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Chelsea Watkins: Not Christian Enough

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Chelsea Watkins: Not Christian Enough

What do young Christians find attractive?

Guys that sing and play acoustic guitar (those guys can worship like no one else), and girls who like deep theological discussions (they really dig coffee and the word). Don’t fit the criteria? Well then, “You aren’t spiritual enough.” Not spiritual enough? You don’t fit the high standards that many of today’s Christian men and women have of what Godliness is. If you don’t pray to Jesus in a certain way, talk about God every other conversation, and fall to your knees during every worship service, then you aren’t very godly. Don’t get me wrong, a guy that truly loves the Lord is attractive, but should that kind of Godliness be the limit of what we consider “attractive”?

If you think of what Godliness is (taken from Galatians 5) being Christ-like, or loving others like Christ comes to mind. It’s a basic biblical definition. Once it is applied to a possible dating partner, it becomes more of a cultural definition than a biblical one. In our current Christian culture, Godliness means someone who worships dramatically, loves talking about God, or always in prayer. It doesn’t sound bad on the surface, but we tend to have a narrow idea of what exemplifies those definitions. We end up picturing the extremes. We picture someone who jumps and shouts during worship, talks about God all the time (you know what I mean), and someone who prays really really intensely. Is it wrong to do those things? Not at all, but when it becomes a standard that we hold ourselves, and others to, it becomes a problem. Now that it’s a standard, the mindset becomes “If you don’t worship Jesus in that exact way, then clearly you don't follow Christ" and that’s ridiculous! What gets overlooked is that not everyone expresses their relationship with Christ in the same way. Some people are loud and outspoken. Others are quieter, with a softer voice, but that doesn’t mean one is more Godly than the other.

Godliness shouldn’t be a quality we use to attract a mate, but rather to lead others to Christ.
— Chelsea Watkins

How does this apply to dating and attractiveness? It seems that many possible suitors are turned down, because from the outside appearance, they aren’t as close to Jesus as some would like. Well if someone doesn’t meet this ridiculous new standard of Godliness, it doesn’t mean they aren’t on fire for God. It also doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of a date just because they worship a little differently. This whole thing distracts us from what Godliness really is, prevents us from truly understanding someone, and ultimately distracts us from God himself. A man or woman of God is way more than how much they talk about Jesus, or how extravagant their worship style is. Their Godliness can be seen through their character, how they treat others, and how they treat you. It should be every Christian’s goal to be like Christ, but in this we also need to keep ourselves in check. Ask yourself: “Do I worship the same in public as I do in private? Am I trying to impress others or exalt God?” Godliness shouldn’t be a quality we use to attract a mate, but rather to lead others to Christ. It’s important not to lose focus of that. Don’t start lifting your hands because some guy or gal might be looking. Lift them to worship the King who is already after your heart! When we start to view Godliness as an attractive quality rather than a goal we should be striving for, we shift our focus from God, and instead focus on ourselves. Then it’s not really Godliness at all. So while knowing that someone loves Jesus is an attractive thing, it shouldn’t distract us from Jesus.

In reference to someone being spiritual, instead of saying “that’s attractive”, say “that’s awesome”. Awesome that someone is unashamed to share the love, proclaim the love, and accept the love of Christ publicly. We shouldn’t judge how Godly someone is before we know their story, and we shouldn’t use our praises to bait someone into dating us. That’s not what it’s for. So even though the guy in the bro tank and snapback looks even better for having his bible with him, it’s only an outward appearance. Whether it’s for show or something genuine, it shouldn’t sway my opinion of how spiritual he is, because I don’t know him…yet.

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His Side: Can guys and girls be "just friends"?

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His Side: Can guys and girls be "just friends"?

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Can Guys and Girls Be "Just Friends"?

Nii Abrahams

It’s a picturesque fall afternoon. Out of the corner of his eye he sees her from across the park. He notices what she has and realizes he has to have it. He immediately stops what he’s doing and sheepishly approaches. She sees him coming and begins to lock her eyes with his. As he nervously steps into the sandbox, he musters up the courage and asks: “Can I play with you?”

