About four months ago, I did what’s called the “big chop”! That’s a phrase that is popularly used among African American women who have decided to forgo hair relaxers that would alter our natural curl to make it straight. For decades I have used hair relaxers, and my hair was somewhat a medium length. But, recently to get back to my natural texture, I chopped it off! Now instead of sporting 12 inch hair length, it’s more like three inches long when it’s curly. Not everyone was happy with what I did. Many had some unkind comments even if some were indirect. But, consider this… what if I had cancer and lost all of my hair from the treatment? What if I had a disease called Alopecia in which the consequences is hair loss due to my body’s immune system attacking my hair follicles? The most important thing, when the temporary disappears either by personal choice or otherwise, is that my inner person, my heart, is still the same. Though it may become stronger in the ways of the Lord, through such experiences, not basing my value or allowing others to determine my self-worth based on my looks, but tending to what’s on the inside of me is what lasts and what should be honorable unto the Lord. When that’s done, if I lose what’s on the outside, I cannot lose what’s on the inside, which stays with me, and cannot be taken away from me. We get a peek into what’s important to God in 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV; “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 people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’ ” This is what we are to model our inner selves after.  This is what is to be evaluated in others, and what others should look for in you.  All after the heart of The Lord.  For in that, child of God, is where your innate joy and firm confidence resides!

Recently you may have been dealing with undue & unGodly criticism of your outward appearance.  Accused of being too thick.  You looked better with your hair…  He’s ugly…  Whatever the remarks have been, be reminded you that you are beautiful the way God made you! Those who negatively comment, expressing disdain for your outer appearance resent something about themselves, in addition to having an “inner spirit” that is not set on the things of God, but instead it is set on fleshly (no pun intended) things. 1 Peter 3:3,4 NIV says; “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” These verses teach us that we are to be concerned with things that are eternal & “unfading”, not temporary as are outward appearances. Of course this does not suggest we walk around unkempt. Nor does it mean, for those of us who have a natural talent and flare for style that we should not enjoy participating in dressing fashionably.  It also does not mean that we should not strive to keep our bodies healthy with periodic exercise and healthy eating habits, for our bodies are the dwelling places of the Spirit of the Most High God.  What these verses are advising is to place worth in that which is most important and lasting. Life is ever changing, as are people and their varying and unique opinions. If you measure your value by your looks, you will be unstable in your opinion of yourself, becoming a human version of a chameleon all in efforts to be accepted. In doing this, you continuously set yourself up for disappointment and exhaustion when you cannot consistently live up to what others expect of you.

In instances where you are in the presence of continuous opinionated negativity, being judged based on your appearance, stand strong in the Word of the Lord! Many blessings have been lost, missed, and forfeited due to choices made that were set upon the shaky and shifting grounds of outward appearances. This issue is not solely relative to personal relationships and outward beauty, but also equally applies to healthcare, educational, and business relationships in regards to race, gender, education level, ethnicity, and socioeconomic standing. You may be an experienced and well-prepared Mexican or African American nurse, but a patient didn’t want your services because you weren’t the race or ethnicity they desired.  Yet, you know in your heart of hearts, you are a Divinely designed nurturer and are great at your job.  I just read about a person who was desperately seeking direction from an adviser, but turned down the person available to him because the available person did not fit his external criteria for an adviser.  As this man experienced others he thought would fill his needs, he found they all came up short.  Could it be the one he’s been rejecting, based on outward appearances, is the very one who holds his blessing?  It certainly is possible.  Despite what a person thinks, despite if they have chosen or chooses to leave for another person who they think “looks” better, be confident in knowing that the most valuable blessing you bring to the people around you is what you carry in your spirit. If that is pleasing in The Lord’s sight and yet is not what they appreciate and see as valuable, let them go. God will send more suitable opportunities your way!

At this day and time, we still need to learn to look beyond what we perceive as external barriers to find the beauty within ourselves that connects us in unity.  As we push forth in that process of finding and living out the unity of the Love of God, when the unnecessary, the temporary, the fading, gets in the way, refuse to be set back. Resist trying to get them back. Renounce the feeling of being taken aback by such types of attack.  Stay in peace with an understanding that it’s not the bling on the outside, but your inner shine is what matters most.  And, simply pray that God will enter the hearts and have His way with your critics. Ignore their hurtful comments, leaving them in the hands of The Father, because you are made in the image & likeness of God, who penned your unique design, weaved you together in your mother’s womb, and spoke forth, “And it is Good!” Be assured that when the Word of the Lord is spoken, the Church says “Amen!” because it is so!

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