May 7, 2010

YOU Are Pretty

Grabbing Hold of Shiny Thoughts

Rachel Olsen

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

Sitting in the overstuffed chair at Barnes & Noble I feel undersized. My feet don't quite touch the floor with my back against the cushion. So I pull my legs up and fold them beneath me, making a bird's nest of my lap. I pour my attention onto the pages of my selected book. People walk past me – surely, it's a busy Sunday afternoon – but I don't notice. I'm enamored with the words before me. I'm following in the footsteps of the author, from my perch in the enormous chair.

Twenty some minutes go by before I look up and stretch. The bookstore café sit s in my sight line, just a few dozen feet before me. People are milling about. None of them in particular stand out. Until I spot the woman, coiffed like a porcelain doll. Ready to be someone's bright-eyed treasure. She's attractive, put together, and carries herself with that certain air only long time southern residents with a good bit of money seem to possess.

I stop scanning the café and watch only her. That is until a dark-haired man in a suit enters a few minutes later and heads to the tail of the coffee line. His suit is out of place for this time and space. But I suspect he could still stand out in a pair of khaki Dockers.

I watch him awhile, inching his way towards the counter, waiting his turn to order an espresso. Then I return my gaze to the woman, now seated at a table with her trendy bag, cell phone, coffee cup and papers, likely doing something important. Or at least doing something well. I notice my pulse has slightly increased. And when I invento ry my thoughts, I find them discussing how to be as attractive and commanding as these two.

That's ironic, given that a few paragraphs back in the book, I'd paused at the author's line, "When did looking good become your god?" The question in the middle of the paragraph had begged me to pull the journal from my purse and write it down for future consideration. After dragging my attention away from the shiny café people, I decide now should be that future time. Placing my pen to the journal page, the ink forms this note to God and self:

"When I see someone, male or female, who looks good in my opinion—or in the world's opinion, as the two are entirely too synonymous at times—my attention fixates. I find my pulse even quickens. This happens whenever I like what I see—be it a person, a painting, or a ripe plum. I admire and desire it. And, honestly, I find myself longing today to elicit that kind of response in others. Why??

Probably becau se it seems powerful. Probably because a mind that is not set on Christ derives too much pleasure from being admired. But here I sit today, a bit disheveled, in need of a haircut, with my feet in my lap like a child. And what's equally honest is I want to enjoy sitting here like this without regret. Without worry that I'm not a shiny, suit person right now. I wish I looked my best at all times, and at the same time, I don't want to be driven by that wish. I see that for what it would truly be: slavery to image. I want to look nice when it's fun for me to, or necessary for me to look professional. But I don't want looking good to become my god. Thank You God, that You look at my heart and not my appearance."

And with that, having taken my thoughts captive, I return to my chosen book. Contented. With my feet in my lap like a child. And I walk some more in the author's footsteps, forgetting all about myself and the shiny people in the café. My mind has just tasted freedo m in Christ—it tastes much sweeter than the world's best espresso and crème.

Dear Holy Spirit, help me be aware of my thoughts today. Bring them consciously before me, and help me line them up with Truth. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

I received this email almost a month ago and I have read it numerous times since then.
Proverbs 31 Ministries sends me daily encouragement emails, sometimes they stick and
sometimes I read them and don’t think twice about the message. This one stuck, big
time. I am ALWAYS that girl. No matter where I go I find myself “checking out” other
people, women mostly. “Am I as pretty as she?” “How can I pull off that same outfit?”
“Look how put together she looks.” These are the thoughts that frequent my mind all the
I mean surely I don’t want to look like I just rolled out of bed when I’m in public. I
want people to look at me that same way and think that I look put together and pretty.
But why? Does it matter? I mean have we {society} really become that fixated on
appearances that we are afraid to go to the grocery store or {gasp} Starbucks without a
stitch of makeup on?
Maybe being pregnant has opened my eyes to the problem that exists within me. When
you lose control of your body it sort of forces you to see things in a different light. I’m
already 17 {give or take} pounds heavier than I’ve ever been and that is hard to deal with
at times. My clothes don’t fit, my shoes are starting to feel tighter, and some days I just
don’t feel “pretty”. But to who?
So what if I don’t have perfectly coifed hair and a chip-free mani/pedi, are those things
that are important at the end of the day? For me the answer is now, “no”. Don’t get me
wrong I’m still not going to go out in public in my PJs or without showering, but I will
try to stop being so engrossed in others.
I don’t want Kendall growing up constantly worrying about appearances and comparing
herself to other girls/women. I know it’s inevitable, in this day and age, but I don’t want
her to be obsessed with materialistic objects or unattainable ideas of what beauty is.
{Cue the theme to “Price of Beauty”, Jessica} I want her to be happy with who she is on
the inside and so I guess that starts with me.
Do you ever catch yourself doing the same thing? What defines beauty to you? I’d love
to hear your thoughts.


  1. wow, wow, wow…. what a message!!!! beauty to me is when you find the beauty within yourself! Thank you so much for sharing!!!

  2. i love this!! im going to link up to it! i completely agree, you dont want (esp. a girl) your daughter to grow up comparing herself to others and feeling like she is never good enough. well said.

  3. What a great post! I constantly find myself doing the same things, always comparing myself to others. It's so stupid! How great that you are wanting Kendall to have such a good example!

  4. Great post! I do the same thing at times. I find myself wanting things or wanting to be like others.

  5. wonderful post girl. you are going to be an amazing mom!