Tag Archives: strength

Diamonds: Real or Fake?

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Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Now there’s a piece of marketing that has stuck for a very long time!

Why do we value diamonds? What makes them so desirable?

If it was their molecular makeup then technically we should be satisfied with zirconium. After all we could get a much bigger, much clearer stone for a whole lot less money! But we don’t want zirconium. We want a diamond and we’re willing to settle for an imperfect diamond as long as it is the real thing.

Why?

Diamonds take a long time to form. They incorporate the imperfections of their raw materials into their form. They vary in colour and clarity. They are costly to mine, cut and polish. They are highly prized and considered precious despite the fact that they often contain imperfections.

Zirconium is made by human effort and takes a relatively short time. They are inexpensive to make and while they can have colour added to them they are often perfect, lacking flaws. Despite this we consider them cheap imitations and even an insult when someone tries to present them to us as the real thing. We don’t value them much despite their seeming perfection.

We understand that value does not come from perfection. Yes we are often drawn into competing with one another for the title of “best”. Women have been accused of comparing themselves to Pinterest ideals, striving to have the perfect career, home, children, marriage, making a Instragram worthy meal. Men are not off the hook either. They have been accused of competing for the most money, newest car/boat/bike, having the hottest ‘wife’.  Yet instinctively we realize that none of these outward appearances really matter.

Outward appearances are about as valuable as zirconium. They may be nice but they are not deeply satisfying.  But a marriage that has been fought for, worked for and even overcomes bumps, trouble and danger is more deeply prized than one that just appears to be perfect on the surface.  A career that took twists, turns and looked like it would never amount to much can be much richer, more meaningful and satisfying than an easy arrival in the corner office.

We value the journey. We understand the value of scars that are woven into and made part of the finished product. We prize overcoming obstacles over smooth sailing. We may not like it, but we prize it.  We know, whether we admit it or not, that things of great value are worthy of a great fight.

What are you fighting for? What scars do you bear? What parts of your life seem like glaring imperfections? Those very parts – the imperfections – are proof of authenticity. They reveal that your life is indeed a genuine diamond in the making.  The choice is yours. Will you allow that imperfection to make you a valuable diamond that is unquestionably genuine or will you allow that imperfection to be a fault, creating a breaking point, making the diamond too fragile to be used for display?

You see not all diamonds get set in beautiful pieces of jewelry. Some are used for industrial purposes because they are too weak to be cut into large enough pieces for admiration. Or their imperfections are too close to the surface to allow their beauty to ever shine through. Even so they are not discarded. They are used, they have a purpose, but they don’t ever live up to their potential.

When we don’t allow our wounds to be cleaned, they can not heal properly. When they can not heal properly they not only leave a scar they leave a weakness, a tender spot that limits our ability to use that injured part to its full potential. The hurts in our lives need to heal totally and completely to keep us from being held back in life. A scar may be visible, but a properly healed scar is a place of strength. Like a flaw in a diamond, it does not diminish your value. It reveals your authenticity.

The Master Jeweler understands the value of an authentic diamond. He knows how to cut and polish each one to reveal its true beauty and potential. He knows how to incorporate the scars so that they increase your brilliance and don’t detract from it. He also knows how to heal the wounds so that they leave strong scars. We don’t have to let Him heal the wounds in our lives but without healing the wounds will continue to hold us back.

It is far better to be a genuine diamond with flaws than a perfect and artificial zirconium. Will you allow yourself to be cut, polished and set in the perfect piece as a flawed but authentic diamond?

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Are You Limiting Your Legacy?

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Ladies, let’s be honest. If you walk into a room full of women what are most of us eventually going to be talking about? The latest book we read on leadership principles? The newest scientific discovery? Economic principles? Political developments? No? How about proposals for community improvement? Educational theories? No? Well, maybe we are discussing truths from our recent Bible study? Discoveries of life principles? Or maybe about how we are planning to make a difference this week in the life of the family down the street?

No. We are most likely going to be discussing our latest diet, exercise and food restriction programs. We are most likely discussing our body image and our desire to lose some weight, get slimmer and fit into some arbitrary size that we feel will make us more acceptable to others. I know, this is a gross generalization, but even so it is not too far off the mark.

I’ve recently gotten to meet lots of women in various settings, of various ages and various educational levels. By no means has this been a homogenous group. Yet the common thread with each group was how quickly the conversation turned to weight loss, food restriction and a desire to be smaller.

I get it. There is a lot of pressure on us as women to meet an ideal and it’s hard not to get sucked in, even in the name of getting healthy. There are so many experts out there spouting off what is considered to be the most current understanding of healthy eating and weight. The cultural ideal of beauty assaults us in the grocery store, the gym, the doctor’s office, even the library. The pressure is everywhere and the reminders are constant.

