Week two: Pretty façades and empty spaces

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One day recently I was in line at the grocery store.  It was the first week of the month and the lines were long.  As I waited and shuffled forward, I idly gazed at the magazines and other “impulse” items displayed beguilingly, tempting shoppers with their shiny, colorful covers and promising articles such as “The real you:  know her, love her ” and “I don’t have to be perfect!”

I don’t buy those magazines, but with the line not moving and a few minutes to kill, I picked one up and flipped through it out of curiosity to see if the inside articles delivered on the promises the headlines declared on the outside.  All of the articles were pretty much the same – on one hand encouraging you to be comfortable with who you are, as you are, but then giving you a hundred and one ways to improve yourself as well as ways to impress others by your outer appearance.  For instance, the “real you” article was very short on knowing and loving yourself, then listed tips to enhance and improve yourself.

It reminded me of movie sets and the huge, elaborate houses built for filming outside shots, but the inside is an empty shell, not even finished walls, just enough studs and beams to hold up the frame.  I recently read an article about the house used in the filming of the movie “Practical Magic.”  The story was set in New England, but producers found a location perfect for the setting of the movie on an island in Washington State.  It took only eight months to build a “shell” house for the purpose of filming outside shots, a beautiful, huge Victorian (it was torn down after filming).  However, the stately home was completely empty, all of the interior shots were filmed on a Hollywood studio set.  An enormous amount of time and money was spent on painstaking efforts to make the outside look as realistic as possible including an elaborate garden.  The house was very beautiful, but it was only outside boards, nails and paint, empty on the inside, nothing more than a pretty façade.

I think we’re all guilty of that at times, paying a lot more attention to the glitz and shine on the outside than what we fill our insides with.  I admit that sometimes I spend more time on coordinating and accessorizing outfits and worrying over gray hair (I’m trying to embrace my gray but so far it’s a losing battle) than spending time of the inside.  The world we live in certainly pays more attention to outward appearances and material possessions, placing a great deal of emphasis on youthful appearances, designer labels, the cars we drive and the homes we live in, opulent lifestyles and so many other worldly things.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t want to look our best or shouldn’t have nice homes, cars or clothes.  But when we spend more time on outer appearances and neglect our inner selves that it is displeasing to God.  He looks at things from a totally different perspective and is much more interested in our inner selves than a pretty outside.  He wants to meet us at our deepest level, to face the emotions and motivations that we think we have well hidden.

In last week’s Reflections article, we talked about surrendering all aspects of our lives to Him, both physically and spiritually.  This week we take it a step further.  Surrender is not only about giving up control to Him, but opening the door and allowing Him to come in and sweep out those dusty, empty corners of the old habits and compulsions that led us to neglect our bodies in the first place.  It’s about allowing Him to transform who we are on the inside first, filling us with His Spirit, then the peace and joy we receive will be manifested on our outside.

This week, consider some external things that you may be spending more time on than you should.  In your prayer time and as you exercise, ask God to clean your inner house of anything that stands in the way of allowing Him to transform you and mold you so that you may have a more perfect walk with Him.  If you are journaling, write down any insights that come to mind and use them during your prayer time.

Prayer:

Father God, I thank you for loving me.  You know me at my deepest level, even the things I try so hard to hide from others, You and even myself.  I know that You see past the pretty façades I project on the outside and into the dark corners, yet You love me anyway and will never stop loving me.  Today I surrender to You anything in my life that stands in the way of letting me become closer to You.  Help me to see these things, face them and allow You to empty me of all these things so I can be filled with Your Spirit.  I give my entire being, inner and outer, to You, Lord.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Scripture: 1 Samuel 16:7

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.  The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

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