Tag Archives: ugly

Just as Ugly as Ever

I took Sampson walking this morning. He was chasing squirrels like he always does. We got to a tree and this little tiny squirrel was right at the base of it. When he saw Sampson he started climbing up. Long story short he fell and Samson got him and started shaking the squirrel violently.  Sampson is a gentle giant and doesn’t have any aggressive or mean tendencies. However, when he had that squirrel in his mouth, he reverted back to a dog’s natural instincts and when he did, I reverted back to mine.

I enjoy watching him run squirrels and everyone else does too.  People come to the park just to watch Sampson.  He’s an older dog so I think he’ll just run them up trees so no harm is done. Not today.  When he had that squirrel shaking it for the kill, I freaked.  It wasn’t pretty.

Sampson is a rescue. We’ve had him for 4 years and when we got him, I could walk toward him with my phone in my hand and he would put his tail between his legs and run.  He was afraid of everything, even loud noises and loud voices. Obviously, he had been abused by hands he thought he could trust.  I’ve made a conscious effort not to even talk loud when he’s close because it visibly upsets him.  The first year we had him, we purposely didn’t walk toward him with anything in our hands because he was so scared.  I have never laid my hands on him for punishment but when he grabbed that squirrel I smacked him on his tail and I screamed at him.

It was only when he let go of the squirrel that I realized what I was doing.  When I snapped out of the heat of the moment, I felt terrible.  Sampson sat and looked at me with a look I’d hadn’t seen from him before.  My heart was absolutely broken.  I was so disgusted with myself and the possibility that maybe I’d undone the trust and safety it took so long to build with my companion.

This, obviously, wasn’t the first time I reverted back to my old nature and I’m sure it won’t be the last but there was something different about this morning. I saw how quickly – based on circumstances – the human flesh can revert back to what it so desperately wants to be free of – that ugly, vile “sin nature”.  We all have it and as I saw this morning, no matter how loving and “good” we want to be, our “flesh nature” will rule the moment if we act on feelings and/or circumstances.  We’re capable of anything at any given moment.  Those of us who say “I’d never…” are the most vulnerable. I didn’t want to scream at my dog. I certainly didn’t want to smack him but I did. I’d promised him and me I’d never do anything to make him fear me.  This morning I did exactly what I said I’d never do.  What I never intended to do became instinctual in that circumstance.

One second I was praising and listening to my music enjoying a beautiful sunrise and happy in the Lord and the next minute I was a monster. Just goes to show you that at any given second I can be just as ugly as I ever was, doing what I never intended to do. Never ever, ever think you ‘would never’ do something because all of us when left to the heat of the moment in a given circumstance will find we’re capable of anything.

I’ve spent years with the Lord. I know he’s changed me from the inside out. I know I’m not who I used to be but this morning I learned I can act just like I used to, given the right circumstances.

I’ve repented, asking God to forgive me as well as Sampson. He seems to not be troubled because after the incident he went after another squirrel.

I don’t like myself very much right now. I’ve seen in a very short span of time how I can be just as ugly as I ever was. Instincts (and our culture) encourage us to act based on how you feel. That’s the very thing the Lord is teaching us to get out of.  He’s teaching us to react based on what He says in ways (actions, words, thoughts) pleasing to Him and not how we’ve always done it. I thought I had mastered that a little better; this morning proved I’m capable of being just as ugly as I ever was and when left to my emotions and reacting out of fear, I’ll be that way again.

Thank you for the reminder Lord, as humiliating and ugly as it was.  I pray to keep this flesh controlled regardless of what happens. I hope you do, too.

 

1st Corinthians 10:12  “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.”

Philippians 3:13:  “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead…”

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Make Your Own Beautiful

IMAG0790I hope I’ve learned a thing or two from this season of my life.  I sure wouldn’t want to repeat it.

When things are dark and ugly sometimes we have to dig deep to find the good.  Sometimes we instantly see it but more often than not we must wait.

One of the most recent lessons is becoming so precious to me. I looked for blessings and kind of expect people to make an ugly time in my life more palatable and easier to swallow.  (Is that you I hear laughing?) I didn’t realize it at first but now I see that in addition to very tough circumstances, my disappointment worked extremely hard to make me discontented.  Then I got it.

Sometimes it’s got to be just you and God.  No one else.  No resources.  No explanations.  No Band-Aids.  Just you and Him.  I think He brought me to that place to allow me the choice to be content with Him and only Him. When everything and everyone I looked to, to make me feel more secure and content – job, home, stuff, car, people, etc,…vanished,  “Barbie, will I be enough?”  was the reverberating question on my heart.

When life gets ugly that’s where the rubber meets the road. We’re left with both decisions and changes to make.  When all you see is ugly, we can choose to make our own pretty.  Staying content in a troubling and discontented world is very hard work!  That’s when we learn to appreciate what we have and make the most of it.

I took some hand-me-down vases, some Salvation Army plates and paints I already had to make these.  I made my own beautiful.  So many stories and devotionals…so many personal lessons from God have come through the process of making them.

Trust God through the process.  That’s what I’m learning.  Trust He’s making something beautiful in you and most often when He’s through with that part, what you’ve been through will serve at least two purposes:  1) to teach you something and, 2) to bless someone else!  In the meantime, work with Him to create your own beautiful.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”   Ephesians 2:10

 

 

 

Content With Our Content?

 

I’m a MLS (that’s the new term for medical transcriptionist) – medical language specialist. I type heart monitor and pacemaker reports (to name a few).  When folks go in for checkups the doctor is able to download reports from their machinery that allows them to see if they have been compliant with their devices, how their heart is functioning and compare the symptoms they’ve written in their diaries with the function of their heart. Pretty remarkable. The downloadable content provided allows the doctor to see what needs to be done (if anything) and how to proceed with treatment.

