My Physical Appearance < Quality of My Heart

When you look at yourself in the mirror what do you say about yourself?

“Oh, Lisa, you’re acne scars/blemishes are so noticeable–ew!  Why is your nose so big?  Aw, I wish I had smaller hips.”

Learning to be comfortable with ourselves and our bodies is not an easy thing to do when we’re influenced by social media, our friends and family, and pretty much the world that we need to look better–whatever what that means.

Most of the time this is related to women, but many men also struggle with their self-image also.  I can testify that I struggled to be content with how I look like.  Most of the time I do not even realize that I put myself down because it had become something I did daily.  Isn’t that crazy?  I would put myself down every time I saw another person, in particular a woman, with thinner legs or when I noticed that someone did not struggle with a lot of acne like me.  I kept believing in the lies that I was never enough and that I could never be enough.

It was around this time last year (August 2016) when the Lord convicted me of my self-talk and how I saw my body.  My comments I had in my head or in front of the mirror did not align with the truth that I proclaimed to believe in.  Little did I know that throughout this past year, God was working in my heart to see my body as beautiful and to not be ashamed about what is on or not on my body.  In addition, I also reflected on my overall appearance: make-up and attire.

Make-Up

I was not into make-up during high school.  I explored it during middle school, but I got tired of it and I wanted to embrace my natural self.  I told myself that I would not wear make-up until I became comfortable with my natural beauty.  I realized that many girls would use make-up to hide themselves.  I did not like that because it meant that girls were pretty much denying themselves and how they were created.  (I am surprised that I had this thought as a middle “school-er”!)  I had the mindset that “You don’t need make-up to be beautiful.” I still agree with that.  I did not begin to wear make-up until after my first semester as a freshman in college.  I had a lot to learn about make-up!  Besides that, I am proud that I took about four-and-a-half years to just be my natural self.  I have a lot of acne so you can only imagine the mornings and nights I would stare at the mirror and wish that I could just have clear skin!  Eventually, I started to not care about how my skin looked.

The reason why I decided to wear make-up was mainly due to curiosity.  I started to learn about the different types of products!  Wow, is it an investment!  I started to not have a negative perspective on make-up.  I learned that it is not bad to wear make-up to enhance specific features or to want to look nice.  Wearing make-up actually made me admire my natural side more.  When I began doing my make-up, I started to notice the small things on my face and then it “hit” me: God thought of these small things when He created me.  I was able to admire the way God made me.  If I did not wear make-up and went on with my former thoughts, then I would have never took the time to look at the small features on my face and be where I am at now: to love my facial features (and body) for the way it was created.

Before I decided to buy some of my first make-up products when I wanted to wear make-up again, I told myself I wanted to still to be comfortable with myself even without make-up on.  I am so glad that I can go out my door without any make-up on.  Most of the time, especially during the school year, I choose to wear make-up daily and to special occasions.  In addition, I can still make a grocery run or go in public without any make-up​ on.  I think this is where all woman or men who wear make-up should be at.

Attire

I really enjoy shopping for clothes and to dress up!  It is so fun!  Many people will think I dress up for attention, particularly from guys, but I do not see it that way. I dress up because it brings me joy and I see it as a way to take care of myself.  Dressing up also prepares me for my day since sometimes my days do not end until 10pm during the school year!  I feel good and prepared in a nice outfit and confident in some good shoes!

So, when I go shopping, I always look for the small and medium sections because I am able to float between those sizes depending on the brand on the clothes.  I will be honest with you and share that I get afraid when I have to look for a size bigger, especially when it comes to jeans!  I have bigger hips and thighs, so I already have to get larger sizes than most of my friends.  When I try on clothes or find myself in front of a mirror, I critique my body.  Most of the time I am telling myself “I wish this and that”.  I would listen to a lot of the lies in my head and then tell myself I need to eat less of something and that I need to work out more.

I am glad that I can say that I do not care too much about my diet, my exercise schedule, or what size I am.  I still make sure I eat nutritious food and allow myself to splurge on something sweet and yummy quite often!  I am patient with myself when I go work out.  I am quite inconsistent on how often I go to workout.  When I do workout, I do not push my body too much but challenge it just enough to do better than I last worked out.  Lastly, I have come to peace about the size of clothing I have to shop for.

