Monday, August 18, 2014

Look Good Naked?

I’d be a liar if I told you I hadn’t felt the pressure to want to look the best I’ve ever looked in my entire life on my wedding day.

The last seven and a half months have been wracked with some concern about losing weight, having even tan lines, whiter teeth, hairless arms, luscious hair (and gray-less hair), toned arms, and an abtastic stomach (for the first time in my entire life). Sometimes the goals actually feel realistic.

Because folks… I’m about to be naked. In front of the man I love. I can sometimes convince myself that the moment he sees me, he’ll go running to the court for an annulment. “I didn’t know you looked like that under all those clothes…”, he’d say.

I’ve been told it’s the LGN (“Look Good Naked”) regime that most brides follow. I get why it's a thing. Not only is this one of the biggest choices one can make on this earth, but I’m immediately jumping into the most intimate, vulnerable, and physical expressions of love that exists. Of course I want to look good.

Months ago, I assured myself that as we got closer to the wedding I’d really start to be more strict about this whole LGN thing. I’d start eating better, exercising more, lifting weights, going tanning, and even brushing my hair…because, in addition to my future husband thinking I’m hot, there’s also this unsaid desire to knock the socks off the rest of the viewing world as well (only, not so much naked).

Think that I’m beautiful… my heart pleas.

As we’ve gotten closer to the wedding, I can’t seem to make myself want to do too much about my steady list of physical imperfections.  I eat….mostly whatever I want. I haven’t exercised much (still trying to catch up on exhaustion from a crazy-busy summer)…and I’m certainly not lifting weights. Tanning costs money and brushing my hair is just taxing. Gross.

And yet, before me is a man who, every day, tells me I’m beautiful. No matter how long the list of things about me that I want to fix gets, he finds something about me desirable. No matter how many times I push him away in disgust over his clearly delusional blindness, he pulls me in tighter…insisting on this truth.

You are beautiful.

Somewhere in me, I know he means and believes it. Somewhere in me, I know that his words extend past any physical sort of beauty that I might possess. Somewhere in me, I know that he sees something in me that I often fail to see in myself. Somewhere in me, I know that no matter how troll-ish I might fear I look like on the outside…his love for me is rooted in something deeper and more meaningful than flawless skin, a six pack of abs, a perfectly straight smile and constantly smooth legs (I ain’t ever gonna have those…).

Truthfully, I don’t know if I’ll ever “Look Good Naked”… at least, not the way that I’d want to look naked. But, I think it’ll be sufficient—even if I never get around to tanning, brushing, lifting, dieting (at least not the full extent of it).

Because I’m not marrying a man who chooses me based on that. If I were, he would have left long ago. And I hope my every confidence in being vulnerable and intimate comes from a deeper source of knowing that Someone (like, the Creator of the universe) has called me daughter. That He has called me precious and beautiful… that He has reminded me again and again how worth it I am to Him. It's, yet again, a reminder of the Gospel... and a reminder that I'm loved and chosen despite my imperfections. 

The physical beauty will fade.
I don’t need my heart’s pleas to be responded to.
I just need a little reminder of eternity and what actually matters in this world.

Shame on me if I ever let the things of this world, the temporary and fleeting things, begin to matter more than the Lord, what He has done for me, and who He has created me to be. Shame on me if I ever let them be the things that define me or speak worth into me.

I have every confidence that on my wedding night, I’ll look exactly the way that I am-I don’t have to hide, I don't have to try and be someone or something that I'm not...and I know that he will think that it is good.

That is enough for me.

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Friday, August 8, 2014

Cherish the Time

These days, there's a common thread that weaves its way in and out of conversations.


I know.
I know.
Holy cow.

In 50 days, I'll be making one of the biggest life-commitments there is. In the midst of all the other wedding stuff going on, I recognize that it can seem pretty insignificant. Just another wedding. But, as time draws closer and as the busyness of summer camp wanes... there it is. The reality of sharing everything in my life with another human being.

While I don't know the half of what that actually entails, I'm pretty excited. The last few months of no longer being long distance (and even working side-by-side) has allowed us ample opportunity to frustrate and annoy each other, and push to love each other through it all. And, at the end of every day, I'm still just thankful. Thankful that I had to wait for him. Thankful that the Lord spared me from all other relationships so that this time could come. Thankful that it can actually be this good. I had no idea that my seemingly unrealistic hopes could actually be exceeded.

People are excited for me.
Sometimes, I think, more than other people. I think it's because I'm 'old'. Everyone else getting married is 5-10 years younger than me (including my fiance). Sometimes I feel like a beacon of hope for many single women out there. If it can finally happen for Debbie... maybe it'll happen for me. And oftentimes, I feel like there's still a... but I hope it happens for me sooner than 30! 

I get that.
I hoped for that, too (over and over again).
But I'm so glad it didn't work out like that.
Even with all the lonely nights, the tears that were shed, the heartbreaks, the disappointments, the endless attempts to kill every longing in me that hoped for a lasting, God-glorifying relationship...

It was always better this way. I just didn't know it yet.
In fact, I feel like I was given something that a lot of people who get married younger don't always get. Something that I would have never chosen for myself, but something that I now cherish.

Time to figure out who I am and who I want to be.
Time to figure out what I want in life, what my passions are, what it looks like to follow my dreams.
Time to do the things I want to do, without having to worry about someone else(s) or financial stresses. Time to travel. Time to go to back to school and then leave school spontaneously.

I love that I've gotten to see and do great things. I love that I had a chance to become a better version of myself before I entered into this crazy, lifelong covenant. I love that I've had to learn, grow, push through the periods of wanting and not getting....seeking to choose Jesus through it all. I love that my identity is rooted in something beyond the man I'm marrying.

And not that getting married younger is bad or wrong or that you can't learn all this stuff while being married, I'm just thankful that it wasn't the plan the Lord had for me. I'm thankful for what I got to have during that time of singleness.

Cherish the time.
Cherish the moments.
Cherish the friendships you have because your single (because, you have them--whether you want to admit it or not).
Cherish who you are becoming.

Live boldly, freely, spontaneously, unexpectedly.
Seize opportunities.
Choose integrity and obedience, seek to become more like Jesus in all things, hold yourself to a higher standard.
Dream big, follow passions, dabble in the open door of possibilities.

Don't feel limited in your singleness.
Don't feel stuck.
Don't resent it.

It's good.
It's a blessing.
For this time, in this season... ask the Lord to show you how to embrace the fullness of it. And trust that He's got the rest under control. Trust that it truly will happen unexpectedly, but better than you could have dreamed. Trust that He is a good and faithful God.

I want that for you.
While you can't always see the big picture, I want you to walk into it faithfully. I want you to keep hoping. Keep dreaming. Keep laughing.

Because life is good.
And even if you're 25, 30, 45, 60, 73... single, waiting, hoping...
Cherish the time that you have.
Where you're at, as long as you're seeking to follow the Lord wholeheartedly, is exactly where you need to be- no matter your circumstances.

Find the joy.

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