What happened to the sandbox experience? Do you remember those times when guys and girls had no expectations of each others’ company other than the possible risk of getting cooties (which we all knew you could easily wipe off)?

Somewhere between recess and freshman orientation we’ve turned the innocence of coed relationships into this intensely awkward samba of mixed feelings and sexual frustrations. One of the biggest beliefs that society has (especially since coming to college) is that guys and girls cannot just be friends.

Apparently, guys have this innate desire to pursue every girl they meet, and girls can’t help but fall hopelessly in love with a guy because they said “hi” to them. The only thing is that God didn’t design us to live in this tension. He created men and women uniquely — each with distinctive dispositions, perceptions of the world, and social realities. Girls like to eat spaghetti on Venus, while guys like to eat the occasional waffle on Mars (I think that’s how the phrase goes… or whatever).

We were meant to grow and learn from each other in a harmonious relationship. However, because this concept has been severely warped, it affects how we see ourselves—as objects that have to be admired by the opposite sex rather than fully understanding what we can contribute to a healthy co-ed relationship. So how can we get back to where God intended for us to be?

 

Intentionality

No romantic relationship is just randomly created. Whether you want to believe it or not, somebody either did something, said something, or acted in a way that gave the other person a green light to pursue. I’ve seen too many people on one side confused and the other heart-broken because his words claimed “just friends”, but her text message inbox inferred otherwise.

People, especially but not exclusively guys, have this habit of putting themselves in relationship-like situations with no intention of pursuing. Maybe this rings a bell — have you every invited a guy or girl to “just watch a movie” with you alone? How about going on a “simple walk”? Maybe multiple study sessions when it’s just the two of you, or even texting late into the night every night? Unfortunately, we are all guilty of these actions in some shape or form. The worst part is we act so clueless when the other person acts on those perceived pursuit signals! We don’t want to take ownership of the situations we place ourselves in. And if you find yourself in that situation, don’t think “I’m not ready for commitment” is your get out of jail free card. Take ownership and be real.

When we allow someone who we have no intention of pursuing become an emotional crutch, or dare I say, pseudo boyfriend or girlfriend, we are being deceitful and setting ourselves up for failure. Let’s face it. College students are notorious for using their friends as substitute boyfriend or girlfriend. You might know them as your “favorite cuddle buddy” or maybe even “best friend.”

Understand Unique Perspectives

I am blessed to be surrounded by an incredible community of guys and girls while at school. The best part is, I truly value my friends that are girls. In my quest for finding my Topanga (Boy Meets World), I have said and done some really stupid things. It’s not enough that I am a guy, which means I’m genetically disposed to Foot-In-Mouth Disease, but I haven’t had a lot of dating experience.

If it weren’t for the unique perspectives of my female friends, I would not be the guy I am today. Their advice on not just dating but life in general has been invaluable. Their encouragement to me and my encouragement to them isn’t flirting. It’s a genuine respect and mutual love. We both learn and grow from each other.

You see, our human nature only gives us one vantage point. Having the opportunity to see through another’s perspective is incredibly beneficial! Through that benefit we have a better understanding of what our friends of the opposite gender go through. I have had some incredibly deep talks with these girls and didn’t feel that I had to instantly pursue and marry them!

I have a hard time thinking that God created beings that were supposed to coexist in tension. When God made man and woman, he made them perfectly in his image. If we start viewing the pursuit of coed relationships as an act of worship, we will begin to restore the true intention of God’s desire for male and female relationships.

Even Jesus had female friends he had no intention of pursuing. I know we like to imagine Jesus and his disciples rolling around being holy bros while racing camels and whatever else they did back then, but in the Bible we see he deeply cared for Martha and Mary. In one account, he went out of his way to visit them, and another he showed great remorse when he saw them hurting because their brother Lazarus had died.

Like a lot of things, society has warped what God has intended to be pure. Especially in our young adult years, we are told that members of the opposite sex are more like objects rather than individuals. Guy or girl, don’t let anyone tell you that the opposite sex doesn’t deserve to be treated with the utmost respect!