Despite my desire to want to look nice, at the end of the day it is about the appearance of our heart that matters.  God does not condemn or get angry at me for putting make-up on, doing my hair, or putting on something cute.  He has given me the freedom to do so, but I must be aware that my physical appearance is not what matters at the end of the day and that it is my heart that does.  So, as much as I take care of my physical self, I want to take better care of myself spiritually.
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.  Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
— 1 Peter 3:3-4

So, as I embark on another school year, I want to commit to only saying positive comments about my body.  I will rebuke any lies that will try to make me believe any negativity.  Most importantly, I am going to make it a priority to examine my heart so that whatever is flowing from it is good and pleasing to the Lord.  I want to invite God to continue His good work in my heart.

I do not share this area of my life journey to boast about myself and my achievements, but to testify that God is alive and at work in the hearts and lives of those who choose to follow and remain faithful to Him.  Personally, I would not choose to work on this area in my life, but it mattered so much to God that in the midst of my other “heart work” that He sent individuals and truth my way so that I can believe that my body is not ugly or disgusting.  I am wonderfully and beautifully made simply because God loves me so much (Psalm 139:13-14).  I want to live a lifestyle that honors the way that God created me.

So, I will ask you again: When you look at yourself in the mirror what do you say about yourself?

“Hello, gorgeous!”

 

1, 2, 3, GO!

Work is not work if you love what you do.  Lately, I have been working on a number of things preparing for another school year.  As I compiled my to-do list and began checking the boxes, I realized how I lost track of the time and made my blanket all wrinkly!  Even though I may have had a bad posture and I forgot to consume some water, I loved the variety of things I was doing because of my roles as an Assistant Resident Director (ARD) and president of Asian Student Fellowship (ASF).

I am happy that I have found my niche on campus and, most importantly, I am so glad that the roles that I am in I am passionate about the work that I do.  I hope and pray that I do not lose sight of that and that I will continue to serve others with a joyful heart.

L-O-V-E

Love is complex.  I am guilty of trying to describe it but every time that I do I fail to put words together to even begin to touch the surface of it.  Love has no limits and cannot be contained.  Lately, I have been thinking about the love between parents and their child(ren), an aunt and nephew/niece, siblings, friends, mentors, colleagues, etc.  Each time that I reflect on those relationships and the love that is (and is not) embedded in them, I always find myself at the core of my love for God and, most importantly, His love for me.  An indescribable Love surrounds me and there are no words to describe the intense ache of love in my heart.  Love is not just a feeling but it can be felt, and it is the experience of Love that has captivated my days:

“It’s extravagant, it doesn’t make sense.  We’ll never comprehend the way You love us.  It’s unthinkable, only Heaven knows just how far You’d go to say you Love us” (Extravagant, Bethel Music).

Despite what I have done wrong and the adversity in my life, God still shows His love.  There have been so many times I asked, “Why God?  Why do you still love me and show goodness to me?  How can it be…ah, it just doesn’t make sense.”  Then there is a part of me that says, “Lisa, you already know.  That is who He is; it is His nature.”

—-

Another kind of love that I have been thinking a lot about that I did not mention above and implementing is self-love.  It is not selfish to love yourself and to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally (all of the -ally’s).  It becomes selfish when that is all you take care of.  I believe that in order for me to love others well then it requires me to love myself too.

I am still learning on what it means to love myself but from what I know it is a beautiful thing.  It requires of me to get to know myself, to connect with my inner child, and to respond gently to my needs.  So, loving myself can be small like wiping my own tears, singing a phrase over myself, or having a cold cup of soy milk.  Loving myself can be going alone on an adventure and finding solace in the gentle breeze that slides by.  Loving myself can be putting on music or it can be turning off the music and wi-fi.  Loving myself can be when I am wrapped in my favorite blanket sitting alone and surrounded by my green plants.

Take the time to love yourself a little extra today.  It is a wonderful thing, my friend.

