A portrait of me?

“My heart feels like the hardwood of the kitchen floor
Yeah, it's beat up and bruised and broken
But more beautiful than it was before
Love is not something you can buy or borrow...
When it's all said and done
When the party is over
When it's all said and done
I'll still be your lover”-Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors

Long lean legs. Pink high heels, painted nails, and perfectly accessorized. And it was impossible not to notice those cut hips and killer quads: clearly the result of some serious Barre exercise classes. My new friend and burgeoning artist, Susannah(age six) presented to me her newest piece: a portrait of me. ME? I examined the drawing a little closer as she leaned in to receive my feedback. She had, just minutes before, given it her final Crayola ‘brush stroke’ and signed her name. Reviewing her artistic representation of me, I reminded myself of the words of the great artist Shakira, “you know my hips don’t lie.” Yes, this WAS a Masterpiece! I LIKE THAT VERSION OF ME! It may have well been an oil painting on canvas in my eyes. I finally had a piece of original artwork for the bachelorette bungalow. It was impossible, though, for me to see myself in her drawing. She failed to capture the adult acne flare up or give any detail to my ‘cupcake top.’ (Muffin top just sounds, so, well, blah. And if I am going to have a roll, I prefer it to be thought of as sweet, like sugar, not a plain bran muffin.)

I told my new friend I would hang the picture in my apartment. Her eyes got big, “you have an apartment?” I told her yes, but it was actually a basement of a house kind of like hers. She looked a little concerned, so I quickly and rather awkwardly, tried to convince her it was not the ‘dungeon’ I was sure she was envisioning. Yes, I tried the ‘Bachelorette Bungalow’ description with my six-year-old pal. She saw right through my euphemism. She responded, “We have a basement. Is your basement cold? Ours is cold.” (No judgment in her tone, but a genuine care about my home’s temperature. ) We finished our ‘urban digs’ conversation, and I prepared to leave.

Back home, I began my nightly routine. It is more of strategic battle plan these days. Looking in the mirror, I assess the situation, quickly. No need to tarry. I retreat, grab the generic witch hazel, and hope for the best! (Susannah’s interpretation of my face was flawless. The only red color she used was the perfectly lined lips and dazzling earrings. ) “If only I really looked like that,” I chuckled to myself. I grabbed my washi tape and surveyed my walls for the right spot to hang the picture. She had drawn a huge heart on the shirt of the ‘Dorothy’ figure where the heart was actually colored outside the line, spilling over the shirt. I smiled again. Coloring inside the lines is tough, coloring outside the lines is imaginative, but coloring outside of the lines you drew yourself is brilliant. If only I could view myself through Susannah’s lens, I thought.

What we believe about ourselves determines so much of how we live, the actions we take, and ultimately the stories we live and tell. The story God is telling in our lives is one of change and redemption. He does not just fix broken things, He makes all things new! “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”( Ezekiel 36:26)

We know the future Reconciliation and Restoration that eternity offers, but are we presently letting it reshape and renew our hearts here and now!? Paul writes, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10)” The HOPE is here and now too! He sees me, newly formed crows feet and all, as a MASTERPIECE! I like how the ESV translation calls us His ‘workmanship.’ He crafted us with His hands and we are HIS work of art. The lens He sees us through is perfect with no blemishes or flaws.

So why do we actively and continuingly strive to add our design to His? Or more accurately, we focus on telling the story about the ‘old heart,’ the one that is dead. Friends, He gave us a new heart, one that is bursting at the seams and colored way outside the lines! A heart made alive because of His love, mercy and grace!!! Let’s remember to abide and live in THAT story. It’s such a better one to tell. And it’s one that is growing, shaping, and being made new throughout our lives.

I hung my portrait just by mirror. It makes me smile. I hope it too will be a gentle and colorful reminder to be aware of the story I am telling myself. What story does the person I see in the mirror reflect? What does your mirror reflect?

“….but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2)”

My prayer is that it is one that reflects continual renewal, hope, and everlasting joy.

Shine On,