Ugly Becomes Beautiful Through God’s Lens

God's-Lens

As I glanced out the patio door, a beautiful butterfly fluttered down. My heart quickened, and I bent down and carefully peeked through the blinds.

What?! Are my eyes playing tricks on me? All I saw was a dead, colorless, rumpled leaf. But the picture of a butterfly is still vivid in my memory. Bright yellow with black veins running through it. Almost like a monarch, only yellow instead of orange.

It must be a special gift from God. Butterflies always remind me of His faithful love. He whispers, “Yes, My child, I am here. Always. I will take care of you.”

It’s a blessing when we can look through God’s special lens to see beauty in the ugly.

When we look at the pain and devastation in our lives through our own lens, we feel so fragile, crushed, and forsaken. We may feel like that shriveled up leaf. Tossed about. Dried up. Insignificant.

We will see differently when we put on God’s lens of love:

A dried up leaf becomes a dazzling butterfly.

Jesus and the sacrifice He has given for us becomes reality as our ugliness transforms into a lovely child of God, so precious in His sight.

His compassion soothes our hearts as we learn how perfectly He understands us and how He collects every single tear into His bottle.

The ashes of loss and broken dreams brush into place in the masterpiece the Divine Artist is painting.

We see God is still on the throne, and He works every single pain for our good and to His glory.

When we’re downhearted, depressed, and in despair, it’s hard to see that God really does love us and is always with us no matter what. But if we can surrender our lens of lies into His hands and reach out in faith to gaze through His lens, we see the truth that His love transforms us into beautiful butterflies. We see He is faithfully holding us together. We see His promise of a glorious future.

Then we can trust all the answers to our questions will surely come in His time and way. We can stop holding onto our own way and let ourselves be held in His grace-filled arms. Is it easy? No. But He promises to give us the strength we need to keep taking one step at a time.

“For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world,
that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son,
so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior]
shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
John 3:16 AMP

“You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in Your bottle.
You have recorded each one in Your book.”
Psalm 56:8 NLT

“And we know that in all things God works
for the good of those who love Him,
who have been called according to His purpose.”
Romans 8:28 NIV

A Child's Trust “Just Be Held”
by Casting Crowns

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Everyone Needs Compassion

compassion-butterfly

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people,
holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with
compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
Colossians 3:12

Everyone needs compassion. Everyone longs for kindness and caring. For someone who is willing to help. They need someone who will see behind their masks or dismissing words. They need someone to validate that their pain is real and worthy of attention. They need someone to “be like Jesus” to them.

A couple of weeks ago I read a blog post that gave a beautiful example of compassion. Ceil Ryan describes how her friend felt her life was “out of control.” That her friend said, “I feel like I’m drowning… Well. I guess it could be worse.”

“It could be worse.” Instead of agreeing with her, Ceil validated her feelings and struggles as real and she looked past that statement and saw a hurting soul. She writes, “The pain, stress and worry she is feeling is real. She’s sharing so her struggle can be recognized. It calls out to me, begging to be carried, and to be respected as a burden too heavy to carry right now.”

Ceil’s willingness to look past dismissing words personally validated my hurts, too. I have read other posts or comments to mine that also validate my pain (and I thank God for you all), but too often I dismiss it and don’t allow it to instill more compassion towards myself. Sure, I’m learning to open up and write more about my struggles, but I often say to myself “It could be worse. Appreciate that and be thankful for what you have.” In this way I deny my struggles, whether with chronic illness, the lingering triggers of past abuse, emotional pain, loss, and other stress or worry in life. This inhibits me from grieving as I should. And I’m realizing it drives a wedge in my relationship with a loving and compassionate Savior. When I don’t want to admit I hurt to myself because “it could be worse” or “I need to count my blessings,” I continue to carry my own burdens, even though others are willing to bear the burden with me. And sometimes I don’t feel I deserve to be carried. And I get weighted down and don’t share my hurts with Jesus. I don’t feel the driving need to unburden my pain to Him or let Him carry it.

Even though Jesus knows every deep recess of our hearts, He still wants us to admit we hurt and to unload our pain and struggles to Him. To admit we are helpless without Him. With Him, not one thing we suffer is “too little” to be acknowledged and mentioned. His heart is full of compassion for us.

When we have compassion, we put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and really feel for them. What an absolutely perfect example we have in Jesus. He put Himself in our shoes and suffered in our place. And He still does as He watches over each of us, carrying our sorrow and our pain. He sees into our very souls and shares in our tears. He never dismisses our pain. He never says His pain is so much greater than anything we suffer, so we have nothing to complain about. He never says anything we hurt about is “too little” for Him to care about. He hears our buried longings begging to be carried by Him.

