The HUNGER GAMES As We Know It.

A beautiful woman walked by me in church last week, hair a shining fan of honey, figure stitched by the best. For a moment, I wanted to be her, this lady who had been sculpted by humanity. She catches many eyes, men and women, and we all pause to see this vision, different than she was a month ago. She pretended not to notice and put some pride in her strut. Something about that strut is wrong but I still feel a bit faded with my wash-and-go hair and years-old blouse.

We come to this holy place to worship the Maker, King of all Kings, Creator of mankind, sculptor of hook noses and romans noses, thin lips, full lips, frizzy hair and various ranks of waistlines. We are walking temples, yet we have bowed to the church of man. Even in the midst of Halleluiahs and salvation tears, our insecurities walk like shadows across our eyes. They weave in and out of the chairs, drawing out attention from God to the woman/man with a better _______ than mine. Who do we put in all this effort for? Not God, for like any parent, He must think His children are beautiful. Of course He does, He made us. Could there be a greater purpose for my ghostly pale skin?

What claws at our insides so sharply that we need to fill in the gashes with another’s approval? No matter how much we love exterior beauty, this is starting to feel like an inspection before the slaughter.

It reminds me of Katniss Everdeen, when she considers the deception of appearances in The Hunger Games: “After dinner, we Hunger_gameswatch the replay in the sitting room. I seem frilly and shallow, twirling and giggling in my dress, although the others assure me I am charming. Peeta actually is charming and then utterly winning as the boy in love. And there I am, blushing and confused, made beautiful by Cinna’s hands, desirable by Peeta’s confession, tragic by circumstance, and by all accounts unforgettable.”

What really gets me is how the devil slithers into church, in holy camouflage. He works hard. Really hard, I mean, if I can obsess over my ghostly skin and how I can get a tan like so-and-so’s, then I have completely missed what God was trying to tell me in that moment. I have given God the proverbial slap in the face when I decided to take control over my appearance because what He gave me doesn’t work. Wait – work for what?

Doesn’t He count every hair on my head? Hasn’t He called me uniquely and wonderfully made? Such attention much be for a greater plan than mine.

My imperfections keep me humble. I accepted my pale skin when too many doses of sunshine burned it into cancer. I had that sucker cut out and thanked God for the skin that was still healthy. What’s tan skin when I can find joy in being healthy?

Katniss was forced to look beautiful to increase her odds of survival. No one would sponsor an ugly woman.

But they would still throw her to the wolves.

All the waxing and makeup and designer clothes did indeed help her. Because of it, she captured the interest of sponsers. But those gifts from man’s approval are not what stirred a nation to hope. Not what ultimately led to her victory. It was her inner gifts, those things that have become too cliché to mention because people still want it wrapped in a beautiful package.

Clever plan for a devil. And we take credit for it. We glorify his work in magazines, in movies, in the permission we give others to criticize our appearance to death.

A few people who know my history with skin cancer still tell me I need a tan. Thanks a lot. I don’t need your approval and certainly won’t risk my life for your viewing pleasure. Would you?

Katniss and Peeta became a symbol of hope. Not for their looks, not for the acts they put on to earn sponsors, but for the hope they gave a nation. Isn’t that what we all hunger for anyway? Hope?

In the words of my friend and fellow writer Nikki Hahn, “God doesn’t make ugly.”

Beautiful

I wasn’t going to end my vacation this early. I just finished the first draft of my novel and didn’t have time to write a blog ahead of time like I usually do. Writing ahead allows me to come back and edit, making for smoother reading without so many typos and cleaning up my tendency, toward, comma – happiness,,.

But God woke me up with a message.

He brought to my mind the pampas grass outside my bedroom window.

Every time I look at it, I think of God. The light touches it holy. Something about the OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAway it reaches toward the sun gives me a dose of peace. I often pray when I look at it because I know God is never apart from His creation.

If it reached toward others of its own kind, I would focus on them and make comparisons. Where does it lack fullness… is it as tall as its cousin in the neighbor’s yard?

But the light hits it so lovely and it always points to the Son. It reaches toward the sky with such grace, I know that it lacks nothing.

If its arms lowered to peek at its cousin, it may forget to rise up again because the cousin next door is oh so beautiful. Maybe it would forget to stand up straight because the cousin looks so abundant, every arm in place, a perfect curve on top.

Its beautiful arms slouch. Heaviness presses them down until they no longer receive the nourishment from the sun; the center lays empty, exposed to the world.

And it withers – it’s beauty darkens, drains into the earth. It catches the loose branches blown from the neighboring yard and stuffs itself full of another’s beauty, but instead of glowing, it lays heavy in shadow.

Friends, if you lean too heavily toward the world, it will strip away your peace, your self-esteem. You don’t need the curves or abundance of your neighbor. When you shine with God’s glory – when you stand tall in the beautiful way He made you – others will see it true. If you reach in the right direction, you will point others toward His perfect peace.

If we point toward God, our daughters won’t feel like their self-worth lies in the eyes of guys. If we reach toward our creator, our sons will see true beauty, and marry girls that shine with God’s glory.

If we let God be our focus, our children will know how to mend the broken places.

God is endless grace. He blows in Fall to clean the dead branches away, and wraps us with Spring, making us new again.

And He says, “Rest in Me, grow toward me, My beautiful creation. And I will bring you peace.”