All Things Beautiful

I recently finished a nearly two year challenge, following Ann Voskamp through the journey of One Thousand Gifts. Actually, I have not even finished the counting of 1,000 daily blessings yet, but I did finish the book! It took me so long because it truly was like therapy as I would read a few pages and chew on those truths for days, sometimes weeks at a time.

Like Voskamp, I too have a history of anxiety, diagnosed as generalized anxiety disorder. This developed during college and continued into my new marriage and new career as a teacher. I was on anti-anxiety medication for five years until my husband and I wanted to start trying for a baby. That same year we lost my husband’s younger brother to suicide at the tender age of 16, as he had lost his own battle to depression. Then came the threat of infertility as it took us nearly three years to get pregnant – a pregnancy I lost after ten weeks.

In the year that followed, God taught me about faith and what it means to wait on the Lord (Psalm 40). Exactly a year after my miscarriage I was pregnant again. This time with hope in the Lord’s promise for me. After our precious miracle was born, I struggled through months of postpartum depression, sleep deprivation with a colicky baby, and an identity crisis as I had quit my teaching position to be home full-time with our new daughter.

My husband gave me a copy of the book One Thousand Gifts for my first Mother’s Day. It’s been over two years since I began the book, and I am learning quite a bit about God’s grace and about my true identity.

Identity for a woman is everything. We tie it to our careers, our husbands, our children, our homes, even our fashion. I have learned about myself, that my everything – my identity – has been displaced in all of the above. I’ve been a Christian since I was three, but I am just now starting to understand how to live my identity in Christ my Savior.

Dear Sisters,

God wants you to know: Women are not a cause. We are not an agenda. We are not in competition. Women are not consumers. We are not even a movement.

As women we are Christ’s masterpiece. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). 

God had a purpose for you long ago, before you were ever born, to do and to be a beautiful work to his glory. The Greek lexicon, or translation of handiwork, or workmanship, is the word poiema – where we get our word for poem. Poiema – that which has been made, of the works of God as creator. He planned you, from the beginning of time, to be his beautiful masterpiece, a work of art, writing his language and story on your heart, specifically created just for you.

As the prophet Isaiah says of the coming Lord:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners…
to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve…
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

–Isaiah 61:1-3

Who receives this? The poor, the brokenhearted, the captives, the prisoners, and all who mourn. Can you count yourself among any of these? I can. We all have a story, stories from our past, chains we may still wear. The Lord is inviting us to accept true freedom from these false identities.

After I had lost my first pregnancy, my OB doctor encouraged me saying, “Our God is a God of the instead.” He promises beautiful grace out of the ugly, destitute places. May you find life’s fullness and true joy in Christ as he reveals his grace from the darkest of circumstances.

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe” (Eph. 1:18-19).

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