Now in these co-ed friendships, we have to understand there has to be boundaries. As young adults, the level of accountability and the information we share should be a lot different than our same-sex friendships. Even more so, those relationships have to change when our friends or ourselves get into romantic relationships. I could say so much more about this, but that topic alone could be its own blog!

Knowing Your Worth

The only way we can truly allow ourselves to just be friends with the opposite sex is if we are confident in who we are. I’m not talking about confidence that comes from wearing your favorite outfit (I know we all that that one sweater that makes us feel like we’re invincible), but I’m talking about the confidence that comes from knowing that our identity isn’t dependent on other people.

When we rely on others to fulfill our self-worth, guy or girl, we use whomever we can find to attempt to fill that void. This always results in using our friends in a negative way. Having a boyfriend or girlfriend may be nice, but it won’t complete you! When we stop looking at every person of the opposite sex as a potential Mr. or Mrs­­­. _______________ , we are giving ourselves the freedom to explore, create, and utilize the benefits of a healthy co-ed friendship without having the pressure of trying to impress that person.

Isn’t that what friendship is? The ability to jam out to One Direction in your car without fear of persecution, or attempting to talk in a Jamaican accent all day long — just to be your goofy self? If who you are is enough for God, then it’s sure good enough for others.

You should be loved in your friendships.

You should be valued in your friendships.

You should be considered beautiful in your friendships.

Nii

2013-08-20 18.17.16Nii Abrahams is a Senior communication major/sociology minor at Missouri State University. He is a student leader and extremely involved in Chi Alpha Campus Ministries. He has a passion for college students and quickly fell in love with the Insecurely Movement because of its incredible impact on future families. To connect with Nii, follow him on Twitter.

 

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A His Side Response: Ladies, it's our job too.

DSC_9784Last week, we featured a His Side blog by Joe Bulger called His Side: For the Guys. Tonight, we feature a response by our very own Emily Taylor, social media staff member.

Today our society has placed a lot of fault upon the men of our culture. We try to place all the blame upon the men when we, as women, are taking little responsibility for a problem that is not one-sided.

We must value the men around us enough to do whatever it takes to direct them in a path towards Christ. Here is where the issue lies: we focus more on turning his gaze towards ourselves than turning his gaze towards Christ. We are called to build each other up in faith, not tear each other down! "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up..." (1 Thess 5:11). True men are not looking for a stumbling block, but rather a solid rock in whom they can rely upon!

How we treat men is how they are going to treat us back. Our actions speak volumes into a guy's ear telling him exactly how we want to be treated. Flirting with every guy, or even just one guy, who you know is not the one for you is simply selfish. Some will say, "I just have a flirty personality." I'm just going to be real here and say that notion is absolutely and totally ridiculous.

Ladies, we know when we are flirting with a guy and each little thing we do makes up a perception of who we are to him in his mind. This goes along with the way we dress. Men are much more visual than women. Do our clothing choices reflect the purity of our hearts? Are the skirts and tops we are wearing reflecting a pure spirit? Would you wear that outfit on a father/daughter date or to hang out with your brother? Are you dressing to draw attention to your body or your heart's beauty? Are we showing these men that we are solid, confident, women of God or are we telling them that we are broken, incompetent, and easy? …(and if brokenness is the place we are in, then know that no man will be able to mend our hearts aside from Christ alone.)

Where are the women of God? If we want an Ephesians 5, we better be growing into a Proverbs 31. Don't settle for less. Men, don't settle for less than a Proverbs 31, because they are out there waiting for you. Is your woman growing you closer to God or making you fall farther? Is she a stumbling block or a solid rock to lean on? Does she respect you, encourage you, and lead you on a path pursing righteousness, or is she tearing you down?

To fix this problem we must recognize our worth in Christ so that we are able to recognize the worth others have in Christ. When we do this, we are able to treat them with the respect and dignity that they deserve.

Ladies, we desire to be with a man who portrays a Godly lifestyle, yet we ourselves have not met the mark of who Christ designed us to be. We settle and in turn so do the men. We sit and demand more from men, yet often we are the ones who give in first. It's a cycle of complacency that will never end unless someone chooses to rise above. Will it be you?