Ownership

I have said it before, and I have to say it again.  It is not easy.  In this (or my) case, it is not easy to admit your own faults and mistakes to God, to your loved ones, and even to yourself.  This mistake is not like when I double-booked a lunch “date” with friends or when I overslept when I had a six o’clock appointment.  It is a matter of compromising my values and integrity.

These past few weeks I have been very intentional about confessing and reflecting on a mistake–something I knew should not have been done but I somehow convinced myself it was okay.  This process has taught me so much.  I never thought that processing my mistake would take me where I am at now, and I believe I am not even at my destination yet.  God has more to reveal to me.

Usually when we make a mistake or sin, one of the first things we feel after the act is done is shame and guilt.  For me, I had a lot of emotions flowing at once so it was quite messy to break it down but shame was definitely in the mix.  There was also sadness, disappointment, confusion, and I have to admit there was even enjoyment.  I acknowledge all of these emotions because each emotion is important to the process of healing and moving on.  When I was moving past from feeling shame and guilt, a friend reminded me of this wonderful truth:

“My prayer is that you are able to walk alongside God with this and not feel any guilt or shame but walk freely, knowing WHO YOU ARE as God’s child. As children of God, we do not walk with shame and guilt. That is not who we were made to be and God does not want that for us. What, then, would be the purpose of the death of Jesus? Wouldn’t it all be in vain? Jesus already paid of all of our sin on the cross, so if we ever feel guilty, we need to bring it back to the cross, right where it was already paid for. God has the power to redeem and restore us, therefore I do not doubt or lose hope. Lisa, I share this with you because I know you feel shame and guilt, but Jesus does not want you to be chained down to them anymore. It may take time until you are really released from it, but I know you are well on your way there.”

What struck me the most was the fact that I was reminded that I am a child of God–His daughter.  Honestly, I forgot about that because I was so consumed with the shame and guilt.  That, my friend, is satan’s goal.  However, if we call God our Father, Christ our Savior, and believe that the Holy Spirit is alive in us, then we must never forget our identity as children of God.  I hope that this encouragement and prayer from my friend gives you hope and a reminder of who you are, regardless if you are carrying any shame or not.

I am so glad I can say that I am no longer carrying any shame or guilt.  I also do not feel any confusion; however, I think I will always feel some shade of self disappointment and enjoyment about this particular situation.

When I confessed this mistake to people that I care about, I was sad that I will disappointment them.  Even though they may have been disappointed in the circumstance and my decision, their overflowing love, kindness, acceptance, and grace comforted me so much.  There was not an ounce of judgement that came my way.  I am so grateful for encouraging and loving individuals who still love me.   That, my friend, is God’s love being displayed in others.  It took me a while to finally confess to God even though I knew He knew the situation so much better than I did.  There is still importance and value to confessing my sin to Him though.  It was a big step into my ownership of my mistake and sin.  It was a big step into this journey with God.  Oh my, it has been so time-consuming and quite challenging yet so beautiful.

I realized that I would put myself at the same level as God–how could I?  I realized that I am not near to God’s level.  As I took steps onto this journey, God first showed me that I am not the great person others think that I am or even the great person I think I am.  He was not degrading me at all because that is not what He does, but He first showed me of my skewed perception of Him.  God is far greater than we think He is.  I am so grateful for this because it broke my images that I have tried to live up to because of what others have said about me and it forced me to accept who I am: someone who needs God.  It is one thing to know that we need God, but it is another to actually believe and allow God to give us what we need.

It is one thing to know that we need God, but it is another to actually believe and allow God to give us what we need.

This mistake is not something I am not too proud of because it has caused a lot of confusion and hurt, but it has derailed me to see so much love (from others and God) and has given me a new perspective and rewarding journey with God.

It is quite difficult for us to admit our wrongs.  It may be our pride, ego, selfishness, etc.  Whatever it is, it does not feel good to admit a fault.  Our stomach churns and we will stumble on our words and feel faint until we say it aloud.  Regardless of these very uncomfortable feelings, I have found that it is quite lovely and satisfying to take ownership of our faults.  So far, it has made me accept myself so much more and lean into God’s embrace so much deeper.

