I love makeup. Granted, I don’t wear eight layers of purple eyeshadow like some people, but I also rarely leave the house without a few products carefully applied. On my trip to Guatemala I wore makeup every day, despite the fact that I had to share one mirror with 12 people. I would wake up early before everyone else to do my hair and my face and of course noticed all of the reactions of the men. Harvey would smile and tell me it was so nice to see me first thing every morning. He was the polite one. My friend Josh, on the other hand, always felt the need to remind me in a sarcastic tone that we were “in Guatemala, Brooke!”. Eric would just stand behind me shaking his head, totally perplexed at the amount of beauty devices and products strewn all over the floor in front of the sink and the amount of time it took me to complete my morning project. Of course by the end of the day, after hiking through jungles, and getting all sweaty, it wasn’t even clear if I had put makeup on that morning. By then, the heat had caused it to dissolve into my pores. So what was the point, anyway?
I once heard that makeup is a form of “spiritual warfare”. Not totally sure how I feel about that statement but I get where they were coming from. It does make me feel prettier, more confident, more… whatever. But I also wonder if my need for it is just a symptom of this ache in my heart that I am “not enough”. I think a lot of girls feel that way and I think it’s a sad, universal lie from the enemy.
During my internship with Fire in the Night at IHOP, our leaders sat us down and talked to us about our obsession with having to look perfect all the time. Some of us *ahem* would find ourselves wandering to the bathroom during our six hours in the prayer room, making sure our hair wasn’t stuck to the sides of our head or that we didn’t have mascara dribbles clinging to our faces from our crying sessions with Jesus. And maybe a few of us *cough* COMPLETELY retouched our makeup because we just wanted to look pretty. But the truth was, we were distracted by our own appearance. We wanted to be valued and we assumed our physical appearance was going to make that happen.
The truth is, I have pretty good skin. Pale skin that could use a little color every-once-in-awhile, but good, healthy skin. I don’t really need a lot of mascara either, yet I slap it on every morning. I wonder what it would feel like to walk around for an entire day around friends and hot guys and not worry about how pasty my skin is or if my eyes look bright enough. I understand the whole physical attraction thing. We want to look nice and not like a bunch of slobs but honestly, I sometimes wish I would work as hard at what’s going on in my heart as I do with trying to look hot, myself. I think the expectation for some of us girls is that physical beauty is more important by leaps and bounds than having a beautiful heart. That this is the only thing that’s going to get a guys’ attention.
Maybe some guys only care about how gorgeous we are but I think I’ve realized at 33 that I don’t really want a guy that only cares about that. I love Jesus. I’m passionate about Him. I’m funny. I love people. I’m a little feisty but that’s hot too, right? I want a guy who has those kinds of qualities too. Definitely, the most important thing to remember is that our value doesn’t come from what some dude thinks about us. Okay. So maybe it comes from ONE Dude. Yeah, you know His name. I know this is probably something you know in your head but maybe it hasn’t hit your heart yet (I know it hasn’t really hit mine). He values us. He pursues us. He thinks we are beautiful, ladies. I think when we really start believing this and we realize how truly wonderful this is, it becomes a part of us… it can be seen on our faces just like our creamy peach blush. And that kind of beauty is not going to compare to the hours we spend in front of the mirror.
*Disclaimer* This post is not directed toward any particular dude and I do understand that there are men who do not behave in this way and are also responsible, respectful guys. FYI
I recently came across THIS ARTICLE by a writer for CNN. Take a minute to read the entire thing… right now…
I’m still waiting….
Are you finished? Okay.
I have thought a lot before I began to write this blog. I don’t want this to be a bitter rant against men. I love men. I really do. I have lots of men that are friends and I thoroughly enjoy hanging out with them. But oh my word… I would really like to see some things change. Sure, we women have enough of our own problems but this article isn’t about that… I’ve written enough blogs describing the wound women have to “need” men in their lives. So I’m just coming straight out with it… men… we need you to “man up”. For real.
- Stop flirting with girls to feed your ego, leading them on and then not following through with anything. STOP IT.
- Don’t ask a girl out unless you actually want to get married in the future. If you don’t want to ever get married, then don’t ask her out because trust me… she’s gonna want to tie the knot some day. Which leads me to the next point:
- Stop the crap about not wanting to get married. You’re either lying because you are insecure, you’re being selfish, or you are simply scared out of your mind. Get over yourself. Please.
- Stop communicating to girls strictly through text, email, and Facebook chat. AT LEAST give the girl a call. Better yet, why don’t you call her up and actually ask her to hang out (like in person… not over Skype)? If you want to be friends first, I think that is perfectly fine. I prefer that… but seriously. You’re not thirteen. It’s okay to be in the same room with the girl and speak with her face to face.
