our external flaws

by Sharon L. Reidenbach

A New Year! Hopefully we’ll get it right - this time. And the advertisers are itching to bombard us with how to change, and fix what they tell us are our external flaws. Sadly, our motivations become altered to believe, “If I comply and impress people, (even God), I’ll be liked, loved, and measure up to everyone’s expectations.”

We’ve experienced this treadmill before: framing our life around others, living their definition of complete perfection. The following tale illustrates the point.

A little boy lost his mother while they shopped at the open market. “What does she look like?” The village peopled asked.

“She’s the most beautiful, and smells good,” the boy replied.

Beautiful, good smelling, moms came to the boy. “No, no, no,” he exclaimed.

Then a short lady with a kerchief tied on her head, and an apron around her ample waist ran into town-square. “Ralph? Has anybody seen my Ralph?” she cried.

“Mama!” the boy yelled. She picked him up, burying him with hugs. “Oh, mama, you smell so good.”

His mama wasn’t glamorous, or reeked with perfume. Her warmth, and love, radiated the beauty. And she smelled like fresh baked bread.
When the little boy described his mom, whose measuring stick did we use? The worlds, friends, family, job associates, even the churches?

It’s good to make changes, join a fitness club, diet, set higher goals. But filling guilty over unmet, unrealistic efforts can drain our spirits, emotions, and health. The results are feelings of envy, self-pity, despair, helplessness, self-put-downs, discontent, worry, sadness, and other abusive behaviors.

Christ liberated us from believing in other people’s expectations. He gave us life, just as we were - no strings attached, when we accepted Him, and what He provided on the cross: forgiveness and eternal life. (John 3:16).

It’s not by our physique, what we do, or credentials that makes us whole. We’re complete through Christ: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away;” (11 Corinthians 5:17, NKJV).

God warned Samuel when looking for the man to replace Saul, “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). And those traits?: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. Against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Did the mama feel offended by the town’s definition of beauty and success? The story ends showing she lived contended and happy.

And this New Year we can, too by remembering what Isaiah said in 53:2 “He [Jesus] had no form or majesty that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him.” Jesus owned nothing, and had no degrees. Yet He changed the world! With a new Measuring Stick etched with the Fruits of the Spirit we can now live as God designed. What liberty, what freedom. Happy New Year!