On Tuesday, our team returned from Uganda. I am feeling all the feelings. As in, I am processing and thinking through so many different experiences from this past week. It was, in a word, amazing. There is much to be shared, and I will do more of that in the coming days. Right now, I am mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted. But it was so worth it, and I will return one day. :)
Y'all know my dear friend, Gretchen. I have written about her in the past as a friend who loves the Lord and has encouraged me so much in my walk with Christ. She is a dear friend and one of my closest sisters in Christ. Recently, she created a beautiful journal called the Give Me Jesus journal that's purpose is to inspire women to dwell in the Word. As an avid journaler, I can tell you that this journal is beautiful and practical-unlike any other journal I've used before. I bought one for my mom for Mother's Day and will be purchasing another for myself soon. The Life Lived Beautifully community is currently studying through 1 Peter, and this morning, as I caught up, I was struck by the truth in this Scripture:
Do not let your adorning be external-the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear-but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.
- 1 Peter 3:3-4
The entire time I was in Uganda, I wore no makeup. My clothing was simple- a white men's t-shirt with a long skirt and Chacos or little tennis shoes. My hair was up in a bun. I felt gritty and gross at times but just didn't worry about it too much, knowing that there wasn't much I could do to change my appearance. In "real life," my concern about my physical appearance is much more extreme. I have to pick out my clothes each night before work because otherwise I'll spend forever in the morning contemplating what to wear. Clothes are something I love and always have loved. I have to take little fasts from shopping so that I exercise self-control and don't spend all my money on new shoes, shirts, and other deals found on clearance at Target. Or Loft. Or Gap.
|Meet my witty friend Stella, who took a week off of school to help prepare meals and take care of the home during our team's stay at Pastor George and Irene's house.|
As a twenty-something woman in the United States, my perspective on beauty is warped, to say the least. The images we encounter through television, movies, magazines, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook are all enough to drive a girl crazy. Whether we realize it or not, we all aspire to these images in some way; it is reflected in the way we shop, dress, and relate to other women. We all desire to be known as a woman of beauty. The beauty and fashion industries boast sales in the billions each year, because we are always looking for the latest and greatest way to improve our outer appearance.
But Peter states that we've got it wrong, backwards in fact. Our goal should not be to constantly seek outer beauty and the improvement of our physical being, but rather the eternal beauty which resides in our soul. Christ has gifted each and every one of us with talents and abilities to give Him glory. Yet our desire is far too often to look good in front of our fellow man.
In Uganda, I had the privilege of visiting several different village churches. At every single church, the people greeted us with smiles, handshakes, and bows. They were incredibly kind and genuine. These people live in huts and sleep on mats. There is no running water or electricity at their disposal, and they do not measure their lives by the amount of likes they get on Facebook or Instagram. Most likely, the women have never gotten a mani-pedi or waxed their eyebrows. They do not own dozens of pairs of shoes or the latest shade of lipstick. And yet they are beautiful.
|Women at Kiceke (key-check-ay) Community Church.|
These women are beautiful because their eyes shine with the love and joy of Christ. They love the Lord because He is their all. Their praise and worship is loud and lively because they know the One who saves. Their eyes shine and their hearts are bowed low. We could stand to learn from them. When I stood before these women and their congregations, I realized that just because I come from America doesn't mean that I have the wisdom and words to share. They were the ones who ministered to me and showed me what true beauty is. I pray I never forget. May we pattern our lives after the women who have found the true secret to beauty-Jesus Christ.