Beauty is in the Eyes

Actually, true beauty is found in the heart.  It’s the one place where the Spirit of God lives. If the Spirit is not in our hearts, then how we appear to others may not be attractive.  Does that really matter? Does how I look on the outside really, truly matter to people? I’m not huge on wearing makeup daily or having the latest fashions. How important is that?

It never ceases to amaze me how much society values outer beauty. Take Hollywood for instance. Every year, People Magazine produces a “beautiful people” issue. The front cover displays the “most beautiful” person with a blurb on the inside of the magazine about why they were chosen for this descriptive title. What makes that person really more beautiful or attractive than say, someone like me? I won’t compare myself to the celebrities in Hollywood. I’m not them and they’re not me.  I used to idolize the women of Hollywood. I wanted to be an actress at one point in my life. The problem was that I never felt I could measure up to the societal standards that Hollywood set. I was never outwardly pretty enough. My thighs are too thick and my stomach isn’t flat.

Funny, that stuff doesn’t matter to God.

“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7

God’s looking at my heart. He sees the beauty on the inside of me; the beauty that I am cultivating with His help. Think about it for a moment… What is attractive about a person’s outward appearance if they are mean, rude, crass, and volatile in spirit? What is manifested in the heart, shines on the outside.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,” – Galatians 5:22

I cannot say enough about how God wants our hearts. He has my heart. My desire is to be the fruit of the Holy Spirit, becoming love, joy, peace, patience, and all those other things that come from believing in Christ’s atonement. When others look at me, I don’t want them to notice that I’m not wearing makeup or a trendy pair of jeans. I want them to see my smile and the way my eyes light up at acknowledging their presence. I don’t need compliments from men about my looks or my body.  Oh my gosh! At work, we utilize surveys to improve our customer service. Several weeks ago, there was a comment directed towards me. It was sexual in nature, discussing my “luscious breasts”. I was horrified! I was not viewed as a medical professional but rather as a sexual object. I felt degraded and dirty. I dress modestly, especially at work. My body is not on display to lure or entice the sexual appetite of others. That particular comment scared me. It made me wonder what I was doing wrong. Luckily, I have a boss who does not allow any of the women to be disrespected in that manner. He’s quick to step up to the plate and immediately asked our regional manager to look into the comment. Our corporate office has since removed the comment and that particular patient was transferred elsewhere.

I’ve never really thought I was pretty until the last 10 years. I thought I was okay looking and I used sarcastic humor to attract others. Never felt gorgeous or that I lived up to Hollywood standards. It was a blow to my self-esteem for many years. Now, I don’t particularly care if others find me attractive. I know I’m beautiful. On the inside. Where it COUNTS! I’ve never had a consistently ugly personality, thankfully. I know several women who are pretty on the outside but the minute their mouths open, the ugliness spews forth.

“likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,” – 1 Timothy 2:9

I wish I could say that I truly didn’t care about my looks. I don’t to a degree. I’ve decided that I’m reserving my physical appearance for the man God needs me to have according to His will. On occasion I’ll wear makeup. I might even do my hair or wear a dress and heels. For now, I’ll wear the beauty of God’s Spirit, which is in me.

Dear Heavenly Father,

I understand that it is my heart that makes me beautiful. I must give credit to You and Your Holy Spirit which dwells in me. Please help me to let the wondrous beauty of who You are shine on the outside. Please continue to fill me with Your fruits and help me to cultivate them. My desire is to bring forth the characteristics of Christ in all I do, so that others may see You as the Creator of all things.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

What Is Love? Pt. 2

My boyfriend and I had the following conversation last night:

I’ve spent most of today thinking about what love means to me. I’ve come to believe love is circular in many ways. Think about it for a moment…

A wedding band is a never ending circle demonstrating the emotional bond between two people. Love is two hearts sharing a single beat. Does your heart skip a beat when you look at your significant other? Mine does. Perhaps it’s my heartbeat syncing with his as I fall in love.

