Beauty in Diversity

Tissue paper rustled as the gifts were opened. Eyes looked eagerly at the soft baby blankets and adorable baby clothes. I peered around at this group of beautiful women. Long hair, short hair, heavy make up and none at all. The gal to my left wore stylish booties and I had on my simple leather flip-flops. Skirts and skinny jeans side by side. Across the room sat a beautiful middle eastern woman, shiny gold necklace hanging below her burka and stunning dark eyes.

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We spoke slowly and added a few gestures to make sure she was able to follow the conversation. She is a brave soul to cross the ocean and jump into another world and another culture. To suddenly be the one who doesn’t understand many things.
What is a “garage sale”? What is a “sister in law”?

Back home, she had completed cosmetology school and was able to hold a respected job, here she is attending English classes every day, an outsider. Once that’s tackled, she starts over with cosmetology school, in a foreign language surrounded by pale blond haired women. And yet, we all sat around and watched as a friend opened baby gifts.
We smiled and chatted. Different and yet all the same.

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Recently a small online group started, all of us moms on a quest to live more purposefully and healthfully, to make good choices about our time, food and even tone of voice as we speak to our children. I cannot tell you how healthy this place has become. Each day we check in, and say how our day went and if we met our goals. It is also a place where we ask for prayer if our day is rotten or if we simply need some encouragement.

This morning, one girl bravely spoke up,
“…Most of you do not need to lose the weight like I do, but all coming together to better our health is so encouraging. I’ll be honest, I have about XX lbs to lose. (It’s very humbling to reveal this)… So thank you all for keeping me accountable…
Pray I will continue to be faithful and committed, if you think of it.”

Even though weight is not my issue, I have other very real and difficult issues. I typed back to her,
“While we may not all be fighting the exact same battles,
we are all fighting battles and in this together.”

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God created so much beauty in diversity, and he made all things well.
All shades of skin, widely varying body shapes and personality types.
God obviously is an artist with wide and vibrant tastes, and we all fit into his beautiful plan. But how quickly the beauty fades when we let comparison steal the unique quality God intently created.

It reaches far deeper than how much mascara you wear, or how good you look in skinny jeans. The cold fingers of judgement and comparison reach deep into our lives, and drive icy wedges between people who are intended to be arm in arm in our walk on this world. Fear and isolation takes the place of deep safety and fellowship.

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Grief and trauma often catapults us into a place of dark isolation.
The little girl who was raped by a relative goes into shock and tries to pretend everything is ok.
The newlywed who just miscarried feels like a failure and that no one knows the silent lonely loss she is facing.
The wife whose husband works long hard days with unpredictable hours serves supper cold again, and feels none of her friends know, or care.
The chilling report from the doctor locks the grandfather into a time frame he doesn’t know how to handle.
The refugee left shivering on the rocky coast after an endless night on the waters, holding her infant and all she now owns in a small bag.

This could be you, this could be me.

We ALL face battles. And while we may feel alone, we are not.
Every person you walk past in the grocery store today is a story.
They each carry words unspoken that burn deep,
and have carved the story on their soul.

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If you have walked a deep valley, and come out into the sunshine again, pause.
Look around.
Open your heart to see those still in the shadows.
Stretch out your hand and offer hope.
Courage.
Even just a deep breath and smile of acknowledgment, a word of support- these are the hands of Christ. Maybe he wants you to reach out of your comfort zone, and step into someone else’s journey.
To guide or accompany as they face their battle today.

Jesus left us here on earth to spread his love, in real and physical ways.
He suffered to assure us that we would never be alone in our suffering. In our tears, and in our joys. His promise to always be with us stands forever.

While we may not all be fighting the exact same battles,
we are all fighting battles and in this together.

Let your hand be an expression of hope today.
Let your words give life.
Let your smile assure someone they are not alone.

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Photo credits go again to grettagraphy.com and were taken over her time in the refugee camp.

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