Lent: the past participle of lend, OR otherwise known as the 40 days leading up to Easter. A time to give up something good in our lives to get closer to God and reflect on the sacrifice Christ made by giving His life on the cross.  

As this season approached last year, I began to realize God wanted something bigger from me than just giving up coffee, or even social media. Don’t get me wrong, those things are great things to fast from, but God and I both knew that an absence of those things was not going to push me to depend on Him as much as I could. As I prayed and allowed myself to be real, I realized that I needed to give up a fundamental part of culture for women: makeup. Freshman year in high school as I started wearing it more, the compliments filled my confidence and it became something that I could not feel beautiful without. When I wore less makeup and people would react differently to me, it was a blow to my self-image. This began to shape how I saw makeup and how good I looked as a determining factor of how much people accepted me.

But I felt God telling me my beauty came from somewhere else.

“You are altogether beautiful my darling, there is no flaw in you.” –Song of Songs 4:7  

This is how God sees me and this is how God sees you, completely stunning to Him just the way He made you, nothing added OR taken away. 

As I paraded my naked face from class to church, to formal events, I began to realize my real insecurities and the lack of love I had for myself. I would look at myself in the mirror, 3 breakouts coming up, and not believe that God's voice whispering "you're beautiful" was louder than the comparison from the world screaming "you are not enough." 

I felt low and as if no one would ever choose a girl who did not "clean up."

But the truth is, that even if no one does, even if the world is telling me that I am not enough, Christ is. 

As I leaned on Him in this search for the truth that I so desperately needed, He showed me that He loves me, flaws and all. In fact, He loves me so completely and fully that He gave His whole life for me, so that I could live in freedom with Him in that love. Even when people were giving me attention because of my looks, it was always fleeting. I realized that there is a difference between the “love” that I got from the world, and the love that I had from the Lord.

The love that God has for us, that we are meant to live in, is not conditional. It does not depend on looking good. The love He has for us is SO beautiful and real because it is completely raw, nothing covering or hiding its true self. 

When I was not wearing makeup, I was able to fully realize this love that God meant for me – to come to Him with my bare self and be fully loved. I was able to present myself to others in this way and not be worried about the earthly praise or love that I was getting, because I DEEPLY KNEW that the voice that is ETERNAL calls me beloved. 

So many of us know this, but do we believe it? If our outer layers were torn off, would we really see that with Christ we have become content in all circumstances? Or if our blessings were stripped away, would we see that maybe they have been clouding us from the true blessing – Jesus' undying love for us, new every day, every MOMENT?

This is true in all of our blessings – not just makeup, but in food, friendships, finances, ANYTHING and everything.

Now as Lent has been over for quite some time now, do I wear makeup? Yes I do. 

But I have learned that it is a blessing, not what makes me beautiful.

My heart is what the Lord finds true value and beauty in, not the way I look or the way people make me feel about my appearance, regardless of what circumstances around me might lead me to believe. Makeup certainly is not something that should be used in excess. Just like anything else good in our lives, it is easy to turn our focus to it above all things instead of the Lord without even realizing. Often times, I will still not wear makeup, and enjoy just being me – no additives – inside and out. 

I now know the truth, but I still have times of doubt.

Satan is eager to take the opportunity to lie to me about where my value and my identity lie, especially when I’m off my guard. In these times, I have to remember the truth I learned, and sometimes must re-learn it all over again. I continue to try to not get caught up in my appearance by not wearing makeup on Saturdays.

I urge you to give up something you truly take for granted and let the Lord take it over. If you give it to Him wholeheartedly, He will show you the truth. 

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