Beautiful

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Matthew 11:28-30

"Attractive, Alluring, Lovely, Charming, Gorgeous, Excellent" All synonyms of the word "beautiful." Today, we talk about a Beautiful life.

A life, Shauna Neiquist says, in which "one builds their soul, more than they build anything people can see. Making sure the ground you stand on is honest and that you are spiritually satisfied in your life, not pretending or striving to be someone else. Being as beautiful on the inside as you are on the outside."

"Life where no one sees being most beautiful parts of your life."

The challenge comes with the rise of social media which tempts us to: focus on building a life based predominantly on what people see or think of us and comparing or mimicking our lives after other people's lives, as if God created us cookie cutters.

How do we keep from falling into these traps? How do we put the majority of our focus on the most important things of life that no one sees?  How do we resist the propensity to compare our lives to others?

How do we live confidently encompassed in the life God has given us?

I have searched my own soul this week and I believe there are four keys to helping me live a beautiful life, and I'm hoping they can help you live one too.

I live a beautiful life when I:

1) Live ''Full of God."

Not "full of myself." When I live "full of God," I live content with whatever God has given me that day--- whether it be entertaining a hyper active 2 year old, or leading worship and hosting small group.

When I live "full of myself" I feel like God should have given me a different, a "better" task for the day.

When I live "full of God," I feel way less tempted to compare my situation to someone else's, because I am busy doing the work God has given me to do, I am focusing on the truth He has given me today, and it doesn't really matter what anyone else is doing.

It reminds me of the challenge in Proverbs that says,

"Keep your heads up, your eyes straight ahead, and your focus fixed on what is in front of you. Take care you don't stray from the straight path...don't veer off course to the right or to the left." 

2) Live with a Good Attitude. 

I want my family first and foremost to be blessed by me; if I can put on a good face for the outside world, but have a terrible attitude at home, the part of my life no one sees is crummy, while the part everyone sees is ok, I am not living a beautiful life.

A good attitude makes all the difference. Karin Conlee says, "The majority of the time, a good attitude actually boils down to just one thing: seeing life from God's perspective. We can start having God's perspective when we stop thinking about how we are affected by a situation and start asking how we can use the situation to point someone to our King." 

What can we do if we need an attitude change today? I start by journaling my prayers, even if it's on the "notes" section of my phone. I tell God why I'm frustrated then ask Him to remind me of truth that can refocus my thinking. I also call a friend or my husband and ask them to pray over me. There has never been a time prayer hasn't helped shift my attitude.

3) Live a Life of Service.

Shauna Neiquist says, "We are not voting for "most this" or "most that" in our yearbooks. This is my actual life, it doesn't matter one bit if it's lovely for someone else to live. What does matter: does it feel congruent with how God made me and called me?"

Everyone's life and calling is different, that is why I must throw off the temptation to compare. However, one common thread we all have is, everyone who is a christian is called to serve. Whether you are in the stage where your family or life situation needs service in a way that outside service for this season is somewhat impossible, or if you are able to give ample time outside the home serving in whatever capacity,

Serving is key to a beautiful life. 

Serving is following the example of Christ, it humbles and gives perspective like nothing else can. And I have learned, Jesus never quite asks us to serve in a way that feels completely comfortable. Yes, the service He calls us to might be especially fulfilling, but usually Jesus asks me to serve in a way that stretches me, making me have to depend on Him, allowing Him to "fill the gaps" instead of me relying on my own competence. 

4) Live not forgetting to Rest. 

Even the passage "Be still and Know that He is God" implies we have set aside time to 1) be still= not move 2) unrush our lives and schedules to focus on who God is and to see ourselves for who we are.

Rest is humbling. I am not God and I cannot be constantly going 24/7 or I will burn out, no matter how much I love what I am doing. God already knows this about me, that is why He, time and time again in the scripture, He speaks to the importance of the Sabbath. As much as I think I don't need a Sabbath, I do, everyone does. The world simply will not fall apart if I sit, rest, and enjoy God and life with which He has provided. 
 

*Prov 4:27

"My life is smaller, slower, simpler. My days are less complicated. I sleep better, and wake with a heart full of gratefulness. I've become able to appreciate silliness again, and subtle beauty, instead of the volume of my life being so screechingly loud only fireworks could get my attention.

I thought I would feel deep gladness if I broke my back for my work. I broke my back for my work, and all I felt was back-breaking pain...

Until I realized that the love I was looking for all along was never found in the hustle. You cannot prove it, or earn it or compete for it. You can just make space for it...You'll find it in the faces of the people who've known you all your life, who sit around your table every week, the children whose noses you kiss while they're sleeping. You'll find it in prayer.

And let me tell you where it's not: it's not in numbers---numbers in back accounts, numbers on scales, numbers on report cards or credit scores. It's never something you can calculate. It's not something you can earn or buy or hustle for. 

It's something you discover in the silence, in the roundedness, in the sacred risky act of being exactly who you are---nothing more, nothing less." 

Shauna Niequest "Present Over Perfect"