I’m the type of person who needs to get ready in the morning before I can do much of anything. Sometimes I’m simultaneously feeding and dressing the kids while taking care of myself. No matter how long it takes, these are the things I feel like I have to do: take a shower, style my hair (even in a messy bun), brush my teeth, put in contacts, lotion my face, put on makeup, put in earrings and wear something besides pajamas. Note: makeup on most days is just mascara and a brush-on eyebrow powder (really trivial note: yeah I have a weird obsession with the tidiness my eyebrows).
Why do I do this? When it comes down to it, I just feel kinda gross and ugly if I don’t. I won’t fall apart if someone sees me prior to hair and makeup, but I just feel better with it done.
Likewise, I do everything I can to maintain my “spiritual appearance.” I feel much better when I do. I pray, study my Bible, have good conversations, serve, love, and share my faith. The Bible talks about true beauty in this way:
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (1 Peter 3:3-4)
But some days are just ugly.
|Labor with James was one of those|
“uglier” times (for good reason!).
For most of my life I’ve had a moderate battle with acne (although thankfully not as much the last couple of years). Fighting it can be so frustrating. You wash and medicate your face, drink a lot of water, get sleep, eat healthy food, even take medication. But sometimes you wake up and you have a giant zit in the middle of your forehead (or two or three), no matter what you do. On the other hand, sometimes life gets crazy–you get stressed, sleep less, and eat junk–but for some reason your face is clear. Go figure.
Spiritual zits are the worst.
What’s a spiritual zit? You know: “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:2-4). Common symptoms for me include being ungrateful, unloving, and proud. In other words, I’ll just be in a bad mood. Something could have triggered it, or it could have come out of nowhere. In my opinion, real zits and spiritual zits have one thing in common (especially in women): they are often fueled by hormones and are practically unavoidable.
Sorry if you’re not into the whole acne analogy, but I just have one more thing to say about it. When you get a zit, you can treat it and cover it up, but you also have to let it heal. There is no magical way to make it instantly disappear without a trace. The deeper it is, the longer it takes. Picking at it makes it worse and could even create a scar. When I get in a bad mood, sometimes I wish I could do something and make it leave immediately. I want to fix it, but unfortunately it usually isn’t so simple.
Don’t get me wrong–I’m not advocating indulging in a bad mood. That would be like taking a marker and drawing arrows pointing to the zit on your face. I’m also not arguing that you have no control or choice about your attitude (so the zit analogy isn’t perfect).
But I’m learning that sometimes, when I’m having a rotten day for no reason–or even for a good reason–it just takes little bit of time before the ugliness leaves my system. I can do things that will help it along, what you could call spiritual beauty treatments (prayer, counting your blessings, confession, etc). These prevent spreading infection and scarring. But ultimately, I’m just a sloppy mess of hormones and emotions. Sometimes I just need to sleep it off and by the grace of God I’ll be a better person in the morning.