Love can be symbolized in many ways. It is often seen in the form of a heart. When love, we’re supposed to love with all our heart, right? The symbolism of the heart equating to love began in the 15th century. It’s a great way to write love. Red roses also represent love.

For me, after much thought, love is more of a demonstration rather than the verbal or written word. My boyfriend shows me his love (maybe I shouldn’t use that word just yet in regards to him yet) by doing little things for me. He holds my hand when we walk through a store or at the movies. He holds me when I need to be held, without even saying a word. He came to see me this past weekend after the horrible week I had. I didn’t ask him to but he knew I needed to feel how much he genuinely cares for me.

He’s filled my gas tank on more than one occasion. That demonstrated so much of how he feels about me. Case in point – I drove nearly everywhere and my ex never once offered to pay for gas. Not even for the 45 minute one way drive to pick up his ex-stepdaughter. Sad.

Gifts from the heart are great for birthdays, anniversaries, and Christmas but they don’t truly symbolize what love is. Material goods are not a replacement for real love.

Actions speak louder than words. The same goes for love. Anyone can say the words. They’re just words. Do they have meaning? Yes. When said at the right time and in the right context, those three little words have a powerful impact on its recipient.

Love is a very strong emotion. It is possible to love unconditionally. I mean more than just your child.

Love is the ability to give all of yourself, every fiber of your being to another person. It is the internal swelling of your heart when you look at him. It is in the way you kiss – kissing him like you miss him, even when he was simply in the next room. It’s resting your head on his shoulder and holding his hand while watching television.

It is communication. It is finding the words to lift each other up, especially during arguments. It is being supportive during hard times. It is finding the time to just be imperfect together. Nobody is perfect.

Love is a learning process.

It is the process of two hearts becoming one.

Communication

Talk to me.

The problem is I can’t verbalize it. I cannot speak the words necessary to convey the overwhelming thoughts in my head. I’ve always been this way. Even as a child, I couldn’t feel anything to express myself. The words never came.

I still struggle with this but I’ve gotten better than I once was. I write. My written expressions are far better than what comes out of my mouth.

There is pain. There is a guarded wall around my heart. I can show and speak love, but I do not always feel it, no matter how it’s demonstrated. I felt love as it was spoken to me last year, after spending a few days in a mental hospital.

I had a nervous breakdown. It felt peaceful being there, despite the damage. I am broken. I am damaged. However, that doesn’t meant I’m beyond repair. I cling to that hope most days. The staff didn’t understand why I was there. I’m not an addict. I didn’t have a death wish. I had no plan of action for suicide.

I was just in a tremendous amount of mental anguish and emotional pain. I was overwhelmed by life. I knew suicide wasn’t the answer. Hence, no plan.

My need for self-preservation was greater than my need for self-harm. I kept repeating that as it was how I felt. I still feel that way. Please allow me to repeat myself…

My desire for self-preservation is greater than my need for self-harm.

I’ve been through counseling. I was studying to become a therapist myself. Those studies were abandoned when I realized I couldn’t help anyone until I fixed myself. Instead of fixing myself, I dove deeper into my self-created spiral. I created it by my actions. The detriment of myself. The degradation and devaluation of who I was. I had lost control of my life.

I feel as though I’ve failed. Failed in relationships, not just the romantic ones either. Failed as a woman. Failed in my general existence. It’s depressing and overwhelming.

Don’t worry. I have no intention of ending my life. No future plans of it, either. God will take me home when He’s good and ready. I have a lot of reasons to live. I have an amazing and supportive boyfriend who gets me and understands what I’m going through. I’m sure it scares him at times, especially being so far away. My two best friends are incredible too. They know how to make me laugh until I pee my pants. They also have been through hell with me. I know my parents love me. I love my niece, D, and there’s another girl in the way. How would my brother explain that the pain I was feeling destroyed my self-preservation? Without certain people in my life, I’m not sure how I would survive.

