Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Yes, I am Beautiful

Oh, it's good to be back in ladies' Bible study after several weeks off. This was my first week of the Beth Moore study Esther: It's Tough Being a Woman. It's speaking to me already, and we're still in chapter 1 of Esther.

Tonight, we talked about how women desire to be beautiful. I don't know that that is necessarily a bad thing, if you keep it in perspective. For me, though, it's been a deep insecurity for as long as I can remember. I don't know why I worry about being pretty enough. Maybe it started when I was growing up with my beautiful younger sister. Or maybe it came from the deep-seated guilt that convinced me I was unlovable. I felt ugly inside, and I didn't know what to do about that, so I focused on the outside instead.

God has delivered me from that burden of guilt, and I am starting to open myself up to be loved by friends and family. But I still struggle with insecurities about my physical appearance, maybe because I'm not willing to surrender that part of my heart to God yet. I pray I'll have a breakthrough during this study.

During tonight's video, there were several moments that brought tears to my eyes because Beth spoke to the hurts in my heart and made me long to be whole. She read us an index card that she often reads during her quiet time. It has three scriptures that she rewrote using the word "I" so that she could remember to make them personal:
  • Colossians 2:10 - I am complete in Christ. (I don't need anyone else to make me complete.)
  • Song of Solomon 7:10 - I am my beloved's, and his desire is for me. (Yes, I am desirable--in the eyes of both my husband and my savior.)
  • Psalm 90:17 - May the beauty of the Lord my God rest upon me.
I had to swallow a sob when she read that last verse. Truly, even more than I desire to be physically beautiful, I long for God's beauty to shine in me. Oh God, whatever you need to do to make me beautiful like you, let it be so!

The next thing Beth talked about was Esther's painful past: she was orphaned at a young age and was raised by her cousin Mordecai; both of them were exiles far from their native land. She had no mother to teach her how to be a lady, but God made her altogether lovely. He surely used her struggles to shape her into someone different from all the other beauties in King Xerxes' harem. And of course, He had an amazing plan for her all along. He didn't erase her past; He built on it.

Beth shared this quote, which I absolutely love: "You cannot amputate your history from your destiny."

She also read some commentary about one of the Hebrew words for "past," which shares the same root word as the word for "present." She said our future is rooted in our past, and that our past, present, and future all have one root--Jesus. I pictured my life as a tree that has been growing from a seed to a sprout to a sapling. All of those stages of my life stem from ONE root, and it's impossible to separate my end from my beginning.

It gave me chills just trying to comprehend this mystery. God doesn't erase my past. Instead, He uses every experience to bend me and mold me according to His plan. As much as I'd like to erase my past mistakes, past wounds, past and present insecurities, all of those trials have shaped me into who I am--into the only woman who can fulfill the destiny God has planned for me. Like Esther, I have been brought into this world and placed into these circumstances "for such a time as this" (Esther 4:14). What will my destiny be?

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