Yes, it can always be worse, but this doesn’t mean our pain isn’t real. Wherever we are feeling pain, stress, or heartache, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, financially, etc., it’s worthy of attention. There are people who by God’s grace will show compassion, who are willing to help ease our burdens. Please don’t get discouraged if you cannot find them and if you are getting beaten down again and again. You are worthy of love and compassion. Remember, dear friends… There is one perfect Compassion-Giver Who cares so deeply, will never slight or belittle our concerns, and will never turn us away. He wants us to acknowledge we’re hurting and to freely bring all our burdens to Him. He not only loves to carry our burdens, but He even delights in doing so. And when we have no more strength to go on, He will gently lift us and carry us through.

“Because of Your great compassion
You did not abandon them in the wilderness.
By day the pillar of cloud did not fail
to guide them on their path,

nor the pillar of fire by night
to shine on the way they were to take.”

Nehemiah 9:19

“But You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.”
Psalm 86:15

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

“When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them,
because they were harassed and helpless,
like sheep without a shepherd.”
Matthew 9:36

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.”
2 Corinthians 1:3

“Compassion Hymn”
by Keith and Kristyn Getty

“And with compassion for the hurting You reached out Your hand,
As the lame ran to meet You and the dead breathed again.
You saw behind the eyes of sorrow and shared in our tears;
Heard the sigh of the weary, let the children draw near.”

Thank You, Lord Jesus,
for your unfailing compassion.
Please make us more like You with hearts
full of compassion towards the hurting.

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Linking up with: 

Holley – Coffee For Your Heart 

Jennifer – Tell His Story 

Kelly – Cheerleaders of Faith

YOU Are the One Whom Jesus Loves

Jesus loves to the end

Dagger-throwing eyes and accusing fingers pointed at me, “You whore.” It was so real that I woke up with a thumping heart, a sinking spirit, and a strong urge to run and hide.

Memories flooded in, swallowing my spirit like quicksand. So many years ago when I was but a vulnerable young woman in youth group who needed help, many people did accuse me of being a “whore” instead of the pastor’s victim. When their mouths didn’t degrade me, their looks and silence did.

On the day of the dream, the three big Ds that abuse victims feel hit me full force and smothered me. Dirty. Damaged. Different.

As my husband and I sat outside on the patio, I told him how I was trying to remember what he always told me, “God knows the truth.” I kept trying to replace the lies with God’s Truth, but I still felt so downhearted.

I tried and tried to focus on Jesus and who I am in Him, but it seemed so hopeless. I tried to consider how precious I am in His sight. How His thoughts towards me outnumber the grains of sand on this earth. That’s a lot of thoughts! Yet still darkness crowded out the light in my heart.

“How precious are Your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
You are still with me!”
Psalm 139:17-18 NLT

Then that afternoon I was reading a devotion and I came upon a verse:

“One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved,
was reclining next to Him.”

John 13:23

I knew John is the one who was inspired to write the book of John, and yet it hadn’t sunk in before that John actually spoke this of himself. He considered himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” As he leaned against Jesus, he knew in his heart that he was the very beloved of Jesus.

Too often I still let past abuse and accusations define me, and it’s choking the joy out of my heart and life. It’s binding my wings, so that I cannot fly in Jesus. I can say I know Jesus loves me, but it doesn’t really sink into my heart that I am His beloved. His chosen. His precious child.

I took deep breaths in and cried, “I am the one whom Jesus loves!” Then every time I blew out, my heart shouted, “Get out of here, Satan!” I did this several times and comfort seeped into my heart along with a longing to truly believe and live as Jesus’ beloved one.

The negative voices of shame and insecurity and Satan’s lies become so strong sometimes in me. I deeply long to identify myself in who I am in Christ, not in the lies.

He loves you, too, my dear readers. YOU are “the one whom Jesus loves!” Many of you have had past or still do have experiences of some type of abuse, and perhaps you feel cloaked in shame. You feel so dirty, damaged, and different. But Jesus gives us a different identity in Him. He invites us to come to Him. Past abuse can burden us, but Jesus says His yoke is gentle and His burden is light. He doesn’t want us to carry the heavy burden of shame. On the cross He endured shame, degradation, and humiliation so we can be freed from it. Freed to fly!

“Come to Me, all you who labor
and are heavy-laden and overburdened,
and I will cause you to rest.
[I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]
Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me,
for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart,
and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment
and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls.”
Matthew 11:28-29 AMP

“Jesus Loves Me”
by Chris Tomlin

May we believe with all our hearts
that we are the ones Jesus loves!

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Linking up with: 

Holley – Coffee For Your Heart 

Jennifer – Tell His Story 

Kelly – Cheerleaders of Faith

Bonnie – Faith Barista’s Beloved Brews