Okay, let me start off by saying that I do not like to put limits on God. That's why I was not surprised when I felt like God was speaking to me through an episode of Sex & the City, specifically episode 3 of season 3, entitled "Attack of the 5'10" Woman". Yes, I watch Sex & the City. I love Sex & the City! Because of the sex? Not really. But because of the relationships and the way it reflects on the nature of men and women, the way it depicts the way women relate and think...and how important time with your girl friends really is. I always get to thinking when I'm watching Sex & the City. I think about how much I appreciate my friends, and how I wish that I had time to sit down at least once a week with my girlfriends and talk...about real things...I mean, jobs and school...but also relationships and most importantly, God. I have always appreciated women's Bible studies so much...and conversations with godly women. It's such a blessing. I love the insights and the sharing and the learning that takes place (I always get so much out of it). But alas, I often get swept up with busy-ness and don't get that time...and I'm not even in an organized women's Bible study , right now. I wish I could have a Bible study with my good girl friends. It would be amazing...mind blowing! Even if it's just a simple one. Like my sister gave me a devotional called "Time for Coffee" or something like that...essentially, it's a short little devotional designed to be read over a cup of coffee. As soon as I saw it, I thought about how great it would be to be able to discuss it with another woman over coffee. Astounding! (I would like to point out that there is a part of me that would love to live a fabulous Sex & the City life...complete with great girlfriends, frequent meetings with those girlfriends, great food, and great events. And, what you should know...I think I'm a bit more of a Charlotte...)
Anyway, so this episode was special to me because it really spoke to my struggles with self-image and such. In this episode, Charlotte expresses insecurity over her body. She goes to a spa with her friends and is too embarrassed to remove her towel in the women's steam room. When she talks about it with Carrie, she says it's because she felt like the women were looking at her like her thighs were too big. Carrie tells her that it isn't true and that she has a beautiful figure, but it throws Charlotte for a loop, and she changes her eating habits to reflect her insecurity. What I'm trying to say is that she decided she couldn't/shouldn't eat sweets anymore, ordering a fruit cup instead of a dessert with her coffee. She said that a fruit cup was splurging because it had so many carbs and that she had to be careful because she hated her thighs. Carrie said, "Honey, the problem isn't your thighs, it's your head." When Carrie talked about needing to look fabulous at a luncheon over coffee, Charlotte told her that she was stunning and amazing and would be the most incredible woman in the room no matter what she wore. Carrie said, "Thanks, sweetie, but why can't you do that same thing for yourself." It kind of gave Charlotte the encouragement she needed to try the steam room again. It paid off, she not only sat in the steam room sans towel, she received a compliment shortly after that from a woman who said, "I'd kill for your breasts." I realize this account of the episode may sound shallow and irrelevant, but it was very meaningful to me. First, because it shows a very common concern women have...that they aren't beautiful or stunning...and are nothing compared to their friends...I mean, I know that sometimes, I am hardest on myself when I think about how beautiful and amazing my girl friends are...sometimes, I think of myself as the ugly duckling. That's why I could so relate to Charlotte and her insecurity. I know that I have features I consider less than stellar, and I know that I disregard the comforting compliments of my friends often. I frequently freak out over my lifestyle and how it effects my "trouble areas", like Charlotte, and I realize that it's maladaptive and dysfunctional and worries friends from time to time...yet, it's one of my great struggles. I'm never quite good enough. But what Carrie said to Charlotte...she might as well have been saying to me as well. And it's one of those things that I know, but I don't know know (that's some fancy womanly double speak for ya'). I don't remember it when it really counts...or in my times of crisis/trouble...Sometimes, I just need to hear it from an impartial third party...someone I know has no vested interest...no bias...but then again, I think that I wasn't really hearing it from Carrie...or Sarah Jessica Parker (the actor)...I honestly, think that those words or at least...the way they hit my ears...came from Someone who has an extremely vested in me...Someone who loves me very much...and Someone who thinks very highly of me. Hearing "The problem's not your thighs, it's your head." almost made me cry. Hearing Carrie point out Charlotte's ability to praise others but not herself...hit me so close to home...and seeing Charlotte take a chance and attempt to be comfortable in her own skin, made me cheer deep in my soul. Hearing that woman say, "I'd kill for your breasts." cheered me up remarkably. I mean, it reminded me that admiration goes both ways. Just like I see beauty in the women around me, the women around me probably see beauty in me, too. Plus, it reminded me that just like I have features I'm not crazy about. I have some that are pretty flippin' amazing!
Point is, God works in amazing ways to touch your soul and remind you that He loves you and that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. He uses the world around you, the people and things in your life, to bolster you and to love on you. I love that God reminded me of the beauty in His creation. He reminded me that everything He made is beautiful and yet unique. It's like when you go to the beach and you're picking up seashells. You can't take every shell home; so, you have to be a little bit choosy. But how do choose? I mean, I remember my own seashell hunts, picking up some that are beautiful because of the hint of red, others because of the hint of purple, others because they were so white, others because they were so shiny, or so smooth, or beautifully textured, or shaped. I mean, each one was beautiful in its own way. How could I rank them? Ultimately, it would be personal preference, not inherent beauty because each one was stunning. Even when I was picking up oyster shells (I love them because they give birth to pearls...which are my favorite!). They all have a similar shape, a similar texture, a similar color...but they are each amazing in different ways. I ended up taking home six because I just couldn't choose one. I mean, they were slightly different in the notches and the bumps and the patterns of the colors and the size and the proportions and depth...and their unique qualities made them uniquely beautiful. They were created equally beautiful but not identically beautiful. Such are women...not identical, but beautiful. Unique but equally stunning because that's how God created them to be. And ultimately, who is to say one is superior to another. In God's eyes, they're all gorgeous because He doesn't make mistakes. So, when they are ranked, each person will probably rank them differently...because beauty in the eyes of the beholder...but only in the sense that the beholder determines what is pleasing and attractive and preferable to them...but the beholder doesn't bestow beauty, that's what the Creator does...so even as we rank beauty, the beauty of ourselves, the beauty of others, we must remember that while we may not see just how amazing we are, how stunning we are, God was extravagant when He created us...and He bestowed each of us with amazing beauty to match His amazing love.
Yes, I realize I will probably continue to struggle this, but I have faith that God will keep His promise to never give up on me and never abandon me...(you know, never forsake me and all that). So, I just hope and pray that He continues to remind me of the beauty that I have and that I will continue to listen to the many ways He chooses to speak to me about it.