In the meantime, I will shed tears for no reason. Shutdown emotionally so I can sort the mess in my head. When I learn how to talk and find the words I need in order to express myself without destroying relationships, I will know how to convey what’s in my heart.

Imagine a cassette tape. Your cassette player has pulled out the magnetic strip to the very end. The end that was once glued to the wheel. Now it’s a jumbled mess that no pencil can wind back inside it’s original container.

Yep, that’s what’s inside my head.

He Sees Me

The darkness has turned to light

The cup of joy overflows into a river of happiness long overdue

Tides of a ripple effect, washes over my heart

He sees me

The whole of my heart, bathed in light

His care is for me alone, as I walk with trepidation for the new-founded love

He sees me

Unabridged, unedited, raw with hidden emotions and an unbridled yearning

My heart has waited, patiently, to feel the strength of a single beat in unison

He sees me, for all that I am

He sees me, for who I am and what I will become

He sees me

Toxicity and Boundaries

Today’s sermon at church was a really hard one for me to hear.

For many years, I had no boundaries. I had no morals, scruples, or standards. I was in my twenties, a time when I was meant to be free yet not allowed to make mistakes. I had no idea what life was supposed to be or how to even live it. I had bound myself to the whims of others. I molded myself into what I believed others wanted me to be. I had no clue how to be myself. I hadn’t the slightest as to who I was. Only what others required of me without asking about me.

This is some treacherous territory for me.

It was only a few years ago that I truly realized who I was. I had fought for several years to establish my own identity. I knew exactly who I was and where I was headed. I was strong. I was independent (to a degree). I was fearless.

While I knew I could not conquer the world on my own, I knew I didn’t want to be alone. God didn’t create just Adam; He brought Eve into the world, straight out of the side. I knew I was not meant to be without someone. I went in a few dates, made a very small handful of friends, then set forth on a relationship.

The roses smelled so sweet in the beginning. I had few established boundaries. I knew what I would or wouldn’t do. I had no expectations of someone else. Perhaps I should have though. It may have saved me from a lot of heartache.

Hindsight is 20/20.

Subtlety is a cruel animal. It blinds us to the natural erosion of time. I did not wake up one morning and say, “whoa! When did this happen?” No, it happened over time. Very slowly and gradually.

I allowed myself to become molded into what someone else wanted.

I was the newborn butterfly returned to its cocoon. I was no longer free to fly. No longer allowed to be what had been attracted to in the first place.

Others saw it before I did. Again, hindsight is perfection at its finest. I never saw it until I availed myself the opportunity to step outside of my environment. I, Mia, had slowly eroded my joy of self-establishment. Who was I? What had I allowed to happen that I lost my identity? I did not recognize the person in the mirror staring back at me.

Like the path a flowing river creates, the tides of my personality had ebbed.

What few boundaries I had were gone. My toxicity levels were high. I began to search for the root of my bane existence. Existence. That was it in a nutshell. I existed. I was not living. I was not surviving. I was not thriving. I was simply existing. I was not even present in the moments of time.

My life, in its lackluster essence, was toxic.

Was it me directly? Was it the people around me? Was it my job that I supposedly loved? Was it my day-to-day routine?

What was the base element of the poison that adhered to my disposition, thus creating a deplorable shell of self?

I had allowed poison into my life. A person who was toxic within themselves. My personal boundaries had withered away and were replaced. Granted, the new boundaries were a higher set of moral standards, they should never have been set to replace my personality and who I was. Instead, the new boundaries should have been imposed gradually so as to not destroy the butterfly inside the cocoon!

With the toxicity safely removed, I am emerging once again. I still have no expectations of others, as we are all human and prone to failures of sorts. However, the standards and boundaries I have set for myself have changed. Never again will I allow a poisonous element eradicate or alter who I know I am to be.

I know what I will allow. I know what I will not accept.

Remove the toxic elements and set your boundaries. You are in control of your happiness.