- It’s not the end of the world if we say no. Ask us out anyway. Take a risk. These days, I have to tell you that the fact that you actually had the nerve to ask us out is incredibly attractive in itself. Courage is absolutely the hottest characteristic in a man.
The original purpose of marriage is to reflect the relationship between the Bridegroom God and His bride (the church). Maybe some of you don’t really understand the heart of God towards His bride… maybe that’s why you don’t quite know how to treat a woman. But let me tell you something: God PURSUES his Bride. He thinks His bride is incredibly precious… so precious in fact that He sacrificed His own Son for her. God created a need inside of women to know that we are worth something, to be valued by both men and God. So when you talk about a woman being “needy”… it’s actually true. We need to know that we are worth more than your X BOX, your $3,000 guitar, your ministry, your car, your ego and even your reputation. Marriage, is in essence, one of the most beautiful covenant acts you can undertake. If you want to demonstrate the love of Christ to others, start by demonstrating it in how you pursue women and treat them with respect and dignity.
Now, I realize that there are deeper issues here than what we see on the surface. There has been a extreme lack of fathering in the church. Many men my age have not had great demonstrations of fatherly love in their lives. This hurts my heart and for this reason, I do have a lot of compassion for them. But that doesn’t mean that things are impossible. Why? Because they have a Father who is proudly waiting for His sons to step forward in this area. Whether they realize it or not, He is cheering them on, calling them to be a reflection of Himself– the Pursuer. He is putting supernatural courage in their hearts, revealing to them their true identities as royal men, sons of a King. He is showing them their worth and value… their destinies and callings as righteous men of God who lead with strength and love. And we ladies believe this is in you too. We haven’t given up on you. We know what you are capable of and we see that strength already inside of you, waiting to come out.
If I sounded harsh, that actually was my intention. Very few have been hard enough on you guys. But that’s only because I know you can do this. I believe in you and so does your Father.
I’m under no delusions that I’m going to be the perfect spouse/girlfriend/whatever. I know I have issues and that what I really deserve, like the rest of you, is hell… not a perfect man (do those even exist, anyway?). But that’s a whole other topic. I’ll be honest with you– the whole guy/girl thing hasn’t worked out well for me in the past. In fact, this poet’s description of her own past relationships sounds a bit similar to my own. Ouch, ouch and more ouch.
I’ve responded to these situations with a lot of bitterness. It’s difficult, after you’ve given your heart to someone, to spring back up after a major pounding and walk away unscathed. In the past I’ve responded to these situations by being critical toward those that have broken my heart. In truth, some of them probably deserved it, but as I was reflecting today I can look back on a few of these situations and see that God was working on the hearts of these guys just as much as he was working on my own at the same time. And just as I have flaws and imperfections, it is right to acknowledge that it is not possible for them to be perfect either. But the hurt still remains. And there are days that I don’t really know what to do with it.
The spoken word poem in the video above had me thinking alot this morning. Thinking about how, with myself, there are certain things that I am going to have to change with regard to this area. In myself:
- Remembering that my heart primarily belongs to Jesus until he’s ready to ‘put a ring on it’.
- Enjoying my friendships with BOTH genders and learning to have fun without stressing out about dumb boy stuff all the time
- Being patient enough to wait for the right one to be ready himself and not getting ‘irked’ with him when he isn’t
So my ex-boyfriend emailed me on Facebook the other day. He rarely goes on Facebook but a couple of weeks ago decided to make a surprise visit and initiate a little bit of a chat. I hadn’t had any communication with him for over three years. It felt fine talking to him. We only talked for about twenty minutes and it was mostly catch-up stuff. I didn’t feel any tug on my heart or anything emotional whatsover. Well this weekend he sends me an email. It seemed perfectly innocent and just might be perfectly innocent but I decided not to respond. In fact, I thought maybe… just maybe I should delete him completely from my Facebook friends list. Why would I do that if everything seemed perfectly innocent? Because our hearts are easily deceived. I, at one time, had an emotional connection with this person… it, was one of the few romantic relationships I’ve had where I actually felt loved and valued. We had very legitimate reasons to break up and I’m not sad that we did but any time your heart has been involved, trouble usually follows.
Our hearts are so deceptive. If we do not let go of emotionally-tied relationships from the past we will remain stuck in the same place and unknowingly halt any forward movement in our lives… including spiritual growth and relationship growth. Sentimentality is not all that it’s cracked up to be. Objects, pictures and other paraphanalia from our past are signs (big ones) that we have not let go of emotional ties. I don’t normally hold onto anything that exes have given me (and I don’t have a lot of exes) but I still own a painting from this particular guy (who is an up and coming artist in Dallas). I know, even though I enjoy this piece of art, that I should probably ebay it simply because there is no need to for me to remember him every time I see the painting.