If you go to my About page on this blog, you will read the purpose of this blog:

My blog, Always a Daughter of God,  is a result of my passion and enjoyment to encourage you, and even myself.  So, lets taste, love, and encourage together.  Most importantly, I hope that you will join me to keep seeking what it means to be a child of God and to run after the heart of God, no matter what our circumstances are in life.

This process that I decided to partake on with God has given me a wider glimpse of what it means to be a child of God…and I just made that connection as I was writing this blog post.  (Ah, I love it when I type and God reveals something cool to me!!)  I learned that being a child of God does not mean I need to be all put together but that I can depend on my Creator to show me why He put me together and to put me back together.  I knew this with my head knowledge, but this time it sunk in deep in my heart.

This blog post is not meant to bring any light on me about how “good” I am because I think I explained why I am not above.  I pray and hope that this is a message and encouragement to you that no matter what mistake or sin you have done you are still worthy in the eyes of the Lord and that He still loves you despite anything that you have done wrong.  He does not condemn you nor judge you because He is pouring His love and grace over you.  You can accept His invitation to go on a journey and to encounter the beauty of His work being done in you.  It will not be easy but you are never alone because He is there…and I am here.  I understand some things, and if I do not, then I will try to.   The beautiful thing is that I do not have to completely understand to be here for you.  Do not hesitate to send me a message or prayer request on my blog.  I am open for those anytime!

The beautiful thing is that I do not have to completely understand to be here for you.

My friend, thank you for reading this blog post.  I was quite hesitate to even share this online, but I had to turn down my own doubt and negative thoughts because the Holy Spirit’s prompting is always so strong and compelling that I had to share!  I trust in His good work in me and that is what we must do.  Trust.  I know that I am encouraging and challenging you to do a lot of things that are not easy to do but we were never called to live an easy life.  We are called to live a life with God.

Midpoint

I took this picture at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona. Each section represented a number from 1-12, such as a clock…time or I guess you can also say thyme?! 😉

We all have a beginning and end since time is always moving forward.  The moment we breathed our first breath we are going to encounter x, y, and z until we breathed out last.  Imagine with me.  There is a timeline and a chunk of that timeline is where I am right now in life: pursuing my college education.  On that chunk there is a smaller timeline: four years.  It is crazy to me that I can now pin where I am…at the midpoint.

If you go into my archives, then you will notice that this past school year I only published two blog posts.  That tells you how much I prioritized my blog…  (If you have not been able to read them, then please do!)  Regardless, this school year–in fact, college in general so far–is going by so quickly, and even saying that is an understatement.  How is it that I am already at my midpoint?  As much as I want to breathe in everything that is happening around me and adore the big and small things I get to encounter time will move forward.  It will go on even if I want to bask in that moment for a little bit longer…or you can also say that you do not want an exam to come or a paper to be due, but it will still come and you will still be evaluated at how well you do.

If there were any words I could think of that would make me think back to my second year in college, then it would be relationships and application.  I could have chose adjectives like challenging, stressful, tiring, memorable, and more.  It does not mean my year was not what those words described because they certainly were.  The words “relationships” and “application” are the umbrella to my year and we can say that those adjectives above are the subtext descriptions of my experiences.

Relationships — Maybe it is due to my roles, such as being a Resident Assistant (RA) in the college dorms, but my relationship building and interpersonal skills were executed everyday.  My personal relationships were tested and challenged.  In addition, the kind of person I wanted to be with others was determined.  Interacting with others is a daily thing we do.  This year, in particular, I have never been challenged so strongly in the following ways:

  • To choose to love others deeply despite what they did wrong.
  • To fight for someone I love and to work through conflicts together.
  • To learn how to forgive.
  • To discover what friendship means.
  • To find individuals who sincerely love you and want to be there for you.
  • To put yourself out of your comfort zone.
  • To extend a helping hand or an invitation of friendship despite rejection.

The list above does not mean that I have mastered all of those areas.  I still struggle so much to do most of them.  Relationships are complicated.  Others may disagree with me and say that relationships can be complicated, but that implies that everyone can do relationships well (which can or cannot be true–I agree with the latter) or that there is some secret formula that only some of us know about that will work for all relationships (which I will describe in a bit here that is not true).

