @ This Italian Family said...

"The truth is, even though I do look different, NOTHING about who I am changed."

This is my favorite quote from this whole post! She hit the nail on the head with it here.

amydhodge said...

Beautiful writing! I look forward to this series every time! Thanks for sharing!

Jennifer Prod said...

everything about this installment and post is, well, lovely! what an encouraging way to take discussions about beauty and 'what is lovely' and direct them toward God. "Humans CRAVE loveliness -Unless we look to God, we will only find poor substitutes that cause us to face despair again and again" - such a good reminder. And Victoria? You definitely have that 'something about her glow' that amy talks about :)

Kiki said...

I love Victoria and she most definitely speaks truth and so much love, too. And honestly, I have you to thank for introducing the two of us. :)

Victoria said...

Amy - thank you for your sweet introduction!!! :) You made me blush.

Rach, Amy (Hodge), Jennifer, and Kiki - thank you for reading and commenting! God is doing a work in our hearts to help us see Him for who He is. Let's keep looking and showing Him off to one another! His beauty is meant to overflow for all the world to see. :)

Jess said...

I've really enjoyed this series, Amy. And this post by Victoria definitely did not disappoint! She really encouraged me with her words and what loveliness is and how we can truly have it. Definitely a convicting AND encouraging post in this series.