I have thought a lot about past relationships recently because I am finding that they have influenced my reaction to others far more than I thought they did. I realized that there is one particular ex who I thought I had forgiven, but in reality, all of the evidence points to the fact that I have not forgiven him much at all. It has been seven years since the ending of that relationship and I thought that I was totally healed from everything that happened to me during that time period but mistrust and fear have once again begun to rule my life. It is probably one of the most frustrating experiences to realize that we are still in pain after seven years of wanting and contending so much for our hearts to be healed and finding ourselves back in the same place with our hearts still locked up. The worst part is that you don’t feel like anyone understands how this could happen. How could anyone still have serious trust issues after seven years? I simply don’t know how to answer that. Believe me when I tell you that I wish I had the answers. I wish I didn’t act like a maniac about everything. I wish I didn’t live in constant fear of getting hurt.
Last night the Lord spoke to me about moving forward with Him. I don’t really know what that looks like, only to say that I think it means to not give up- to fight for this “thing” in my heart to be healed… to fight to forgive and move on and not allow someone else unknowingly control my life in this way.
Two years ago I had a dream.
I was running to the train station to meet a friend. As I sprinted across the tracks I saw a massive, powerful train blazing forward. I thought for sure this was the train that my friend was on and I raced toward the train even as it failed to slow down. Just in time, I noticed the train would hurt me and before I was crushed to death I spun out of the way, realizing that it contained betrayal, manipulation, control and abuse.
The next train was not as impressive, but still, I thought for sure this would be “the one”. It was moving fast as well but as I stepped closer to the train, I noticed that the train was full of passivity and disrespect. I moved out of the way just in time.
I decided after the second fiasco that it was better to go wait at the train station than to risk running recklessly across the train tracks looking for my friend. So I positioned myself in a safe place and saw in the distance… the last train. It was moving more slowly but there was peace hovering around it. I waited patiently and the train eventually pulled to a stop where I stood expectantly outside the door, waiting for my friend to get off.
I realize that I have come to a point where though I wish I hadn’t made the mistakes I have made, I have been given an opportunity to share the wisdom I have learned with young women.
We as women, because of our vulnerable hearts, are easy targets for bad relationships. In my own experience, I have turned a blind eye to many “red flags” and turned away from wisdom because I didn’t remember how deceitful my heart was. The Word of God is a useful tool in discernment regarding relationships: “Love is patient, love is kind, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13.
This week I had an opportunity to make a comparison. (Before you jump to conclusions, I am NOT dating anyone nor do I believe that anyone is in love with me– based on the verse above… nor am I in love with anyone. Blogs are how rumors get started.) The first person, though we have been friends for awhile (on and off) and have sort of an awkward history, I noticed, rather annoyingly this week that I was feeling manipulated by this person. I noticed that this person had indeed not been kind, dishonored me, had only thought of himself, had not protected me (though at that point I had been over our awkward history for a year) and certainly had not persevered by pursuing me in a godly way… and he suddenly wants to reconcile his behavior two months before I leave the state. How convenient for him.
The second person? Well, I’m not ready to say anything too specific but I have observed, so far as I can tell, kindness, patience, humility, and most importantly the protection of my heart as a brother in Christ. Because this friend demonstrated these qualities to me, I was able to recognize the deception (easily) in the other friendship.
Another truth that has struck my heart recently is the need for longing in my relationship with Jesus. This year has been one of the most fruitful, giddy-in-love years of my life. It has been an extremely dry season in regard to romantic relationships but in that, I have discovered my need for Jesus far out-weighs my angst with boys.
The truth is, a healthy romantic relationship is IMPOSSIBLE without truly giving our hearts to Jesus first. I personally believe it’s so important for young women, especially teenage girls (and guys for that matter) to give a few years getting to know the Man Jesus before walking into a relationship. Jesus needs to be the standard that we should be looking for in a dude and without knowing what that standard looks like, without knowing His heart, it is virtually impossible to recognize these qualities in someone else AS WELL AS obtaining these own qualities in ourselves.
A guy friend of mine gave me a handy quote tonight. He said “girls build up walls so guys can tear them down.” It sounds so simple but to me it’s rather profound. It makes sense, right? Boys may feel scared about attempting to tear down the walls girls build up but in the end, when the walls come crashing to the ground, they are pretty pleased with themselves at what they have accomplished.