For a week I have been wearing the bare minimum in makeup as one of my six Lent challenges. When I first began describing my plans for this week to Jess I was set on using only powder, blush and mascara, but he challenged me to go a step further. I decided against any eye makeup or blush and settled on an organic foundation a la Honest Beauty and powder. The idea of wearing this little makeup EVERYWHERE terrified me. Each tool in my makeup arsenal was chosen for a specific reason or to cover a flaw, blemish or shortcoming. This challenge forced me to expose my weaknesses for friends, family and strangers, but it turns out, I’m the only one who cares.
I’m the only one who cares about the perfect amount of color on my cheeks or the angle of my eyeliner. My first day I excitedly told Jess I made it the entire day with only light foundation and powder and he looked at me saying, “Oh, I didn’t even notice. Seriously, you look the same.” While this seems like a super sweet comment (ok, it is REALLY sweet) I was like, WHAT?! You don’t even notice all the work I have been putting into my appearance the last 8 years of our relationship? Ok, my makeup routine was not just for Jess, but come on!
Something very similar happened following my trip to Uganda. While serving in children’s homes I wore minimal make up, forgoing eyeliner all together. When I returned and picked up the black stick, lining my eyes, I looked up and gasped, I looked ridiculous! I had gotten used to my eyes without any makeup except mascara for 10 days. I promptly washed off my work and tried a thin line on my upper lid, smearing it so it appeared a subtle gray and found Jess to ask him why he let me wear so much eyeliner. “What do you think of my eye makeup?” I asked expecting a dramatic response. “Um…it looks good! did you do something different? I can’t tell.” This man can tell when a book is out of line on our shelf but didn’t notice either of these HUGE changes! …Men… Anyway, I never went back to bottom eyeliner. Who knows, maybe this week would have the same effect?
The biggest obstacle I need to overcome without my normal face was our church’s annual Middle School Discovery Weekend where Jess and I volunteered to lead disciple groups of seventh and eighth graders. I remember my own time in middle school as a period of intense judgement and shame, never feeling like I would fit in. It seemed I was never on top of the latest trends everyone else picked up on with ease. I was NOT cool, and everyone knew it. Middle school kids today look more fashionable and put together than I did in college and I was about to face them in all my makeup-free glory. But, you know what, no one noticed. Or if they did they didn’t say anything or ask if I was tired or under the weather. And it turns out I didn’t notice either.
I was too busy watching hundreds of young people learning about God’s love for them through the teaching of high schoolers, young adults, older adults, pastors, interns, and leaders from our church family. I listened as 15 to 17 year-olds broke down barriers between us and God in beautifully crafted talks and stories of mercy, grace, acceptance, thankfulness, forgiveness and courage. I’m reminded that when Jesus died on the cross he tore the veil between us and our loving Father. No gimmicks, tricks, righteous acts or impressive charades get us any closer to God. It’s through loving Christ that we not only have first row seats to his magnificent holiness, but VIP passes.
“Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But no in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have bene brought near by the blood of Christ…”Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone” Ephesians 2:12-13, 19-20
“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that it, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10: 19-25
Just as I don’t have to wear makeup to impress the people in my life, I don’t have to wear a mask when it comes to my relationship with God. I can quit trying so hard to hide my flaws from Him and realize not only does He see past them, but He loves me. He created me in His image, so when He sees me, He sees His son, He sees Himself. In His eyes my weaknesses become strength, my flaws become beauty, and my my mistakes a testament to His grace. What I see in myself as unacceptable imperfections God couldn’t care less, because all He sees is my love for His son, which is all that matters. I’m thankful that this week served as a beautiful reminder of the love and mercy of God.
Next I move to my fifth challenge: Wear Black. My closet will be severely limited so it should be an interesting week! Check back next week to read all about it.
If you want to read about my first three challenges click here (No Dessert, Water Only) and here (Letter Writing).
To watch a Middle School Discovery Weekend video recap created by my very talented friend, Brittany Sturdivant, click here.