|My world says that I should look like her to become beautiful. What does God say?|
The class was called "Body Combat" and ever since, I definitely have felt like someone beat me up. It was fun, don't get me wrong- lots of jabbing and kicking to upbeat music. But all that bouncing and balancing on my left foot (which I broke back in the fall) threw my lower back and left leg muscles out of wack, they've been in pain since. Yesterday, I went to "Body Flow" to stretch and soothe all that I strained and tightened on Monday.
I like going to the gym. I like exercising off stress and getting (hopefully) in better shape for soccer. I think it's a good thing to take care of your body so you can have the stamina you need for the life God calls you to live. But what does tend to happen when I'm at the gym is that I look around at the people who are thinner, younger, taller, more muscular or flexible than myself and I feel discouraged. I try to tell myself that I'm there so that I can be "the best me that I can be," and sometimes that works, and sometimes I still leave feeling like I've got to cut out all sugar so I won't have any belly fat at all.
This morning, I'm sitting on the sofa, very sore, and trying to catch up on this week's BSF lesson. The second day's questions are about "submission." The lesson asked us to look up the meaning of the word. Dicionary.com told me it means, "humble and unresisting obedience." Not my favorite word. I don't struggle tons with submitting to Andy- probably because our marriage is so harmonious that I'm rarely asked to do anything I really don't want to do. But there are other areas in my life where I don't want to be submissive. I like my pride very much, thank you, and no I don't want anyone to tell me what I have to or ought to do.
We were asked to read some verses to see what God has to say about submission, humility and meekness, which are all in the same vein. 1 Peter 3: 3-6 stuck out to me like never before...
"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is how the women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are daughters if you do what is right and don't give way to fear."
This has been one of those verses in the Bible that I've liked to edit from my own life. I've never liked this verse, probably because I like going shopping and the whole "fine clothes" thing speaks directly to me. Plus, not too many women in the U.S. in this day and age would go around calling their husband "master" like it was a good thing. Someone would see you do that once, and immediately schedule your appearance on Dr. Phil. So it's tempting to dismiss it as irrelevant.
But today, maybe it's the soreness, maybe it's the memories of the dozens of tan, thin, young gals at the gym who make me wish that I was something other than what God made- I see freedom in this verse for the first time. God is saying- submit to me, and beauty is guaranteed. The world is saying- get your body (and your whole life) to submit to you, and if you work hard enough, for a few years, at least, you'll be beautiful. Maybe it's because I'm getting older, or because I'm just too tired to fight that fight because so many other things are going on- but who has the energy to keep on beating their physical body into submission forever so that they can look like some idealized image of "beauty?" God's actually calling me to something way easier- trust in Him, hope in Him. That's where the submission, and therefore the obedience are actually directed. Those women that are being talked about in this verse, they didn't submit to their husbands because their husbands deserved it, or because as women they were inferior, or because men are just so awesome and good and we should all just bow low and let them pass by with their chest puffed out and their chins held high. That kind of thinking disgusts me. But that's not what God is asking me or anyone else to do. He's not asking me to think something false or grandiose about another human (male or female) so that I can succumb to their every whim. He's asking me to trust Him. And that, He says, is beautiful.
I'd like to try it. I'm not going to quit going to the gym. By and large, we're there for the right reasons. But while I am there, I'm not going to think less of myself or less of the skinny tan girls on the stair stepper. Because what difference does it make? Real beauty is inside and gentle... and quiet. And honestly, I think probably a lot less painful to develop than the perfect physique... at least that's the tale that these sore muscles and grateful heart choose to believe this morning.