Monday, September 2, 2013

Don't Run From Who You Are

  1. The movie The Voyage of the Dawn Treader from The Chronicles of Narnia series focuses on temptation and fear, and being strong enough to not let either of them get the best you. Lucy, the youngest of the Penvensie siblings (and the one who first discovered the land of Narnia) is dealing with a weakness that is familiar to me, and it is capitalized on and exploited in our society. All poor Lucy wants to be is beautiful. And she doesn't want to be just any kind of beautiful, she wants to be beautiful like her sister, Susan. When she finds a Book of Incantations that will transform her into her sister's image, she rips out the page to keep with her. The temptation to be beautiful overcomes her, and she enters a dream-like state where she becomes Susan--but it means that Lucy no longer exists, and they know nothing of the Narnia that they discovered. When she wakes up, she sees Aslan in the mirror:

 

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Lucy Pevensie: That was awful.
  1. Aslan: But you chose it, Lucy.
  2. Lucy Pevensie: I didn't mean to choose all of that. I just wanted to be beautiful like Susan. That's all.
  3. Aslan: You wished yourself away, and with that, much more. Your brothers and sister wouldn't know Narnia without you, Lucy. You discovered it first, remember?
  4. Lucy Pevensie: I'm so sorry.
  5. Aslan: You doubt your value. Don't run from who you are.

I've never thought of it that way before, have you? That the longing to be beautiful like someone else is actually just wishing myself away, because I doubt my value and the contributions I've made to this world. Most of the time, it seems like the things I want will make me happier, more satisfied... maybe even more popular, in vogue and well-received. I've always thought of my desire to look like Kim as harmless, and maybe even a little silly. But if I did look like someone else, then I wouldn't be me.

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Every single one of us was made with a purpose, and while many of us (myself included) are still looking for what that means individually, it's important to realize that we make valuable contributions to our society everyday. Not all of us are destined to be the next President, CEO, general, or great bible study leader, but the small, seeming insignificant contributions we make everyday aren't worthless. We all have value, and it has nothing to do with the way we look. We have influence and impact on neighbors, friends, children, grandchildren, the kids down the street, book club members, spouses--even something as small as a smile offered to a harried grocery clerk who is having a bad day is significant. 

I shouldn't run from myself or doubt my value simply because I don't perceive myself as being as beautiful as someone else. That's placing the value of beauty on a pedestal in a society that already places youth and beauty at a premium. And it's not just a message for those of us who have already doubted our value based on how we look, but its also for those of us who have relationships with younger generations, whose ideals and thoughts are being formed by watching us. We will never be able to take away the advertising that is directed right at that weak point, but we can influence younger people by acting as a positive role model.  That means no more commenting on how fat you look in the mirror--at all--but especially in front of our impressionable, sweet babies. That means taking some days to spend more time with kids--whether that's through volunteering, or by just sitting in the floor and playing a game--than we do in front on the mirror, assessing make-up, clothes, your side view,  frontal view, rear view, pore size, hair style, jewelry, shoes...
 
But I can't just snap my fingers and make VALUE materialize. I've already tried for many years to create it on my own, with beauty treatments, material possessions, other people, knowledge...but none of those things ever gave me personal value. They didn't make me better, or more important. And eventually, in one way or another, all those things that I depended on to make me more valuable actually disappointed me, leaving me feeling empty and searching for the next big thing. Little did I know that the answer had been there all along, I just hadn't given Him much time or thought. What I discovered requires faith, and honestly, I still struggle with doubt. I don't always believe that I am the apple of His eye, like its says I am in Zechariah 2:8, or His crown jewel (Isaiah 62:3). I don't always trust that I have a worthwhile purpose, that my contributions are valuable, or that I can positively influence anyone else. And on those days, I look to the mirror, magazines and TV shows to tell me who I am (or who I'm not) and who I should be. And for me, that always leads down a path of defeat and anxiety, teaching my children that the only way to be happy and stay happy is to be perfectly beautiful all the time. 
 
It's time for an about-face, a redirection. Time to replace defeat with hope, anxiety with peace, self-hate with acceptance. 

Seek Me with your whole being. I desire to be found by you, and I orchestrate the events in your life with that purpose in mind. When things go well and you are blessed, you can feel Me smiling on you. When you encounter rough patches along your life-journey, trust that My Light is still shining on you. My reasons for encountering these adversities may be shrouded in mystery, but My continual Presence with you is an absolute promise. Seek Me in good times; seek me in hard times. You will find me watching over you all the time. {Sarah Young, Jesus Calling}

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