Wednesday, October 9, 2013

31 Days of Listening {to the Spirit} {to Others} {to Myself}

I'm giving myself 30 minutes max to write this post, because it's late on Wednesday night and I need to go to bed. And I have so many thoughts! And I could probably spend hours thinking about each thing I've learned and try to do justice to what God is teaching me by writing it all out really well.

But that's not going to happen tonight. Mama's tired, and sleep lands above writing on my priorities list.

Monday was a day for bravery. And laying down defenses. And what I wasn't expecting was the way I responded to this call to walk through my day makeup free. I am not a brave person, by nature. Sometimes I do things and although I might look brave from the outside? I'm a hot mess of insecurity on the inside.

But Monday... Oh Monday you taught me something about myself. I resisted the urge to use the chapstick that has a little bit of a rosy tint, and didn't give in to the temptation to just dab a tiny bit of concealer on my scabbed over enormous zit on my nose (it's concealer - no one would know the difference!), and I went for it 100%. No cutting corners.


Can I tell you something? I spent a lot of time that morning in The Word, intentionally examining what God says about me - about us - and journaling my thoughts and responses. I got so lost in His love and grace and goodness that Robbie ended up a little late to school. I reluctantly stepped away from that lifeline that my Bible has become in order to move through my day's responsibilities. I want it to always be like that. Hesitant to leave Living Waters and Daily Bread.

Before leaving the house I took a picture of my bare face - and decided that even though no one else had (yet), I would post that picture to Instagram for all to see. If I was going to do this, I was going to DO IT. All in.

As I dropped the kids off at kindergarten (Robbie), preschool (Ellie) and childcare (Maddie), a few beautiful things began to happen. More women posting their bare faces on Instagram... more souls exposed and more masks and defenses being laid down for all to see... women all over DuPage County, the East Coast, the South, the Midwest and across the pond. Even a sweet friend serving the Lord in Thailand. A band of sisters emerged, not to act more spiritual than others, not to prove anything to anyone... it was simply an effort to strip away something most of us heavily rely on apart from God for confidence and security.

We all had different experiences, but I would venture to say that most of us experienced terror (at the thought of what we agreed to), insecurity (stepping out of our house/van in front of others for the first time), relief, awareness and then a good amount of freedom and blessing as God worked in each of our hearts in His own ways.

For me? The most beautiful part was watching my Instagram feed blow up with gorgeous women whose bare faces revealed a little more of their soul than usual. The surprising part was that I was overcome with a desire to encourage, uplift, speak into, and come alongside each and every woman taking this challenge. I could tell some were really struggling with it early in the day. My heart went out to them - I wanted to lift them up higher than myself! I wanted to hug them, point out the huge zit on my nose and laugh about it together ("horrible timing, huh!?") - I wanted to disarm and comfort them. I wanted to stand with them in all of our weakness and show them that being who we really are, even when it's not as pretty as we'd hoped, is even better than pretense. And that it makes me want to move TOWARD them, not away (as we all think it will naturally repel others).

The other thing that surprised me was the way I felt like I was relating out of a more honest place as I interacted with other women (whether they had on makeup or not). Sometimes I wear makeup to feel more put together, or after a night of particularly broken sleep it helps me feel ready for the day externally even though internally I want to crawl back in bed or cry. To walk around without a lick of makeup on made me feel very exposed, like my truth was on display for all to see. Some of it (my truth), I'm ok and at peace with. Some of it I like to 'present' to others a certain way, or at certain times, or only to certain friends. Monday kind of took that away from me, and I found myself feeling very raw and like I said, exposed. both physically and spiritually/emotionally. But it also changed ever so slightly the way I related to everyone.

And it was a good thing.

I wasn't comparing myself to anyone. I wasn't hiding parts of me, I wasn't posturing in any way. It's really, really humbling to wash your face and then walk out the door and feel like all your imperfections are like headlamps turned to high beam. Sometimes life humbles us. Sometimes God humbles us. But sometimes it's really good to just humble yourself. Instead of competing for beauty, attention, love, friendship, admiration, or whatever else we might be trying to obtain... laying our emptiness aside and refusing for one day to try and fill it ourselves in ways that still leave us empty shows us just how much we need our Heavenly Father.

A few things I observed during "makeup free Monday":

- our daughters are paying attention to what we decide is beautiful, and we need to be actively living our Gospel Truth in front of them, as well as speaking it over them. One friend intentionally engaged her 4 year old daughter in a conversation about why mommy wasn't wearing makeup that day, and her daughter's reaction surprised her. Our girls, at such a young age, have picked up on the world's definition of beauty. We can help them become Godly, confident women who love Jesus and love what Jesus loves most by walking with them now through these issues. By modeling it. By speaking it. By helping them practice it when they're 4 and 6 and 10, instead of waiting for those adolescent years to come and stir this all up in their hearts only to find that our precious girls have an already-established self image and narrative of who they are and what they are worth that has been handed to them by someone other than God.

- it feels really good to rub your eyes throughout the day, and to wash it morning, noon and night. It's freeing not to wonder if something's smudged or dripping or rubbed off or needs reapplying.

- not going to lie, it feels fantastic to wake up the next morning and apply foundation to cover all those imperfections. It also feels good to realize that so much less makeup than you're used to wearing is more than enough to get through the day feeling put together. I'm much more content with a quicker makeup routine involving about 1/2 as many products than I was a few days ago. Mostly because I don't feel like I NEED all of the rest. Is makeup fun? Yes. I love makeup. I love playing with colors, new products, different looks, etc. I don't think makeup itself is bad. It's like everything else though - moderation is really important. How I use it and WHY is really important. When it gets a little out of control? When I feel like I can't go without it? When I feel like it's accomplishing something for me (that I should be finding in the Lord)? Time to reexamine things. Maybe pull back a little. I'll probably go makeup free a lot more often now, just to keep my perspective on things straight. Not because I particularly enjoy that. But because it was a good exercise for me. Really good. I'm already planning my next 'makeup fast', as well as how I can fast in a few other areas of my life that could really use a perspective shift or just straight up discipline and minimalism.

- there is freedom in breaking chains in our lives, but there is JOY in doing it together with others. I didn't expect so much community to come out of the challenge to go makeup free on Monday with other women, most of whom I know. We were built to live in community with one another. Could I have walked through the day makeup free on my own and still learned a lot about myself? Sure. But I learned so much more by doing it with other women. They spoke into my life. They lived things out loud that I learned from. I could encourage them, knowing what they were going through. We overlapped in our efforts in a way that made us stronger. Definitely more brave. None of us will forget the experience. I don't think it was insignificant to a single woman who participated. And we have each other to help us remember. Doing anything together is better than doing it alone. Accountability is important and helpful, and makes the journey more palatable and the victory 1,000 times sweeter.


I continue to be amazed by the way God FAITHFULLY meets us when we call out to Him. Anytime I have ever sought Him... He has been there. Sometimes it's harder than other times to hear His voice or trace His hand. But I do not doubt His presence. Monday was a day for remembering who we are, how God made us, and what He thinks of us. I think He spoke to us in a hundred different ways, weaving blessing and healing into our hearts as we tried to walk a little closer to Him.

I'm learning that laying things down in order to hear Him more clearly is always worth it. He has a lot to speak into my life, a lot to say about Himself and about me. It's my choice to stop and be still and quiet, to practice the art of listening to Him. There are so many ways I can do this... I know I'm only just scratching the surface.

Related: THIS VIDEO. I had seen it a long time ago, and it was played again for us this morning at Bible Study. So powerful. How we see ourselves, our beauty, as women... Please watch it...

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