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Are you believing the great lie that God does not, maybe even could not, love you? The real you?
Women struggle under the ongoing weight of “not-enough-ness.” Not attractive enough. Not smart enough. Not fit enough. Not creative enough. Not good enough. Not sexy enough. Not strong enough. Not whole enough. Not womanly enough. And therefore, not beautiful. We are broken and ashamed to be so.
In our eyes, brokenness makes us unlovable and unusable. But in his Word, God is clear that he sees us the way we already are in Christ: deeply loved and abundantly influential. Yet we hang back, believing instead the toxic not-enough labels.
Hello, Beauty Full explodes the shame-based mythology of our “not-enough-ness.” Instead of believing the hiss of the enemy, women are encouraged to see their beauty the way God does. Chapters include:
- Voice Lessons: Beauty in Your Unique Personality
- Valuable Vessels: Beauty in Your Physical Body
- A Womb of Your Own: Beauty in Your Creative Purpose
- Scar Stories: Beauty in Your Painful Story
- Have Your Sway: Beauty in Your Influential Legacy
Challenged to not settle for emptiness when Jesus came to give life to the full, women will find the freedom they need to accept their identities when they not only hear but embrace God's heavenly message: "Hello, Beauty Full!"
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
Elisa Morgan is President Emerita of MOPS International, Inc., based in Denver, Colorado. She is the author, editor, or coauthor of numerous books, including Twinkle, Naked Fruit; Mom, You Make a Difference! Mom’s Devotional Bible; What Every Mom Needs; What Every Child Needs; and Real Moms. Elisa has two children, and a grandchild, and lives with her husband, Evan, in Centennial , Colorado.
Read an Excerpt
Hello, Beauty Full
Seeing Yourself as God Sees You
By Elisa Morgan
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2015 Elisa Morgan
All rights reserved.
Stop connecting with your darkness. Connect with the beauty of My risen life within you. you were on My heart eons before I created the galaxies and scattered a trillion suns across the void. I personally designed you and take great pleasure in the work of My hands.
— Pamela Reeve
I hurled the phone across the kitchen, where it banged against the wall just below the oven and clattered to the floor in pieces. Gathering my weary heart, I crossed to fetch it, bending to note the gash in the Sheetrock where the phone had made contact. Ugh. The plastic notches wouldn't snap back in place, leaving random, unhooked wires and doobobs. And I was left with no ability to fix the conversation I'd just botched. I laid the phone on the counter and covered it with a dish towel for the moment. Mercy.
The phone hurling had come with good reason. My ministry-minded husband and ministry-minded me found our tidy world shattering. Our family of two beautiful teens was coming undone through an unexpected expectancy, substance abuse, and this, that, and the other unimaginable ordeal. Pain. Pain. Pain.
When a phone call came with more unraveling news, I came undone as well, and the phone went flying. It certainly wasn't the first time I'd launched leftover turmoil far out and away. Oh, no — frustrated flinging was familiar to me from times far back in my tumultuous childhood.
Like a certain Halloween night as a teen growing up in Houston. Looking back, I still can't see into my motivation. I'm not sure where I got the eggs — or for heaven's sake, why I thought it would be cool to hurl them here and there.
What I do remember is my hula girl costume, my finger on the doorbell, my body darting back down the front walk to hide behind some bushes, the door opening, and then my arm arching — launching a raw egg through the opening. Splat! It hit the target of the entryway, creating an artwork of egg yolk on the avocado-and-cream flocked wallpaper. I can still see the stunned look of the owner's face — first shock, then confusion, then anger. My trick-or-treating companion in crime (really just "trick" in this circumstance) rose from her hiding spot, and we took off, praying our costumes would sufficiently conceal our identities.
When I consider the "less-than" moments in my life, this one usually starts the list. The list is long. Other teen follies follow: smoking down at the bayou, sneaking champagne at a wedding reception and having to be carried home by my date, slipping a lipstick into my purse at the mall, riding atop a friend's car hood at youth group, shoving my drunk mother in the doorway to get her out of my face. There are adult infractions, when surely I should have been more mature: Slamming the refrigerator door — over and over again until the shelf arms broke and glass jars rattled onto the floor. Ignoring an inconvenient need in a coworker. Yelling at my husband. And my kids. And God.
