Welcome to the first Wonderful Wednesday! Each week our WW will be in this format you see below — a graphic to share, a devotion, a Next Step, and a weekly giveaway. Let’s get to it!
(Click on ‘share image’ on the bottom right of the graphic above to share it online or you can pin it to Pinterest by clicking on the red ‘Pin it’ button in the upper left corner. You can do this with each graphic throughout the study!)
She begged and pleaded for months, as I tried to stand my ground against her persistent attempts to win me over.
My then 6th grade daughter wanted to participate in the local community beauty pageant, but I had some serious reservations about it, for a lot of reasons. But as kids can sometimes do, her begging eventually wore down my defenses and I gave in to her pleading. But on one condition.
The one condition: I was not going to go buy a big fancy pageant dress which would cost more than my wedding dress did.
She already had a beautiful silky blue dress, with lots of ruffles and sequins, that we had bought that same year to wear for another occasion and Kaitlyn agreed that dress would be perfect. Even though it was a tea length dress and not a formal gown, she loved the dress and was excited about being in the pageant.
The weeks flew by and with each passing day, Kaitlyn grew more and more excited. We had bought some cute, clear Cinderella-type little heels and some pretty earrings, all of which matched her dress perfectly. So when the day of the pageant finally arrived, we spent hours getting ready – curling her long blond silky hair into beautiful golden rolls that cascaded down her back, brushing on a light dusting of glittery blue eye shadow and pink blush and dabbing on some shiny lip gloss across her lips.
We arrived to the auditorium and as she hopped out of the car to run in and take her place, she turned around and waved, smiling ear to ear, full of joy and anticipation. You could see the confidence and excitement bubbling over in her big sparkly blue eyes.
My family and I parked the car, then walked inside and took a seat and waited for the pageant to begin. But then just before the time came to get started, I saw a little familiar face partially peering out from behind the huge heavy stage curtains, and my heart began to flutter. Something was up.
As soon as Kaitlyn spotted where we were sitting, she tip toed down all the stairs on the side of the stage, crouched all the way across the front of the auditorium, and tried to nonchalantly make her way to down the aisle where we were sitting.
I wondered what was wrong, but as she drew closer, I noticed a dramatic difference in her demeanor. Her eyes were still sparkling, but only because they were now full of crocodile tears threatening to spill out. The joy had left her face, and her little glossy bottom lip was quivering.
“Kaitlyn, what in the world is wrong? What could have possibly happened in the past 10 minutes to upset you so much?”, I whispered with great concern.
“Mommy, all the girls are wearing full length dresses. And I’m wearing this ugly tea length dress. I look stupid and I’m not pretty and I’m not going to win. I wish I hadn’t entered this pageant.”
A fiery dart shot through my mama heart. What kind of terrible, heartless mother doesn’t buy her daughter the dress she needs? But then, I remembered why I had objected to the pageant in the first place — because I didn’t want my daughter to put her self worth and confidence in the hands of people judging her for appearance and perfection alone. I didn’t want her to look around and try to measure up to all the other girls in the pageant, because I knew all too well the dangers lurking in that comparison trap. Yet that is exactly what she had done, and in those few moments before the pageant, she had decided she didn’t measure up at all. And she didn’t belong.
Unfortunately, we don’t stop doing that just because we’re all grown up. We are always comparing ourselves to other women, who we think are more successful or more attractive, better educated, thinner, richer; a better mom or wife, or sister, or friend. We compare ourselves to others who we feel have probably made less mistakes than we have made in our life times, and therefore, measure up and belong. We compare our biggest weaknessess to other’s biggest strengths, and that is a sure fire recipe to having the joy zapped from our hearts and the sparkle taken out of our eyes.
Psalm 139:14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. (NLT)
Regardless of translation, this is a verse that us girls need to memorize, so that each time we find ourselves looking around – falling into that comparison trap baited with low self esteem and lack of confidence – we can utter that sweet promise from God in Psalm 139 and remind ourselves how valuable we are to Him.