Ladies, let's stop blaming the men for treating us disrespectfully and let us demand dignity by our actions. We cannot be used if our actions refuse to allow anything but the best. Let's be the change. Ladies, it's our job too.

To connect with Emily, follow her on Twitter.

 

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His Side: For the Guys

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For the Guys

Joe Bulger

 

 

You don't have to look very far to see the way the world tells men how to treat woman.

As men we are told by the world to use woman instead of love them as Christ told us to. It screams at every corner, sometimes too loud to ignore. We've become abusers instead of protectors. We've traded real relationships with weightless flirting and meaningless "love".

As men we need to look to the words of God on how to treat and respect woman.

1 Timothy 5:1b-2 "… treat older women as your mother, and treat younger woman with all purity as you would your own sisters."

There you have it. Treat older woman with the respect you would give to your own mother. Treat younger woman with all purity as you would your own sisters.

But what does all purity mean?

That means anything you wouldn't say to your sister, don't say it to other girls. That means any way you wouldn't look at your sister, don't look at other girls in that way. There doesn't need to be any further explanation, as the verse is very clear to how young men should treat women. Show women the love that Christ has for them in the way you interact with them. Girls should walk away from a conversation blessed by the way you treated them, instead of walking away confused and hurt.

"Does that mean I can still flirt with girls as long as I don't do anything physical? I mean come on, it's just a little harmless flirting."

No, It's not just harmless flirting.

As guys we don't put a lot of thought into our actions sometimes. Most of the time we just do things. But God has called us to be smarter than that. Treat every girl with respect.

As men if we are really looking for a Proverbs 31 woman, we should treat every single girl we interact with as such.

If we are looking for that girl that is more precious than rubies, how do we expect to treat her as such if we are treating other girls as though they are cheap counterfeit jewels?

Guys, it's time we wake up to the lies that are being spread and resist the temptation that the devil is so heavily laying on us. It's time we start treating every girl we meet with the love and respect that the lord intended us to give to woman. It's time we start setting the example to the next generation.

1 Timothy 4:12 "Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity."

Every conversation counts. Every time you interact with a girl you have a choice. You have a choice to build or destroy.

We all are guilty of this, and I would be the first one to confess. But there is still time to change.

Guys, let's be builders of the young ladies around us, not destroyers. There are far too many guys that are destroying. We need more guys to step up.

Let's change this.

 

Joe BulgerJoe is a Sophomore in College from Springfield, MO that enjoys photography and traveling. He is passionate about Insecurely because he believes everyone is made purposefully. Joe comes to us as a His Side blogger and a graphic designer. To get connected with Joe, follow him on Instagram at @beingasajoseph.

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Amanda Bollinger: Quiet Ears in a Loud Society

AMANDA  

Growing up, I was never the most confident in how I looked. I found my self looking around at other girls my age thinking, “I don’t look like that.” and, “She’s definitely prettier than me.” If a guy was in the room that I liked, I would find my self looking around to see if there were any girls that were prettier and if so I would tell myself, “He won’t like you. She is definitely prettier. He would choose her.”

I had this mentality that there is always someone more beautiful. I felt that I could never live up to what anyone thought was beautiful. I found my self diving into romantic movies and chick flicks, eventually getting the understanding that what was happening in these movies would never happen to me. I remember feeling so ugly.

My cousins were always skinnier growing up; so fit looking in their bikinis. I felt so huge next to them in my tankini. Weight became another thing that I couldn’t live up to. I wasn’t pretty enough and I wasn’t skinny enough.

I finally came to a point in my life where I had to come to terms with who I was because at this point I wasn’t so sure. Who am I? I had been trying so hard to be like every other girl that I was no longer Amanda Bollinger. I was bits and pieces of all my friends, of girls I had seen, and what I thought boys really wanted. When I realized how I was living, I saw a life that felt kind of like hell.

It was all because of the battle in my mind. The devil kept telling me, “You aren’t good enough” and “No one will ever love you.” He had me focused on exactly what he wanted: the things of this world. God taught me that I will never be beautiful unless I am myself entirely. If you are trying to be someone else it won’t work.