Throwing the phone across the room after ending that exasperating call.
Of course there are many more failings. Rather than trot out all the ugliness, let me just admit it here: I've messed up. I've sinned. Let me make that present tense. I mess up. I sin.
And like everybody else, I cover up. I grab whatever fig-leafed excuse I can reach and put it in place over my mess. I tighten the drawstring on my grass hula skirt and flee the scene. I cover plastic phone parts with a dish towel and slide to the kitchen floor. And then I try to function as if I'm okay, confident, whole, loved, when I truly don't believe I am. Because I know what's underneath the cover-up. I know what's still stinkily there.
Enter: The Hiss
From the time he was about three, my grandson Marcus would spend the night every other weekend or so. One bedtime, cuddled with him in his race-car bed in his upstairs "Marcus room," I reached for a book a friend had suggested to me in my newish grandmothering role: The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones. There was something so whimsically engaging about the art and the layout that I had tucked it up on the bedside table to open more fully with Marcus.
I picked it up. It began,
God wrote, "I love you" — he wrote it in the sky, and on the earth, and under the sea. He wrote his message everywhere! Because God created everything in his world to reflect him like a mirror — to show us what he is like, to help us know him, to make our hearts sing.
The way a kitten chases her tail. The way red poppies grow wild. The way a dolphin swims.
I was liking this. Marcus was too. We exchanged a smile, and I continued on through the story of creation.
"Hello stars!" God said. "Hello sun! Hello moon!" And whizzing into the darkness came fiery globes, spinning around and around — whirling orange and purple and golden planets. "You're good," God said. And they were.
Marcus was now wide awake and eager for more of this story. I glanced at the clock — getting late — then turned the page to "The terrible lie." Curious, I caved and continued.
Adam and Eve lived happily together in their beautiful new home. And everything was perfect — for a while.
Until the day when everything went wrong.
God had a horrible enemy. His name was Satan.... He wanted to stop God's plan, stop this love story, right there. So he disguised himself as a snake and waited in the garden....
As soon as the snake saw his chance, he slithered silently up to Eve. "Does God really love you?" the serpent whispered. "If he does, why won't he let you eat the nice, juicy, delicious fruit? Poor you, perhaps God doesn't want you to be happy."
The snake's words hissed into her ears and sunk down deep into her heart, like poison. Does God love me? Eve wondered. Suddenly she didn't know any more....
And a terrible lie came into the world. It would never leave. It would live on in every human heart, whispering to every one of God's children, "God doesn't love me."
I read on a bit farther — who wants to go to sleep on that note? Then I marked our place, closed the book, and snuggle-prayed with Marcus until he fell asleep.
Downstairs, in my own bed, the Hiss stung my ears. Today it stings still. God doesn't love me.
To look at me today, you wouldn't think I would dance to this beat. I seem confident in who I am and clear about what God has placed me on this planet to accomplish. But beneath my smiling greeting, my kind offer, my outstretched arms, the lie slithers. It undoes my doing. It pricks my confidence. It erases my perception of beauty and whizzes a lie of ugly in place of the twinkly hope that maybe I could somehow be okay, even loved.
God knows this. He knows that I've heard the Hiss — God does not love me — and that I have believed it. That because I've believed the Hiss, I do not see myself the way God sees me. He understands that this great lie is what beckons me in and out of each day, away from him and all he offers.
"How are you?" someone asks.
Inside, my reply gurgles up: Ugly. In response, I reach for the fig-leaf covering and offer some words: "Oh, pretty good." A throw rug over a stain on the carpet.
Made in the image of God — beautiful — Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed before the lie was told and received. They heard the Hiss, believed the lie into disobedience, and became ashamed. With their hearts twisted by untruth and their trust diminished by doubt, their beauty became defiled. Ugly entered. "They sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for them- selves" (Genesis 3:7). A temporary covering. A fragile facade. The best they could manage with their limited abilities.
In their book The Cure, John Lynch, Bruce McNicol, and Bill Thrall pronounced, "Here is the lie, in two parts: We do not see God as He is, and we do not see ourselves as we are."
