Apr 2, 2014

What makes you beautiful?

Today's Reading: Matthew 22:15-46
Find the Reading Plan here.

Speaking of "not conforming to the world", I have a post that will knock your sweet socks off. 

This precious one is a young college girl who absolutely blows me away with her love for the Lord. It is my privilege and honor for her to post today. I cannot think of a woman that cannot relate to her story in one way or another. It sure hit home in my beating heart.

Be blessed by Taylor's story.

Brasilian Beauty
By: Taylor Shultz

Sweet & Beautiful Taylor

This is exciting.

I am in Brasil right now, on a five-month mission trip. While I’m here, I’m trying to
blog about my experiences and adventures. I asked dear Mrs. Jill for help with my 
blog (blueeyesrestlessheart.blogspot.com) almost two weeks ago. I wanted to 
make it pretty and not such a sore to the eye. While she agreed to help, she also 
told me if I wanted to ever write something for Shine Girls, then type away!

So exciting! 

I began thinking about what I could write about. I’m the type of blogger who has 
to think through every option and word before I sit down to type it out. I like to 
do a rough draft while I’m showering (that’s usually where my best “one-liners” 
are created) or walking to the train stop. On the rare occasion, I can sit down and 
have words flow from my fingers. However, for the most part, I have to think 
things through. 

I’m a thinker. My mind rarely shuts off. 

I thought about telling funny stories, leading into how God worked through my 
embarrassment. I thought about telling you how I’m learning new things and how 
it’s caused me to seek and see God in a new way. I thought about telling you how 
awesome God is in creating a team with qualities that balance each other out 
perfectly.

Nope. I’m about to talk to you about beauty. 

Let me just say that I didn’t want to talk about this. I really, really, really didn’t 
want to talk about this. The last time I wrote for Shine Girls, in June of 2013, I 
wrote about beauty. There are other things that I would much rather talk about. I 
didn’t want you to think that I only care about beauty; that’s not the case at all. I 
wrestled with God over this. Put off sitting down to write this because I was 
hoping God would put something else on my heart, in my mind to write about.

Nope.

So here I am, at my kitchen table, at midnight, writing about beauty while my 
clothes wash and my Brasilian family sleeps.

And what better place to write about this topic? Shine Girls has an audience 
primarily made up of girls. That’s a good thing. Men just don’t get this. 
Before I came to Brasil, I considered myself a fairly confident woman. Sure, I was 
around beautiful people, saw them in the movies, saw them on Pinterest. It didn’t 
really bother me. I was Taylor Shultz, and I was the way I was. No changing that.
Of course sometimes I would look at someone and feel a twinge of envy, but the
feeling left just as quickly as it came. I saw beauty and appreciated it for what it
was. 

But ladies, since I’ve been in Brasil, I’ve struggled. It bothers me so much to say 
I’m struggling with this kind of thing. I don’t want to struggle with this. However, 
I am. I am the odd ball out here in southern Brasil, so the differences I see are 
highlighted.

There are beautiful people everywhere here! My Brasilian mom is a physical 
trainer who looks so good. I walk through the city along side women who are 
dressed to the nine, without a hair out of place. I see women on campus who come 
from a day at work to a night of classes, and they look fresh faced and cheery. 
I feel frumpy, sticky and bla. 

I try to laugh about it. The two other girls on my team, Hannah and Hannah, and I 
usually make jokes about the way we look compared to the Brasilian women. But 
sometimes the envy, hurt and sadness sneak in past our guard. When it happens, 
we know it. We three lapse into silence, waiting for something different to grasp 
our attention.

I didn’t realize this was such a struggle for me until I noticed one day that I was 
wishing to be beautiful. Just random prayers throughout the day, “God, I want to 
be beautiful. … God, what can I do to be beautiful? … God, do I cause people to do a 
double take?” When I realized what I was doing, so many emotions washed over 
me, shame, guilt, laughter, shock. 

I started thinking (imagine that) through this new and pressing desire I have to 
be beautiful. A couple days into this thought process, my mind stumbled across 
the story of David. While I was in Lima and my first couple weeks in Brasil, I was 
reading through King David’s story.

Unlike any time before, when I was reading it things just stood out to me. They made me smile, they made me mad, they made me want to cry. 

I thought about when David was anointed king. Saul, the current, beautiful king, 
had made a mess of things, and the Lord had to reject him. Samuel was mourning 
over this fact, but the Lord was ready for things to move along. He commanded 
Samuel to go to Jesse and anoint one of his sons to be the future king. Samuel saw 
the first son and thought surely this is who the Lord has called. 

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature … 
For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, 
but the Lord looks on the heart.” (I Samuel 16: 7) 

The story goes on with Samuel looking through seven of Jesse’s sons, not finding the future king. The last son Samuel sees is David *goose bumps*, the future king of Israel. David, the man after God’s own heart.

Woah. 

Even long after David’s story ends, he is still remembered. Not by the good looks he had when he was young and a great warrior. 

He’s remembered by his heart.

So many times the Lord recalls on David, speaking about his heart and his 
steadfastness to follow Him.

Here I am in Brasil wishing to be beautiful when I should be focusing on all the things I’ve learned, am learning, will learn. Maybe my face, my body, isn’t beautiful. That’s okay. I want my heart to be beautiful. 

When I leave this place in little over three months, the people might forget my 
face. But oh how I pray they won’t forget my heart. I pray they won’t forget my 
heart because when they think about it, they think about Jesus. I pray that while I 
am here, they are able to look past my appearance and see my heart, see who it 
belongs to. 

Praying this automatically puts a load of responsibility on my shoulders. I can’t 
just pray that the people I come in contact with see my heart, then stop there. I 
have to have a heart worth seeing and remembering. I have to seek the Lord, and 
work through the reshaping and conquering of the fleshly desires of my heart. I have to show progress, show struggle, show excitement, show pain when I put my heart on display. The realness I’m called to have is an example of the realness of a relationship with my Savior. 

What better way to show beauty than through my weaknesses, shifting the focus to my Lord? 

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still want to be physically beautiful. What woman 
would not want to be beautiful? However, I’m trying to chance my mindset. What is beauty? 
Whose standards define beauty? Who am I comparing myself to when I 
try to measure my beauty?

So ladies, as I finish my third homemade truffle at two in the morning, I feel a bit 
relieved. I’ve virtually talked through this struggle with women I look up to and 
love. I’ve considered the Word of the Lord. I’ve looked past the world’s view of 
beauty to see Truth. 

I’m so happy the Lord chose me to write down His message of beauty. I’m so 
grateful that I serve a God who doesn’t relent when I try to brush Him off. 

I pray He continues to reveal things to me I don’t necessarily want to see or hear. I 
pray that my heart mirrors His heart. Thank You, Lord, for loving my heart despite its fleshly tendencies. Thank You for a group of women I can humbly come to and share my struggles with. Thank You, Lord, for homemade truffles and clean clothes.

Working on a beautiful heart,

Taylor

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Proverbs 31:30