Thursday, November 21, 2013

Measuring Sticks & Burning Bushes

Student 1: "Would you rather marry a handsome dumb man or an ugly intelligent man?"
Student 2 (and followed by the rest): "I'd rather marry an ugly and intelligent man, because since he's smart he can get a good job and have plastic surgery to make himself handsome."

This conversation happened a few days ago, and while it may initially pull out a laugh or two at its seemingly absurdness, it only added to the burden I have already been hauling for this class of four preteen girls. Such questions and answers do not only mirror their thoughts toward others, but the way they view themselves. 

I live in a culture where it is not uncommon for parents to provide their children with plastic surgeries as graduation gifts and where before-and-after billboards plaster the walls of subway stations displaying the endless possibilities for "improvement." One could hardly blame these helpless hearts for the lies they believe. 

I'm fat. I'm ugly. I'm dumb. I'm not good enough.

Thoughts like these and others can encourage drastic and destructive measures..

I need to lose weight.  I need to change my looks. I need to be the smartest.  I need to be something; anything more than I am now.

My mom recently shared a devotional with me from Anne Voskamp's blog, A Holy Experience. The post was her reflections of the harm caused by comparison:

“The world isn’t a forest of measuring sticks. The world is a forest of burning bushes. Everything isn’t a marker to make you feel behind or ahead; everything is a flame to make you see GOD is here. That God is working through this person’s life, that God is redeeming that person’s life, that God is igniting this work, that God is present here in this mess, that God is using even this.” (Anne Voskamp)

This is the message I long to instill in the lives of my precious students. It pains me seeing the insecurities that seep through mouths and actions of these amazing girls I have come to love so dearly; it pains me because many of those insecurities are battles I have fought and continue to fight deep down. I know the war is real. I know the wounds can cut deep. As I riot at the door of their spirits, seeking to engrave in their hearts messages of love and hope and worth, I often hear my words as if they were not words leaving my own mouth.

Do you really believe what you're saying to them right now? Of course! Then allow these truths to be engraved on your heart too, dear one.

I am not here to be known for who I am.
I am here to make Him known for who He is.
Oh, the security of being in His arms!

In a world of measuring sticks, I so long to be a burning bush ~