As women we turn to each other for reassurance and support in this rough environment. By discussing our latest struggle, making self-deprecating comments about our ‘extra’ weight we disarm our critics before they can fire disapproval at us and we become part of the tribe. It’s not easy being a woman in a youth-obsessed, skinnier-is-better minded world.

“I so want to have a cupcake right now, but I’m over my calorie limit already today!”
“I have to get my workout in today because I had a slice of bread with my salad at lunch today.”
“I’m not buying any new clothes until I lose this extra weight and get back into size X clothes.”

I have been guilty of these comments, these conversations. I too have tried to be part of the tribe, to fit in (pun intended). I’ve apologized for my size, for eating when I was hungry. I’ve made excuses for having a slice of cake lovingly prepared for a celebration of a loved one’s life. I’ve been there. That’s why my heart aches.

Girls, is that all we are? Is this the legacy we want to leave our daughters? Our very actions tell our precious girls that despite all the dreams, hopes and imaginations within them, all they can truly look forward to is becoming experts on weight loss, calorie counting and food restriction. Whether we realize it or not, this is what our actions and girl-friend conversations tell our daughters!

Are we unknowingly restricting not food, but our potential to leave a mark on this world? Are we limiting our legacies? Short changing our potential by focusing so much time, energy and emotion on controlling our food intake?  Are we letting food control our lives?

For the vast majority of us, food is not something we worry about having enough of. No, in fact we worry instead about eating too much. We are not in fear of starving, but we are starving ourselves in fear of eating more than we deserve. I believe that Jesus addressed this very issue in Luke 12:23 when He said, “For life is more than food…” In the middle of teaching about greed, eternal life, spiritual choices, hoarding, generosity and trust Jesus tells His disciples not to be anxious or troubled about their lives, what they will eat (or wear). Jesus states that life is more than food (and clothes). In the Aramaic-English New Testament this passage is translated as the soul is greater than food.  The soul, that part that is our personality, our uniqueness, our identity. Jesus says that part of us is more important than the food we eat.

Who we are. Who we were created to be. All the potential placed within us has far more value than the ability to control our food intake. Our ability to plan, dream, create, design and implement was intended for far more than managing a food and exercise plan. We were meant to have an impact on this world.

Women are capable of wrestling with matters of greater consequence. We can tackle matters of great spiritual, intellectual, artistic, social and moral importance. We are capable of contributing far more to our homes, churches, work places and communities than just the latest weight loss plan. We are more than a number on a scale. More than a size on our clothing tags!

What could our friendships be like if we encouraged each other to develop and grow our  souls? What if we spent more mental and emotional energy on making a difference in our relationships? Our communities? Our children’s school? What if we were as determined and focused on developing interpersonal skills? Spiritual development? Work expertise?  How could we impact that world if we spent as much time becoming active students of the Bible as we do on implementing the latest weight-loss craze? Imagine how we could impact the world if the focus of our souls was on almost any other thing rather than restricting our food?

This is not meant to be a guilt-inducing lecture lovely. No, I do not want to replace the legalism of weight-loss and food restriction with a different set of rules about the time you spend reading your Bible, or the number of seminars you attend, hours you volunteer or any other program. No my lovely it’s quite the opposite! I would love to see us break free from the gravitational pull our size- and food-obsessed society has created and truly be free to live in the fulness and joy we were meant to have.

When Jesus said that He came to give us a full life (John 10:10) I don’t see an asterisk that says, “Except for women. You women will have to forever contend with watching your weight and restricting your food.” It does NOT say that because Jesus never intended for us to live like that!

Yes we are to develop self-discipline. Yes, we need to take good care of our bodies. Yes gluttony is a sin and yes it can cut our lives short. But so can obsessing over our weight and restricting the food we need to stay healthy and strong. The amount of obsessing, restricting and talking about our food we do says, “God, I just can’t trust You to meet my needs. I’m afraid if I don’t worry about it, You may forget me.”

The One who knew you before you were conceived can not forget you!

Lovely, please listen to my heart. I so hope for your sake that you can move beyond letting your food and your weight determine your legacy. I pray you’ll give up the need to always be on top of every morsel that crosses your lips and instead you’ll learn to eat with gratitude. Eat to fuel your body so that you have the energy to live in the fullness of your purpose and passions. Let go of your need to hit a magic number on the scale or on the clothing tag and instead explore your calling!

I pray you’ll discover the depths of the legacy you are called to leave as you develop and grow in fullness in every part of your being. I pray you catch a vision of what is possible and the difference you can make in this world. I pray as you explore the fulness of the life God has in store for you other women will rise up and join you and find the same freedom!

May our conversations become life-giving, purpose-affirming, joy-multiplying, legacy-creating, sources of encouragement. May we become women of wisdom, courage, strength and beauty. May we be examples of health, peace, unity and passion. May we live on purpose!