7 days of beauty (and guilt, and ugliness…)

I’m not exactly sure where the thought originated, but somewhere, sometime in high school, I heard the idea proposed:

“What if we spent as much time in the Bible each day as we do in the mirror every morning?”

Since the beginning of October, this idea of actually testing out this saying has been running around in my mind.So, just this past week, I finally decided to do it. I was going to (somewhat) time my time myself in the mirror each morning. Now, let me just be give you a little bit of an idea of what my time in the mirror usually is:

I take about 15 minutes in the shower.
About 15 minutes on my hair,
5  minutes on my make-up,
& about 10 getting dressed.

I’m not crazy high maintenance  but that’s still a significant amount of time to spend on just my appearance for the day. Now, spiritually, I spend less than 50% of the time (that I do in the mirror) in my devotions each night. I read for about 10 minutes, pray for about 3 minutes and call it a night. However, this challenge was gonna force me to find more to read, to meditate and analyze on what I read instead of just breezing over it. I knew if I was going to do this, I had to be fair about it. I had to make sure to time myself getting ready in the morning, and not in any way purposely try to shorten the time I spent in the mirror each morning. Being completely honest here, I think I went into it a little too light-hearted. I was thinking it was gonna be this fun little thing where I time myself every morning and at night, read for that amount of time and find great verses and that be that. But, I don’t think I took it as seriously as needed. Here’s why:

I started on Monday, November 12th. The days following were so weird and the complete opposite of what I was expecting. I thought that by spending more time in my Bible on a daily basis, I would feel closer to God than I had in awhile. However, the first few days hit me with obstacles that I hadn’t even considered.

My extended time in the word each day resulted in two heavy, heavy emotions: the first one was guilt.

This emotion was particularly tough to deal with because I didn’t see it coming. But it makes sense, extended time in the light is bound to bring out any kind of darkness within me. I began to suddenly feel conviction over sins that my heart had been calloused to. Surface sins like the words that come out of my mouth, and deeper sins that I’ve never even acknowledged to be a sin because I’ve spent all my time rationalizing them. But, the extended time I was spending in my Bible was causing me to feel the guilt and conviction over these sins. And if we’re being completely honest, this wasn’t the guilt & conviction feeling that comes after hearing a good message at church & fades soon after. No, this guilt was much different; it was the guilt that had come directly from the holy spirit and it was hitting me hard. I felt the heaviest burden upon my shoulders. I felt disgusted. I felt like I had been taking advantage of God’s grace all this time. How dare I try to rationalize a sin to be okay? And most of all, I felt like a hypocrite. After these feelings, I almost didn’t even want to open my Bible because I was afraid of the conviction that was awaiting me.

The next emotion I felt throughout the week was ugly.

Again, being brutally honest here, I think this was the ugliest I have ever felt in my entire life.
It wasn’t one of those bad days where your hair isn’t cooperating. It was a full three days, and I felt hideous in all areas of my body. Literally, from my eyebrows, to my nail beds, my collarbones, my thighs…everything. Either it looked too bony, too fat, or it just looked “off”. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m a girl, so I have those days where you just look at yourself in the mirror and you’re like “My thighs are huge!” But this was different..I felt it throughout the duration of my entire day, about all parts of me. Every little thing on me just felt ugly. Even when my hair was done and the make-up was on, I just did not feel like anything looked right on me. Take the spiritual ugliness, plus a feeling of physical ugliness…not what I was expecting to result from reading my Bible more.

So here I am, about halfway through the week, feeling all of these emotions that I never expected to come. And then it hits me…the devil is 100% behind every single emotion. This sounds a little freaky, but again, being completely honest here, Satan has this tendency (in my life, at least) where he goes after me on whatever I’m focusing on. Say I’m focusing on not gossiping, I SWEAR someone breaks up or some major drama goes down that people wanna gossip about, and all the while I’m trying to practice keeping my lips zipped. Well here I am, focusing on devoting equal/more time in my bible than on my physical appearance and I feel these emotions of guilt and ugliness – and it hits me like a ton of bricks – Satan is totally going after me. Think about it, only Satan could take someone trying to focus on Gods word, feel so incredibly guilty about the sins that were surfacing, rather than forgiven. Only Satan would hit me with feelings of disgust and ugliness over my physical appearance when I am focusing on the time I spend on it. The day I realized I was being attacked by Satan was the best day out of the entire week because it was then that the entire week turned around. That night, I stumbled upon this verse in my devotions:

Psalms 32:5 “Then I acknowledged my sin to you. I did not cover up my iniquity…I said, ” I will confess my transgressions to the Lord” and you forgave the guilt of my sin.”

If you need to, read that verse a few more times until it hits you as hard as its supposed too. If that wasn’t God speaking directly to me, I’m not quite sure what is. There are so many verses in the Bible that talk about God forgiving the sin itself, but this verse specifically says “you forgave the guilt [exactly what I was feeling] of my sin.” Instantly I was comforted and I felt like any heaviness I felt upon my shoulders was lifted. The verses I came upon throughout the following days were comforting and assuring. Verses like Psalms 34:19, “A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him through them all. ” A topic that the Psalms I was reading kept hitting was God being our refuge. (something I’d eventually love to write about!)  I think it was safe to say that was God inviting me to take refuge in Him and let go of all the guilt I was feeling. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t like I read one verse and I suddenly felt as though I had never sinned and all was well and perfect within my heart. I still had my transgressions, but I was no longer holding onto the guilt of them, and I sure as heck wasn’t going to let Satan convince me that a creation of God is ugly, or too bony or too fat, or too anything… I took rest in that I look exactly how I’m supposed too and nothing God makes is ugly.

These seven days were more challenging than I expected them to be. However, I think that through them, I was able to experience the greatest emotions any Christian can – conviction, forgiveness and being embraced by the love of my savior. 

“Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes.  You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. ” 1 Peter 3:3 & 4

xo
Toni

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