I got to thinking about that in a spiritual sense.  If I could download the function of my “heart” I wonder what I would see? Really.  What’s inside?  How do we function when nobody’s watching?  Would the downloadable content from the inside match the actions, words and professions we make in public?

Who we really are privately is who we really are.  We can paint on faces, put on pretty clothes and say pretty words in public and be ugly in the privacy of our homes.  Who are we with God?  Are we as mercy-filled, praising with hands raised when it’s just us and Him as we are in public?  True, we can relax and let our guard down at home – that’s understandable.  But should we be schizophrenics?  Should we…are we two different people – one at home and another in public?

We have the ability to check our content.  We can ask God to expose what’s really inside us, who we really are…and deal with the things that aren’t pleasing to Him.  It’s good to review our content and certainly better to allow Him to.  We all have issues, scars and pain.  Those things can make us beautiful if we allow them to, or they can make us ugly.  The choice is ours.

The Other Side of Beautiful.

I live in a cabin that’s almost 240 years old. Oh if the walls could talk. Andrew Jackson has stood in my living room in front of this fireplace; it’s been said Daniel Boone walked across the front yard. There is all kinds of history on this property.

The cabin has (what I call) character and is a story within itself. Some look at it and see its faults and everything that needs to be fixed but I see the beautiful. It does need work and on the side where nobody can see the beginnings of renovation is taking place. From the visible side, it looks much better.

The side you can’t see shows what it’s been through. If you choose to see that side, you have to walk around to where you can. Nobody sees it unless they make the effort to see it.

We’re much like this historical cabin. We all have a side we don’t show (or try not to) to the world. We choose to let others see our beautiful, our socially acceptable, try-to-fit-in-and-be-good self; the everything-is-fine-and-I-love-life self. The majority only care about that side of us; few ever venture “around the house” to see the other less exposed side, the self we work so hard to hide.

If you’ve lived a few years, you’ve weathered some storms and if others look close enough, they can see it. You’ve been hurt, wounded, made some mistakes and have the scars and marks to prove it. Everyone has another side of beautiful. Everyone. Everyone has a side they don’t really want others to see. Some, though, can’t help but show it. They’re the ones we see on the streets with no place to call home, no resources and no people supporting them. We try not to look because we want to see beautiful; we want someone else to help them. Those closest to you – just like you – have a side that is less than beautiful. We all have a side we would just as soon not show.

Look at them the next time you can. LOOK at the people with you in the checkout line at the store. LOOK at them and pray for them. Ask God for opportunities to smile at them and look them in the eye and ways to help. They’re beautiful too! Others you’re exposed to have deep places and fears they don’t share with anyone. They may need a positive, encouraging word or smile to let them know they’re not alone and they are loved, ugly and all.

God loves us despite of and IN spite of our ugly. He KNOWS our other side of beautiful and has chosen to love us anyway! He wants to touch our ugly and heal us. He wants to do a major renovation in us and He will if we let him. He will even use our other side to encourage someone else if we’ll let Him.

The next time you’re seeing beautiful in others and places think about what you don’t see. Be thankful for the beautiful and pray God is allowed to touch the other side and make it beautiful too.

Allowing the Artist to Work.

To the unknowing eye, the room looks like it’s filled with all kinds of useless junk. To the one who uses it to craft, every piece has a purpose. He knows just why it’s been preserved and how it will be used.

He takes what’s broken, discarded, unwanted and useless (to me) and begins to work. Like an artist with a blank canvas, he creates something out of nothing; he makes beautiful what was ugly. When he’s finished it no longer resembles what it once was. Of course, you never thought the throwaway stuff was worth anything so you tossed it. You’re amazed! You marvel at the creativity of the craftsman. He gives his finished work to you to do with what you please. So you take it home and for awhile it’s displayed proudly as the original he created just for you. Then you get new things to decorate with and eventually the masterpiece is tucked away and forgotten.

I’ve done this lots of times. A treasure becomes just another thing; it doesn’t fit anymore so I put it away and soon it’s forgotten. This is a perfect analogy of our walk with God. When He’s “new” to us, we display and proclaim everything He’s done to anyone we can. We show Him off and He’s our main topic of conversation for a while until the new becomes old and He’s tucked away only to be brought out when we need something or something bad happens.

Let’s go to our storage rooms and open some boxes. Let’s pull out the stuff we no longer want or the things too painful to want to remember. Let’s expose them to our Master Artist. Let’s not only expose them; let’s give them to Him…all our junk, our buried and forgotten messes and give Him the room to work. If you have as much junk as I do, it will take some time. Let’s give Him free reign and all the time He needs to work. Let’s let Him craft us, restoring and healing all the stuff we’ve tucked away, hidden and don’t want to deal with. Over time, you’ll be amazed at what He does with it. Don’t give Him instructions! He’s the Master Craftsman. Trust Him. He knows what He’s doing.

Now look at the finished product and have eyes to see how beautiful and unique the treasure He has created is…just for you! While you admire His work and are thankful for it, don’t miss the fact that it’s yours to do with as you please. Will you display it? Will you tell your friends to come and see it? Will you tuck it away in a place and go look at it once in a while? Or, will you look at it later when you have more time?

Display Christ in your life for all to see. When you think of Him remember everything He’s done for you. Tell others this Artist will create for them what He has for you…a new creature. When He’s finished with what they give Him, the mess won’t be recognized. That’s His mantra, you know, making lovely things from our brokenness and baggage. No one does it better…if we let Him work.