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Beauty for Ash's : Identity in Christ

This is Asher. He is beautiful. He is our third born son and he has a dazzling personality. He's never met a stranger-- he's interesting and funny even to adults, animals and babies find safe harbor in his arms and everyone I know considers him a friend-- even our mail lady. The Lord blessed him with sage green eyes, golden brown skin and the sweetest smile-- it erupts from the genuine goodness of his nurturing heart. He listens sincerely, he talks without taking a breath and his free hugs are in endless supply. Ash's love is vast and wide and inclusive and it has repeatedly found me on my darkest days.

Our mirrors often tell us egregious lies...

As a woman, do you ever feel like you crush it during the day, but somehow over night you disintegrate, erode, implode, discombobulate and generally turn into a crusty, disheveled ogre? My husband looks the same whether his princely head is laying on a pillow or waltzing into a staff meeting, but not me! I go to sleep looking decent, but every morning I have to push back the decay! My hair is wildly unkempt, my razor has a field day, and my skin demands coconut oils, sea-kelp serums and aggressive layers of Bare Minerals just to make it back to the land of the living! The sun rises and the routines begin again-- the tonics and tinctures, the vitamins and kombuchas, the stretches and breath work, the concealer and mascara and bronzer and blush. My husband grows ever more "distinguished," while I'm discovering new sags and bags. It can really bum you out!

Even more so, it can derail your peace and cause you to dwell in places that pick at your confidence and disparage your self-worth. Our mirrors very often tell us egregious lies, but what really matters is found deep within. Our identity must be found in Christ. "Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

He will give you a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. --Isaiah 61:3

We're promised beauty for ashes because this same erosion is happening in our souls. We need a Savior. We need someone who can fix all the ugly. When vanity takes supremacy over spiritual beauty, turn to the truth. The Word of God is replete with affirmations about who we really are and what actually matters.

You're altogether beautiful, My Darling. There is no flaw in you. --Song of Solomon 4:7

When you're feeling fragile, turn off media and listen to the voices in your world that give encouragement and honesty-- a mentor, a sibling, a spouse, a friend, a devotional. Perhaps like me, you'll find that out of the mouths of babes comes the most searing and yet empowering truths.

Nearly all my life lessons lately have been handed to me by one of my four boys. The honesty they share comes with impeccable timing. If you want the unadulterated truth, you ask Ashy Smashy. He’ll tell you what he really thinks. Good dinner, bad dinner. Nice outfit, clown suit. Cool shoes, don't-ever-wear-those-again shoes. You get the idea. He doesn’t mince words.

One night at bedtime, he’s hunkered down all cozy and sweet in his blankets and as I lean in, his spindly arms reach up to stroke my face with all the gentleness he can muster. It’s such a tender moment. I can see his hazel eyes studying me in the darkness and I smile back. Suddenly, he encircles me in a tight hug and he whispers in my ear, “Mommy, I think you’re prettier than other mommies (*sigh, heart melts), but you would look so so bad without any hair.” Truth bomb. Inward chuckle. I can take it. I trust his words because I know how much he loves me.

Asher, you make me feel valuable. You always choose me— given the option of fun and games, you’ll always pick errands with Mom. “I’ll just watch you do boring things on your computer, Mommy.” And you would. You never make me feel like I need to be different, extravagant, exciting. Just simple me is enough for you. Being together is all you ask, to hold hands, to chat, to share a moment in time. It doesn’t need to be lavish. You never take a better offer. In a world that hurries past, you seem to stand still. When no one else is listening, you hear my voice, you look in my eyes, you pay attention. Your love is singular. You really don't care what I look like. I am your favorite no matter what. You show me a piece of the Father and teach me how to be more intentional. How is it that you, this little man, will stroke my cheek when I am sad or hold my hand when I am lonely? If I’m crying, you notice. If I’m dancing, you’re the first one in. Your love is ferocious, Ash Crash. Your heart is thoughtful. Your person is beautiful. Your life is a gift.

For years now, every time I leave his presence, Asher will clamber after me and say “Think of me and say your prayers!!!” 55 times at bedtime, in the morning, when you shower, if you run an errand... if you so much as step outside to get the mail, he’ll hug you tight and proffer this reminder just as fervently as the first time he said it. Initially it was cute and then it felt excessive, like “yah yah, I get it. Let me move on with my day. I’m thinking of you. And saying my prayers.” But I wasn’t always. His words were profound, but I wasn’t listening. It took me a minute. The Father was speaking.

It’s become such a beautiful picture of the Lord for me, constantly beckoning my thoughts to return, persistently urging me to meet with Him in prayer. I Thessalonians says pray without ceasing. But I forget. I am blessed to have a little magpie that points me heavenward 73 times a day. “Think of Me and say your prayers... think of Me and say your prayers... think of Me... think of Me... think of Me... Come back. Dwell. Remain. Renew your mind. Find your worth. Look into the mirror of My Word. Focus on My beauty. Dwell. Remain. Think of Me. Think of Me and say your prayers. I will give you beauty for ashes."

And in my case, a beautiful Asher, too.

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple. Psalm 27:4

Many blessings to you all!! I always pray your hearts are encouraged as you dive deeper into your faith and into devotional content. Please share this post with someone who might be feeling low in their self-worth as they grapple with aging, appearance and identity in this selfie culture.

Love, Tara

Watch my latest video about the different beauties of the Bible-- Eve, Sarah, Rachel and Leah, Miriam, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Deborah. In less than 5 minutes, you'll learn 7 powerful life lessons! Leave a comment and let me know who you most identiy with in their struggles or their strengths.

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