This year, in a way, has “forced” me to decide the person I want to be with others and how I do relationships.  I am not implying that I was not myself with others before this year but it has made me become more self-aware of the individual and woman I want to be around those I love and do not know.  The way that I “do” relationships are and will be different from the way that you “do” your relationships.  So, learning the way that I “do” relationships in a deeper way this year has made me learn more about myself and how I am created.  I like to say that when I learn more about myself then I learn more about my God (Genesis 1:27) because He is the One who created me so beautifully and wonderfully (Psalm 139:13-14) which gives me a glimpse of who He is.

So, whether it is because of my roles on campus or the experiences that I encountered that taught me a lot this year about relationships, my relationship with God is the most important factor in my growth.  It may not have been the first relationship I chose to focus on, but He still never wavers to be there for me or forgive and love me.  Who can be like Him?  During this time, we are not to take our God or His mercy, love, or compassion for granted.  We step back up, take His hand, and say “Let’s try again.”

Application — We know a lot of knowledge in our head.  We believe a lot of truth in our heart.  However, if our head and heart do not connect and put any of it in action (application) there will not be any wisdom.  This can easily be said than actually putting it into practice.

It may be really hard for someone to practice or be vulnerable than it does for me.  It does not mean that I am any better than that individual or vice versa.  Application in my life will look different than my peers around me.  This goes back to how we are created all so differently.  With that being said, the following are ways that I have and have not applied knowledge or what I believed in:

  • As a friend, I was able to continue to apply what kind of friend I wanted to be and how I do relationships like I described above.
  • As a leader, I learned a lot in my different roles and was able to execute my leadership skills.  This past year, I applied different leadership styles, improved on many skills, and still working on quite a bit of skills.  (This year’s experience in my leadership roles has showed me what I want to focus on this upcoming year as I continue new and old roles on campus.  See?  It is a continual cycle of learning and applying!)
  • As a Christian, it was difficult to apply my spiritual disciplines.  There were times where I did not make God or my devotion to Him a priority.  #confession  Despite this, my experiences I had this year made many life lessons and biblical truth more personal for me.  This makes it easily to relate to.

Learning to adult is not an easy thing to do, and being able to learn how to apply what I know is true, good, and important is crucial to the kind of adult I will be.  Learning to put what I believe is to be true in my heart into action comes faith and wisdom, and it will reveal my character.

So, as time moved forward I did too to where I am at now.  I am grateful for the time that I put in to reflect on this year’s journey.  It was bumpy and tiring but it sure was one great roller coaster to ride.  Even though things will be heading forward I also take the time to consume the present and to bathe in this season to seek God more and to keep my eyes on Him.  That is my goal for today, and I hope for this summer.  It is great to make big goals and promises, but when it comes to my relationship with God it has to be a daily surrender and submission to Him.  Everyday I have to choose God, and I want to.

This chunk of the timeline that I am at is only a small part of my grand timeline, and even my grand timeline is not even that long.  As much as I am in awe of how fast this year or college is going by it is supposed to.  It is only four years…  Four years where I do most of my adulting and set myself on this voyage where I can explore the rest of my timeline.  Want to join me?  Let’s go!…  Together because I heard it is a lot better with community! 😉

Stop and Breathe

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After a long day I sat on my bed, and I asked myself what I was going to do.  Was I going to complete everything on my to-do list, go to sleep, complain, or better yet just give up?  The latter felt freeing and easy.  I wanted to give up…multiple times actually.  Up to this point, I had friends that told me it is okay to cry and that I can let it out.  However, as much as I wanted to express my stress, tiredness, and weakness in tears I could not…at least not until that night on my bed.  I got on the phone with a friend and my tears came.  My heart released all that it could.  My own cry made me sad.  It only grew louder and louder.  My head was pounding and my nose was clogged.  How did you keep it in this long, Lisa?  You are not okay.