The Hiss continues in each of us as the curse is handed down: pain in childbirth, confusion in the relationship between husband and wife, sweaty work for survival, eventual death (Genesis 3:14–19). Our failures followed by God's rejection — forever. We're sentenced with a kind of vision impairment: our inability to see ourselves the way God sees us.
And then the tender irony: God created clothes for his embarrassed image bearers. After the lie's original Hiss — God does not love you — God bent and fashioned the first fashion: "The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them" (Genesis 3:21). Isn't that stunning? God himself clothes his wayward ones. The God who X-ray visions through any cover-up we concoct yields to our need to hide and covers us himself.
Although the fall caused clear consequences of separation for Adam and Eve, God's love for them does not change. What changes at the fall is their understanding of God's love and their ability to grasp that he still sees them as good, even beautiful. As does ours.
The Hiss's Legacy
We experience a multisensory depravity. The Hiss in our ears distorts our vision of who God is and how he sees us, and therefore, how we see ourselves.
As Brennan Manning observed, we make Adam and Eve our role models, leaning into some world-made, society-formed version of beauty for our value. When we find ourselves lacking, we christen ourselves "un." Unwanted. Unimportant. Unvalued. Unnecessary. Unloved. Unclothed. Unworthy. Uneverything. We run for cover, coverings of our own making, trusting such masks to provide safety, even a kind of self-salvation. In her book Daring Greatly, shame expert Brené Brown called this "armoring up." Problem is, armor can protect, shield, and cover, but it also cuts us off from real acceptance and love.
Beauty, as God defines it, is pre-fall and post-resurrection. God created us in his image. Male and female he created us. And along with everything else God made, he saw us and said we were good. Very good (Genesis 1:31). Then came the great lie. And we believed it. So God gave his Son — his one and only Son — that believing in him, we might be restored to God. God wraps the bleeding body of his Son over our "unness" and restores us to his original design, inviting us to see ourselves once again as good — just as he always has. Beautiful. "Redemption," as theologian Jerry Sittser put it, is "becom[ing] who we already are in Christ."
In my most stripped-down, honest moments, I realize that I rarely really believe God's pronouncement of "good" over me. More quickly I tune my ears in to the Hiss. How did this ancient murmur become so powerful in my modern life? How does the volume of white-noise falsity grow so loud?
I think back to a moment with my father when I was five years old. He had beckoned me aboard his knees in his cushy, white armchair in our den. Holding my shoulders and peering into my eyes, he said, "Elisa, I've decided I don't love your mother anymore. We're getting a divorce." Hisssssss! God does not love you!
The Hiss continued as I faced the harsh truth that my mother couldn't be stable for me, as she herself was addicted to alcohol and needed me to be stable for her. Answering the call of her alarm by getting her up in the morning and off to work, supervising my younger brother's whereabouts, cleaning cat vomit hairballs off the knotty pine planks of our breakfast room floor, Ajax-ing ashtrays ... Hisssssss! God does not love you!
Again, when my boyfriend of six years and I ended our relationship on the steps of engagement. God does not love you! Again, when my husband and I waited nearly five years — forever — for our first child through adoption. God does not love you! When a trusted coworker betrayed me. God does not love you! When my adolescent children stepped into choices I had prayerfully directed them to avoid, and endured life-changing consequences. God does not love you!
The Hiss has not always come as a result of the choices of others. There are plenty of moments when it slithers through mistakes of my own making: a shrill scream at my husband, a gruff — even mean — moment of mothering, a slip in sharing with another what was not my story to share. Why am I so bad? Why do I do such things? Why doesn't God help me make better choices? And even when I try oh-so-hard to be good and do good, why doesn't God intervene to prevent bad things from happening to me? Why am I so ugly and so not beautiful? God does not love you!
I look at my life. I look at my choices throughout my hisssstory. I look at myself, and I believe the Hiss: God does not love me!
Can you hear the Hiss in your ears? Accusing. Doubting. Ruining. The great lie hisses its way through oh-so-many layers of our living! When we pull back the covers, pad into the bathroom, and see ourselves in the mirror. When we catch glimpses of our reflections while entering a store. When checking the rearview mirror while backing out of a parking place. When staring blankly at our images in kitchen windows, washing dinner dishes. When brushing our teeth before heading back to bed in the late hours. We believe the Hiss: God does not love you!
