Forget About People.

For the past two years there has been a sure stillness in my social life. Due to circumstances and changes, a great distance (both physical and emotional) has been wedged between the lives of me and my closest friends. Moving 1,000 or so miles away from everything that I once identified with life + friendship meant that the random thrifting trips, late night Applebees runs for half price appetizers, and hang out nights would become less frequent extinct.  Before I moved I was at a place where I had a solid group of Christian friends who I could honestly call brothers and sisters. They were such a huge part of my world. I had so much love for them (and still do!). Over the past few years we had watched each other mature in Christ and as people. We were truly friends in the realest sense of the word. My biggest burden when moving in December of 2010 was the fear that I would not be able to find such a group of friends with relationships so pure, godly, and real, again. But I reminded myself that God knew my needs and He could and would satisfy them. He would give me friends again.

But guess what… it didn’t happen. It just didn’t! I didn’t find the friendships that I was so desperately longing for. Some things that didn’t help were that I wasn’t in college like most other people my age and despite the fact that God had plugged me into an amazing church with an amazing youth outreach ministry, there were literally no young adults there. Yes, I was meeting different people in different places and making acquaintances, but those deep friendships that I longed for just weren’t happening. What I believed to be my greatest earthly need – relationship – was left unfulfilled. For two whole years.

It was hard. So hard. Feelings of loneliness crept in and often times felt unavoidable. But, I can honestly look back over the past two years and say that it was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.

God knew exactly what He was doing in withholding from me the one thing that I believed I needed most.

Over these past two years God has worked in me in such tremendous ways and taught me so much of who I am. Who I truly am… apart from people.

I look back at all that I once was and see just how much of everything I did was simply a cry to be acknowledged and appreciated. Every one of my actions and words were so carefully thought out and elaborately planned so as to satisfy the needs of others… simply so that they would like me and satisfy my greatest need – to be accepted and loved.

Because that’s what it all comes down to: the very human and innate desire to be safe and secure in someone or  something.

We are an unsatisfied and unfulfilled people. So much of what we do – whether intentionally or unintentionally – is simply a cry for someone to notice us. We are more needy than we think… at least I am.

We are longing for something more.

But we have it all wrong. We somehow think that having more people around us will satisfy us – whether in real life – or on Facebook. We seek validation from others by becoming like others. It is a viscous cycle that will never be able to do the one thing for which it was intended: satisfy.

These last two years have taught me the importance of focusing on ourselves. The idea of focusing on ourselves can easily become a forgotten concept in a Christian world where so much of what we are called to do involves other people. But a failure to nurture ourselves and our innermost being is a failure to recognize that the very essence of our Christianity is us and Christ. We need to know who we are. Who we truly are. We need to learn of all that God intended for us to be when He created us. God is eager and willing to teach us. But our hearts can only respond to these lessons when we are finally at the place where we are no longer crying out for the approval of people.

You see, before we can ever truly love people and remember them – we must forget them. We must be rid of every part of ourselves that seeks validation from people. We must become apart from them before we can ever truly be with them.

We must spend time alone with God. We must find out who He created us to be. We must learn Him. We must learn ourselves. We must become secure… whole… complete. We must get to the place where the very core of our existence is based upon truths revealed to us by God, in prayer.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to ditch your friends. I love people. I love relationship. It is special, it is sweet, it is important. God created it to be that way. I am so incredibly thankful for the handful of precious new friendships that God has brought into my life and allowed to blossom in the past few months. Having genuine, like-minded, Christlike friends is something with which few other things can compare. But I am also overwhelmingly thankful for that still and often lonely period, which was the past two years, because of all that God taught me in that quiet place.

My friends, do not despise the quiet place.

Our hearts long to be hidden. Praise God that we have a Father who whispers into our innermost being, “Hide yourself in Me.”

To Be Beautiful.

Over the past few months, more specifically over the past two or three weeks, I have been on a journey of self discovery. It is changing everything. I am learning who I truly am. I am seeing insecurities fade away (slowly, mind you) as I come to grips with + learn to love me just as I was created to be.

During this time one of the things that I have really been drawn to study + investigate is what it means to be truly beautiful. This morning, again seeking to discover the true essence of beauty, I looked up the word “beauty” in the concordance in the back of my bible. Would you believe that none of the verses listed under the word had anything to do with physical appearance? Really. (1 Chronicles 16:29, Psalm 27:4, 39:11, 45:11, 49:14, 90:17, 110:3) Check em out!

After reading + meditating on these verses I wrote a little something in my journal:

“Lord, whenever Your Word talks of Your beauty it describes something all-powerful, all-consuming, and everlasting. But when it talks of our beauty it describes something vain and fleeting. Yes, human beauty is wonderful and to be appreciated but it is NOT to be confused with the beauty [true beauty] that comes from You alone!”

With this new take on beauty I decided to go further and look up the word “beauty” in a dictionary. The definition I found amazed me:

[Beauty]
1.) Qualities that are pleasing to the senses or that satisfy the mind or spirit.
2.) Someone or something having such qualities.

Wow. We, as a people, have so limited the meaning of beauty to only incorporate one sense: sight. But as God’s word and even Webster’s dictionary reveals, true beauty encompasses so, SO much more. We are not just a “seeing” people. We have five senses. True beauty will ignite + awaken each and every one.

So I sat and I talked with God. I studied His Word and I decided for me what it means to be beautiful. In every sense of the word.

1.) Sight
“Those who fear You will be glad when they see me, because I have hoped in Your word.” Psalm 119:74

I pray that when people see me they would be encouraged… because they see Christ. True beauty is being able to walk with a countenance that reveals the joy and hope that abides in my heart through Jesus.

2.) Smell
“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.
2 Corinthians 2:14-15

I pray that I would be the fragrance of Christ! True beauty is being able to walk into a room and have the fragrance of the knowledge of God follow me.

3.) Taste
“Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart…”
Jeremiah 15:16

I pray that God would speak through me and use me to satisfy the hunger of His people! True beauty is being able to speak and have every word bring glory to God and life to the hearer.

4.) Hearing
“My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear of it and be glad.”
Psalm 34:2

I pray that people would hear my testimony of God’s faithfulness + goodness and receive hope. True beauty is having a soul that sings a new song into the ears of God’s people.

5.) Touch
“When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. For she said, ‘If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.’ Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction.”
Mark 5:27-29

In His word Jesus says, “…the works that I do you will do also; and greater works than these you will do…” Wow. Can you imagine people being comforted + healed, spirits being lifted + renewed, at your touch?! I get goosebumps just thinking about it. True beauty is being able to hold a hand, give a hug, or lay on hands and pray for another… and impart LIFE.

This is beauty.

All-encompassing.

True.

The only kind worthy of my pursuit.