I do not know about you but my schedule is most of the time filled with things I need to do because of what I am involved in.  I have back to back classes and meetings to go to.  It’s been like this since the beginning of the school year.  A part of me absolutely enjoys it though.  I enjoy what I do because I am passionate about it.  I enjoy spending one-on-one time with people I care about because I am passionate about cultivating and maintaining my relationships.  I enjoy sitting down with a team and planning the next club event because I am passionate about planning and the importance of our purpose on campus.  I enjoy being in a place that I can share my ideas and being challenged by other’s perspectives because I am passionate about building connections and understanding others.  I enjoy sitting on my bed planning hall events for my residents because I am passionate about creating community.  I (sometimes) enjoy reading about what I am learning in my classes because I am passionate about learning.

As much as I enjoy doing those things I listed above I constantly need to remind myself of the following:

  • You are only one person and human–you cannot do everything.
  • You can say no, you know?
  • You have a limit, Lisa.
  • You need to take care of yourself, too.

I know it is important and needed as a student and leader to not neglect themselves of self-care but I lost sight of taking care of my own personal needs.   As I was constantly giving to others what was being poured into me?  I did not allow time or space to let God pour into me or to do the things I love to do to that energizes me.

“I’ve got to spend time getting quiet so I can be prepared to hear new things from the Lord.  Isn’t it a lovely thought that God might be waiting for there to be silence in your life in order to be able to share some of His best secrets with you?”

— Lysa TerKeurst, Uninvited

Now that I can recognize that I need to take care of myself, I want to make it a goal to insert time into my day to be quiet so that I can listen to the Lord.  I want to be able to enjoy a meal without having to be on my laptop responding to emails or doing homework because I want to eat slowly and mindfully.  I want to be able to give myself time to journal thoughtfully or read something satisfying.  I want to be able to enjoy a Korean drama after a long day or be in a hot, bubbly bath!

I cannot be a good student or leader if I am running empty in my cup.  Finally being able to experience this has taught me a lot.  From my reflections, I know that even though I lost sight of self-care I have complete trust that my God has been and is taking care of me.

So as I write this, I am lounging in my dorm with a blanket wrapped around me.  I am basking in the beauty of the silence in the room.  I also inserted time into my schedule this upcoming week to do things that I will help fill my cup in the midst of my busy schedule.  I am thankful for a free weekend to breathe and lay back as the sun shines into my room.  Lisa, one step at a time.  You are doing great!

lisa (3)

College: Year Two

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Packing and preparing for college this year was different than I expected. I noticed that my heart was heavy, my soul grew tired, and physically I was not receiving quality sleep. I went to God desperate for some answers because I wanted to get rid of this overwhelming feeling. As I began to find the root of my situation, I was reminded of my many roles on campus. From there I started to understand why I was feeling this way…

I am afraid. I need to say it again. I am afraid! I am afraid I will not meet the expectations of the roles I have on campus or even my own expectations I give myself. I am afraid I will fail people in my life. I am afraid that all of my responsibilities will be too much for me to handle. I am afraid I will get lost in constantly doing something.

This overwhelming feeling stole my joy and excitement for this new school year!  However, when I was honest with myself AND God I realized how much weight was lifted from me.  I began feeling excited again.  The fact of the matter is that I will not be perfect in my roles, I will make mistakes, and my responsibilities will be too much for me.  It will get overwhelming and I cannot deny that.  However, I cannot deny who my God is either. He is the source of my strength. I believe that God has given me the roles I have on campus for a reason, and I believe for many reasons.  I am so honored to be serving and leading in different areas across campus, but I am also called to be a child of God.  He is my Father who still needs to feed and teach me.  To do so, I must humble myself and become obedient to Him and my calling.  I need to draw from His water and when I did He reminded me of something great!

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

1 Timothy 1:7

Because I have accepted God as Lord of my life, I have the Spirit of the living God living inside me! I do not need to be shy or intimidated for what is to come! He is the One who calls me out beyond the shores and makes me brave.

I am excited! I can definitely say that again: I AM EXCITED!! Year two of college will be a great year. I see a lot of growth and transformation happening this year, not only in myself but in others and on campus! I truly am thankful for having the opportunity to attend college and to take one step closer to fulfilling my calling. Thank You, God, for always taking care of me and providing what I need.

lisa (3)