Who will show the beauty that God gave to you and you alone? If you aren’t showing it, no one else will. Girls in today’s society waste their beauty away wishing for a substitute that is almost impossible to achieve; a substitute that comes from the things we hear, see, and feel.

I promise you this. If you turn your eyes towards God, he will show you how beautiful you are. If you let Him, He will place blessings in your life that will. I know this to be true because He did it for me. If we can learn to quiet our ears in a loud society, we can hear God telling us, “You are so beautiful. You are so beautiful my love.”

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Annie Torr: Brutal Honesty & a Side of French Fries

ANNIE This is a sensitive subject for me as I’m sure it is for many women and even men out there. I grew up in a Christian home and was affirmed from a young age that I was a beautiful girl. I never really struggled with body image until one trip to California. I went to visit some family friends and at the young of 10 I saw 2 beautiful college girls talk about how mad they were that their thighs touch when they stand up.

From then on my eyes were opened to thigh gaps (or lack there of), muffin tops, arm flaps, and back fat. I was kind of a chubby kid growing up and it took a while to grow into my skin. My insecurities really began to form in junior high and high school when I realized the boys I liked, liked my friends and not me. Never having had a boyfriend still to this day has continued to grow some of those underlying insecurities. “Am I not good enough?”, “Am I not beautiful enough?” “Am I not thin enough?” It is so unfortunate that these are the lies that so easily are fed into our thoughts.

Going off to college opened my eyes to a world I never knew before; a world of eating disorders. I began my freshman year at a college in Costa Mesa, California. I had always thought eating disorders were something that celebrities and famous people dealt with. Little did I know, it was everywhere I looked. The closer I got to the girls I was living with, the more I found out about the lies that consumed their mind constantly. When going to lunch I came back with a full plate (if not multiple plates) of food. For those of you that know me, I love food, especially French fries. They are kind of my weakness. My friends however, would put about 7 pieces of lettuce, vegetables, and a sprinkle of olive oil in a bowl and call that a meal. I have battled thoughts of not eating/throwing up but I can’t do it. The Lord blessed me (yes I say blessed) with some health problems in high school that restrict me from even being able to do those things.

Physical insecurities are the devil’s playground. He loves to toy with our hearts in thinking we are anything but beautiful daughters of Christ. My journey with my insecurities has not been easy and it’s unfortunately not over. I wish I could write here on this blog proudly and say I am completely and wholly confident in the woman God made me!......But I am struggling. With God’s grace and mercy I am working daily toward this. We have all heard Psalm 139:14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well”, but do we believe? Truly, deeply, in our souls believe this? It says I know this FULL WELL. I pray that if we don’t right now, that we learn to know this full and completely.

I could probably talk a lot more about this but for now I will stop. If you ever want to talk more about my story or about yours I would love to listen. I believe strongly in this movement. God is the ultimate creator. Who are we to say His creations are wrong, ugly, and flawed? . I hope as a community we can begin to accept our flaws as beautiful.

You are loved. You are valued. You are beautiful.

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Tori McMunn: Dark Made Light

Tori McMunn  

Growing up, I always thought insecurities meant weaknesses. They were just silly things that we couldn't handle and that we covered up to hide from everyone else. My weakness was worry.

Coming from a long line of what I thought was very strong, independent, Christian men and women, turned out that once I got older I found out my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles all had their own weaknesses. They hid secrets and lies that no one talked about very much. I figured I shouldn't talk about what worried me either so I bottled it up inside. I thought for far too long many nights.  I would lose sleep and have sudden fears during the day because I was worried of whatever was on my mind. Sometimes it would come out in tears or anger. It was a constant battle in my mind. The fact that my parents fought made me scared to tell them what was wrong. I figured it would make their problems worse. I was able to share minor details with friends and I allowed my grandparents in on my struggles with communicating with my parents. But it still never solved anything completely.

