today's post is by my dear friend Dena. Dena is a magnificent woman with a fierce heart and an amazing way with words. i am so grateful she shared some incredible thoughts on my blog because she is a gem of a woman!! show her some love by following her on Twitter, or checking out her blog.  

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I stood in front of the mirror, critically examining every inch of my form, pulling tight the softer places, and all the while biting the inside of my cheek raw—subconsciously punishing myself for not presenting a more perfect reflection. Sadly, the punishment did not end there. I went about my days, inhabiting a hollow existence—both literally and figuratively. My body was wasting and tired, sending me constant signals begging for mercy—a reprieve from all of the mistreatment I had shown it. My spirit—my soul was empty. Now nothing but a shell remained of that girl—that once upon a time, wild, free-spirited, and beautifully disastrous girl. The girl with the muddy soles, unafraid of the dirt and grit that life presented. The girl who valued her insight, intellect, and creativity far before the physicality that encases it all.  The girl who looked in the mirror and smiled at her reflection. Yes, that girl was gone—lost somewhere untraceable along the way.

In looking back at this season of my past, I am reminded of a particular scene from the movie Mean Girls. In the movie, each young girl stands in front of a floor length mirror, ripping themselves to pieces. Finding a physical flaw and launching into a self-directed verbal assault—this, of course, being presented as perfectly normal. And sadly, for many girls, this is the norm. It certainly was for me, it certainly was for most of my friends, and it certainly is for many of the young women I know today. And it breaks my heart and tears at my soul to see this become a part of a woman’s definition. Because I know what buying in to this type of existence costs and it has taken me many years to realize that this was not a debt designed for us to pay… 

“Oh praise the One, who paid my debt, and raised this life up from the dead.”

A line from one of my favorite old hymns. And it’s steeped in such simple truth. When we allow for it, God steps in, covers our inadequacies, and transforms us in ways we never conceived possible. To put it simply, that is. At a certain point in my life, I had to relinquish control and allow God’s truth to become infinitely bigger than mine. And slowly but surely it did—and continues to do so, every single day.

I once heard this beautiful metaphor likening our relationship with the Creator, to a painting’s relationship with the artist who gave it life. For a second, imagine the most beautiful painting you’ve ever seen—an image so striking, so carefully brought to life, that it stirs your soul and moves you in a way you’ve never experienced. The painting’s impact is undeniable to those who witness it—unearthing thoughts, and words, and feelings that reflect its brilliance. Now imagine that this painting came to life in its frame and looked its maker, the artist, square in the eyes and questioned despondently, “Why did you make me this way?”. The questions turn to deeply hurtful statements—“I’m ugly”, “I hate this part of myself”….“No one will ever love me.” Turn your thoughts to the artist who spent an eternity pouring himself into this piece, loving its creation as much as its completion, delighting in the infinitely special and beautiful work of art sitting before him. How piercing the words of the painting must be to him. I can only imagine the depth of heartache the painter must feel—that his very own creation, his masterpiece, finds no joy in existence and looks so hatefully within.

And yet, is this not what we do to the one who created us? How often have I stared in that mirror and spoken those very same words? How often have you? Why are we so willing to look God in the eyes and ask why he made us just the way he did? Why are we so able to question the beauty in our existence? I know that this world doesn’t always make it easy for us to see truth—but why not question something so pervasively destructive and allow ourselves to see that surely, there is a better way? Ladies, I believe that one of God’s deepest desires for us, is that we may look in the mirror and stand in awe of the creation looking back. That we may relish in his design and see those things within that make us matchless in his sight.

My prayer is that you and I refuse to be mean girls. Girls that look in the mirror with disapproving gazes, quick to find some glaring flaw, willing to shred our spirit to pieces. Girls that are willing to assault and abuse ourselves, all for the sake of some perceived standard. Let me ease your spirit and tell you that the standard has been set—and you’ve already met it. You have from the day you were crafted, until today, and days beyond. God’s standard is masterpiece—and that, you are. We are. We have been intricately molded and created into the uniquely beautiful and irreplaceable beings that look into the mirror each morning. Let us make the conscious, daily, choice to drop this whole mean girl thing, and own our truth.

Because the truth is that you and I, we’re masterpieces.