I never learned how to sew my own dresses, and while I have a pretty extensive shoe collection, a pair of Chacos are not part of it. My first experience with Tolkien was joining some college friends for the midnight showing of the first installment of The Lord of the Rings series, and my idea of dressing up for the movie was wearing a cardigan and pearls. (Although, those elf gowns were pretty chic.)
What’s more, I will never forget the reaction an acquaintance had when I asked, “Who is Beth Moore?” Had I committed some sort of blasphemy? Clearly, if there was a code for doing ‘Christian single female,’ I had not cracked it.
That is not to say that I did not try. I observed the female Christian culture of my college campus and gathered my data. I concluded I would mold myself into what I thought it looked like to be a ‘good’ follower of Christ. My assessment of good was based on a very scientific study of the outward appearance of all the pretty Christian girls with guitar playing boyfriends.
I reviewed my findings: monogrammed Bible covers, Francine Rivers book clubs, and a rather curious love of camping and zip lines. If I could become one of those girls, I believed, then God would accept me. Thankfully, I didn’t put up that fight long, and embraced the truth that my Nalgene bottle would more likely be filled with Diet Coke rather than electrolyte-enhanced water.
While I had come to terms with the fact that I may not have a future in camp counseling and repelling off rocks, I still was striving for something. Striving for the approval of others: friends, parents, boys, and pastors. Even more deeply, I was striving for the approval of God. I knew He had saved me in His amazing grace, and I even believe He loved me. What I did not believe is that He particularly liked me.
I enjoyed pop music over contemporary Christian and I preferred Live Red Carpet coverage over Sunday night theological debates. God must have thought I was a silly girl, and He definitely liked those other girls better. He must, I thought, because they had boyfriends who wore Chacos and played the guitar.
I read Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus and for the first time, I began to see myself differently. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10)
Masterpiece. I like how the ESV translation calls us His ‘workmanship.’ He crafted me with His hands and I am His work of art. He created me in His image, so He must like me! Why was I so intent on adding to or altering His design?
For some time, I believed the lies that I had to “work my way up” to God liking me. I believed working my way up to this approval required meeting some criteria of a checklist I had created in my mind. A superficial list at best. What I learned though, is that this confusion and insecurity was not at all from God. When I began to let go of striving to be something other than the daughter He created, I was able to begin abiding in His love. A love that gives me my true identity, value, and worth.
I am still learning to let Him mold me, even though I still often want to take on the Potter role myself. It’s just the hipsters instead of the hippies that pull me towards striving instead of abiding. What I am finding, though, is when I let Him take control of reshaping me, I am left feeling much more whole and accepted than I could ever achieve on my own. It’s a beautiful freedom we have when we are secure in our identity in Him.
….but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2)”
So, my look may be ‘basic’ and my heels may be high, but along with my hippie and hipster sisters in Christ, we are all ‘fearfully and wonderfully made!’ (Psalm 139:14)