Finally, the summer after I graduated High School, my family went through the darkest time of our lives. Many secrets were made clear, lies then turned to truths,  and everything that had been bottled up trickled - actually gushed - out. All cards were on the table! It was my worst nightmare come to life. It wasn't until I had been at Evangel for nearly 6 months until hope started arising inside of me. A guest speaker was leading an alternate chapel one night. Although I don't remember what he spoke on, I remember a pulling inside of my heart to turn to Isaiah 46:8-9. I didn't even know if there was that many chapters in this book. I finally turned to what seemed like a random passage but this is what I read, "Remember this, keep it in mind, take it to heart. Remember the former things, those of long ago; I Am God, and there is no other; I Am God, and there is none like me." I cried in amazement of what I just took in. God had told me to not forget but to let it go and give my insecurity to him. He is God!

After that night, it was like the battle in my mind had grown smaller. The things I felt I had to bottle up no longer made me weak. I understood that I'm not weak because my God is strong! Sure, I had to still face my insecurities but it felt more manageable because I wasn't by myself. God had been through everything with me. God continually works through our weaknesses to show us how mighty he is! He can take what we feel we can't handle on our own and actually make it manageable in his hands. I found out I couldn't do it on my own and that I didn't have to hide my worries. God had been there the whole time. And he is there for every single one of you! He doesn't want you to forget, but he does want you to let go so he can manage it. What ever the insecurity God is stronger!

My name is Tori McMunn and I am secure!

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Abbi Leathers: Insecurity for real

 Abbi Leathers

Insecurity: The oh-so-lovely gift from SATAN to pretty much the entire population of girls on this planet Earth (and boys too I guess, equal opportunity and stuff).

Okay but for real.. insecurity is totally straight from Satan. Want to hear about my never-ending battle with the nasty crap? (Sure Abbi, I’d love to!) Alright, sweet. Let’s just back it right on up to THE WORST YEAR OF ANYONE’S LIFE EVER: That’s right, you guessed it, sixth grade. Can I get an “amen”?! You know, that’s the year when you returned to school after summer break in your cool new jean skirt and leggings, and half the boys were still smaller than you and the other half grew about ten feet, started talking with that bass down low, and sprouted massive amounts of armpit hair that they insisted on showing off every chance they could with their jank, homemade cutoff t-shirts. You with me? Yeah, well that’s the same year when I learned all I didn’t want to know about pimples. I was only twelve years old when I went to my mom and demanded to learn about the wonderful world of makeup. I was in my last year of elementary school, and my dependence upon hiding my face had already begun.  And let me tell you, I got to be pretty good at it.

So basically, that continued all through the awkward junior high years and right on through the high school ones too. I’ve always struggled with my complexion, and I’ve literally tried every remedy known to man. And despite the fact that I’ll be twenty years old in just a few short months, my face still acts like it belongs to that twelve year-old girl in the sixth grade.

Since all that began, I can honestly say I’m not even sure if there has been a day in my life that I’ve gone without makeup completely. Over the years I grew to be embarrassed of my face and did my very best to hide it. I cut my bangs and never pulled them back in an attempt to hide half my face, and when someone would try to make eye contact with me, I’d quickly look away. I was the epitome of insecure.

Like most girls, I’ve also battled with a lack of confidence in my weight, size, hair, voice and pretty much everything else about myself too. I know what it’s like to grow up in a culture consumed by commercials with undressed Victoria’s Secret models and an obsession with sex. And I definitely know what it’s like to want to be desired. Been there. Done that. Still fighting that battle.

But I can honestly tell you that when I realized that the Creator of this entire, amazing universe desires me and is relentlessly pursuing me, well that’s when my perspective changed a little. As Christian men and women, we’re all for the idea that God is perfect in every way and Created the Earth and everything in it. But then we continue to hate ourselves and every feature we possess. But do you not realize that YOU were created by that perfect Creator? The Creator that makes no mistakes and does everything intentionally? The One who created the ocean and heartbeats, daisies and oxygen? Not only did He create those things, but he stepped back from it all in the end and said “Dang, that’s good,” (or something similar that.) THAT’S the God who created YOU. He made you on purpose. He made you for a reason. He makes no mistakes. And He’s your biggest fan. You are His most prized masterpiece.

Now do a brother a favor, and the next time you look in the mirror, try to see yourself the way your Creator sees you. Because He says you are beautiful, you are original, you were carefully made, and you are a masterpiece.

And maybe skip all the foundation. It’s actually kind of liberating once in a while.

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