Let’s take a look at Psalm 139:13-16 from The Message Bible:
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.
Don’t you just love that? If we were to actually embrace these verses as absolute truths, would we be able to see a different reflection in the mirror each day? Would we able to better avoid the temptation to compare ourselves to others, or hold ourselves to unrealistic expectations and standards, and instead focus on the fact that we are each uniquely and beautifully and wonderfully made? In fact, breathtaking and marvelous?! I think so. Don’t you?
Now, I know it’s not easy. Especially when we see traits or attributes in other people that we genuinely wish we had. Especially when someone else has a talent or gift or blessing that we desperately want. Especially when we have circumstances that have happened in our past that make us feel unworthy or damaged, or when our mistakes are constantly swirling in our minds, reminding us how flawed we really are. Especially when we’ve spent years feeling “less than” and can’t imagine feeling anything differently.
But friend, these verses remind us that the God made us all different and unique for a purpose. That He created us, knitted us together, in a special way, in order to make us special. Special individuals. With unique fingerprints, appearances, talents and lives completely different from anyone else on the planet. Special, with different background and a myriad of experiences that He sees as training ground for purpose.
He skillfully wove together everything about us – our lives, our traits, our looks, our experiences. And nothing about His creations are anything less than beautiful and breaktaking.
As we embark on this first week of study, this is the promise I want you to let saturate deep into your heart. I’m guessing you’ve read Psalm 139:14 in the past – but let this be the day when you let it take root in your heart and help you form a new reflection in the mirror. Allow yourself to see what God sees. Starting today.
Despite the tearful, lack-of-confidence episode, Kaitlyn did go through with the pageant that year, after I had reassured her how beautiful she was inside and out and gave her so many tight hugs that I squeezed out a few smiles, but no, she didn’t win.
But you know what? It didn’t even matter, because she learned a valuable lesson about true beauty and that dangerous comparison trap, and has remembered that lesson for many years. My little girl, now a college Freshman and an amazing young adult, is beautiful to God no matter what she looks like, how she dresses, what she does or does not accomplish or how many times she messes up. And so are you.
There are a lot of promises that our Promise Keeper makes in the Bible – and the first step toward really embracing them as truths, is to first believe that we are precious and valuable to Him. No matter what. Simply because He said so.
On a piece of plain paper, or pretty decorative paper, write out a prayer of commitment to begin believing and embracing how valuable you are to God. Put into words what it means to you to acknowledge and embrace that you are a royal daughter of the Most High King. Express how it makes you feel to accept once and for all that you are His beloved. Include your commitment to believe how beautiful you are in His eyes, and to accept His promise of unconditional forgiveness and love.
In your own words, also acknowledge that He has a beautiful plan for your life. Then find a pretty frame around the house or purchase a new one (Dollar Store or Marshalls has some cute ones!), and place your sweet prayer of commitment inside. Place it somewhere in your home where it can serve as a constant reminder of your commitment to embrace your value in Christ and continually see yourself through His eyes instead of your own. (If you don’t want use a frame, post it on your fridge, vanity mirror, or anywhere visible in your home.)
** Excited about your commitment?! Share a photo of yourself on Facebook and/or Twitter with your framed commitment and tag me, so I can see your beautiful smiling face and respond to your post!**
WEDNESDAY GIVEAWAY !!
Two lucky ladies will win one of these two beautiful frames to put their prayer of commitment in and keep as a keepsake reminder of the day they acknowledged and embraced who they are in Christ.
To enter to win, leave a comment sharing one thing that might change in your life today if you allow yourself to believe you are beautiful, wonderful and valuable to Christ.
Monday’s winners notified via email were:
Printed Study Guides -Donna L. Forshee and Loretta Dettmer
Digital Study Guides – Eileen Houghtlin, Sharon C. and Micah