And in believing the Hiss instead of God, we wound not only ourselves but him as well.
Like all of humankind, I face a choice. Will I choose the Hiss? God does not love you! Or will I choose my God? I love you, Elisa!
The Hiss leaves me with no option but self-salvation. And because of my unavoidable list of failures, I know well that this is not an option at all. Like Sister Miriam, a novitiate in Mark Salzman's novel, Lying Awake, who is trying so very hard to be good enough to be a nun, I discover, "We all have to try to become holy on our own, and fail, before we can approach God with humility."
Silencing the Hiss
God offers a promise of something else entirely: a permanent way out and ahead. Such a stunning turn of events offers full-time hope. Fourteenth-century mystic Julian of Norwich wrote, "Our courteous Lord does not want his servants to despair because they fall often and grievously; for our falling does not hinder him in loving us." Modern-day contemplative Sarah Young ratcheted this thought into an invitation from God: "Don't let feelings of failure weigh you down. Instead, try to see yourself as I see you."
This is the promise that God created me to live under: God loves me, and because he loves me, he sees me as beautiful. Period. Can I believe him so that he can fulfill this pre-fall and post-resurrection promise in my life?
Rather than abandoning me to act sinful, God invites me into acting saved. Rather than leaving me indentured as a slave to shame, God releases me to unfettered freedom. Rather than only rescuing me from how I've been wounded, God heals me whole, as if the evil never occurred.
I reach for my list, topped by my phone throwing and Halloween hula girl egg-chucking escapade and continuing through the years with failure after failure — both mine and those done to me — added until the edges curl up with age. I tear it up. First horizontally, then vertically, then again and again until the pieces are tiny snowflakes that I fling into the wind. But it's a new flinging this time: toward freedom.
And you? Where is your list of "ugly"? What will you believe about it and the "you" it represents?
God loves me, and God loves you. Just as we are. And God sees us as he made us: good. Beautiful. Beauty full.
What will you choose? How will you orient your days? Whose words will you trust regarding who you are and what you're doing here? How will you define your value — your beauty? By the Hiss or by your God?
Becoming Beauty Full You
1. Can You Hear the Hiss?
God does not love you! sit with this lie, and then invite God into it. When have you felt most unloved by God? What does God say about you, even in that ugly moment? Let his words of truth silence the Hiss. God loves you. He made you in his image. fearfully and wonderfully he made you. and he looks at you and says, "You are good."
2. The List
Make a list of your failures: those you've done and those done to you. Line after line, consider the mess. then take it and tear it, first horizontally, then vertically, then again and again until the pieces are tiny snowflakes. fling them into the wind and feel the freedom.
3. She Said — He Said
Reconsider who says what about you, and what you are attuning yourself to, through this essay by Karen schelhaas. are you listening to the Hiss ("she said") or to God ("He said")? What would you write in your own two columns?
She's persuasive, pushy even. I keep thinking I can unfriend her, but she insists I keep her around. she speaks in ways that are familiar to me. I listen.
she says I'm a mediocre spouse, that the sum of my failures is a giant slap in the face of Christian marriage. this is a hole I've dug, and there is no new, higher ground.
He says, "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert, and streams in the wasteland" (Isaiah 43:19). He takes broken, hard things and makes them soft, even new.
She says if my kids or friends act out or lose control, I should back away, especially in public. she whispers that my good name is all I've got.
Excerpted from Hello, Beauty Full by Elisa Morgan. Copyright © 2015 Elisa Morgan. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsIntroduction: hello, Beautiful!, xv,
Part One — Hello: Seeing Yourself the Way God Does,
1. The Hiss, 3,
2. Not Me!, 17,
3. Shedding Shame, 35,
4. Living Loved, 45,
Part Two — Beauty: Seeing Your Beauty the Way God Does,
5. Voice: Beauty in Your Unique Personality, 63,
6. Vessel: Beauty in Your Physical Body, 83,
7. Womb: Beauty in Your Creative Purpose, 107,
8. Scar: Beauty in Your Painful Story, 123,
9. Sway: Beauty in Your Influential Legacy, 141,
Part Three — Full: Living Your Beauty Full Life,
10. To The Brim — and More!, 165,
PS — A word to Moms, 185,
About the Author, 203,