I had a photoshoot a few weeks ago, with a very talented designer. In my retirement, I'm only taking small amounts of work, but I was thrilled for this opportunity. It was freezing outside and, though I wasn't showing yet, my pregnancy hunger pains were really kicking in! We spent 3 hours on a frigid roof top- the designer, photographer and I, and although I was trying my best to be professional, my starvation and the temperature were getting the best of me. I decided to distract myself by admiring the sky scrapers that surrounded us.
In every big city I visit, a highlight for me is to experience downtown life. I enjoy the crowds and muffle of a thousand different conversations happening at once. I also really love looking at sky scrapers and how completely luxurious they always seem to be! But I notice that, although they are beautiful and strong, you're never able to see inside of these buildings; the architectural structure only allows you to see the frame.
Sadly, there are so many of us who live our lives like Sky Scrapers: immaculately shut off.
We each have human needs that go beyond the physical. If we have the essentials: food, air, and shelter, we can survive. But to truly thrive in abundance requires spiritual and emotional needs that are necessary to be fulfilled. Identity, security, purpose and love- these are all essentials that each of us longs for, but the fulfillment of such requires that we open up the doors to our lives and to our hearts. We weren't meant to be sky scrapers- cold, distant and unmovable. We need community- people who we can trust with our innermost selves. People who love us, through the love of Christ. In life, we will sometimes find ourselves in moments when we become tempted to clothe ourselves with hardness or coldness, in order to keep us safe from the problems in our lives. I hope this article will deter us from living in fear. Sky scrapers are beautiful, but they aren't meant to be our models for living.
From the time we are born, we demand a sense of security. As babies, we find this in our mothers, as adolescence, we search for it through various relationships. Why? Because security creates a sense of confidence. We all long for the assurance of acceptance and safety, which builds confidence, but neither is guaranteed. Relationships fail, friends change, family members pass on and, if we put our confidence in what changes, then the results can create resentment in our hearts. We can grow cold and hard-hearted when our attempts at earning security and acceptance fail, but this doesn't have to be our reality. True, nothing is guaranteed- except for God's unconditional love and acceptance, that is. Although our circumstances are constantly changing, God is eternal and He can be trusted to give us the rest and security that our hearts need.
Our Heavenly Father is our eternal protection. He is our security and His banner over us is love (Song of Solomon 2:4) and, in any challenge, storm or uncertainty, He will not leave us in times of trouble. No matter what happens, He is the anchor for our souls and He will lead us into all things that will fulfill our hearts, if we allow ourselves to trust Him. When we believe His word and trust His love for us, we can have sweet security in God’s abiding presence and avoid the mistake of growing a cold soul. That's true safety.
"The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him"-Nahum 1:7
"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you"
Identity and Purpose
We are always trying to define ourselves in relation to other people. Are you a best friend? The fun one? A mother? A career-woman? People often identify us based on our performance, but we were never called to be all things to all people. Many of us struggle with our identity because we've yet to uncover our purpose. The two are tied together, but they have nothing to do with impressing others.
The validity and value of who we are and what we were created for has nothing to do with what we can do. It has nothing to do with our talents, our circle of friends, our ability or our lack. When your friends change and your job lets you go- if you are sick or healthy, if you are single, divorced or married- you are still you and God still made you for a specific purpose. None of those things define you- they are just attributes of who you are. It's like a building- paint doesn't change the property value. God knows our true identity – the one that is whole and complete, the secret places of your soul that only He can see.
Performing for others is like trying to crawl up the outside of a building. It's exhausting and ridiculous. If you really desire to excel to the next level, walk through the door and use the elevator. God is our mobility to success! Scripture states that we are fearfully and marvelously made and that God knew us before we were even conceived (Jeremiah 1:5)! You are not on accident and God created you with a specific purpose in mind (Jeremiah 29:11). No one can tell you why you were created- except God. Going through the motions of defining ourselves to fit the mold of someone else's expectations can leave us hallow. Performing for others will eventually exhaust us and the results are always counter productive. But, when we discover the power and presence of God's love within ourselves, we have found our true identity- one that doesn’t depend on what others think or see. We are, and always will be, the valuable treasures of a Holy God. The more we seek Him, the more we find ourselves.
"But whoever is united with the Lord is one with Him in spirit"-1 Corinthians 6:17
“The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me"-Psalm 138:8
There is nothing on earth as cold as a woman who's heart has been betrayed and broken. We've all had our moments. We know what it's like, and deep down, we know being hard hearted doesn't protect us from future hurt- it only perpetuates it through other relationships and experiences. We cannot shield ourselves from pain and attempting to do so ends up hurting us in the long run. Love is the light that we all need to melt away the ice and the glass that pain tries to encase us in. Love is not synonymous with romance. God’s love is eternally available and unconditional, and, because He loves us, He places people in our path who will love us, too.
In our techno, "free-sex", self-centered society, it can be scary to entrust our secret selves to others because so many of us have been badly burned in the past. We've let callouses grow over our hearts and mistake this for an inner strength. But scripture is clear that we must love one another. If we hold ourselves back from people, how can we love them properly? How can we expect to be loved? Fear tells us to stand at a distance, be always guarded, least someone get over on us. It might keep us from risks, but it will also keep us from living. Open up the windows and let love in! How can we expect to be open to God who we can't see, if we refuse to be open to people that we do see? Trust that God only has good for you and the people He will surely bring your way, who love Him and live their lives out of love for Him, will certainly be able to love you, too. This doesn't mean that there won't be times of testing, but it's so nice to know that God cares enough about us to connect us with others, as well as with Himself.
"Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble" -Ecclesiastes 4:9
"The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray"-Psalms 12:26
“I am with you always to the end of the age"-Matthew 28:20
Are you a sky scraper- tall, beautiful, but closed off? Today, as you reflect and pray, examine yourself. Are there any spiritual or emotional needs that we've discussed that you need God to fulfill in your heart? Are there any doors or windows that you need to take an alarm down from? I know it might seem scary, but there are crowds of people just hoping that you will be the one to let them in, because they are also searching for identity, purpose, security and love! Once we find our fulfillment of such things in the Lord, He will begin to use us to fill others up as well. A sky scraper might be beautiful, but a welcoming home with open doors and opened hearts feeds more souls and makes better and lasting impacts! So, let the SON shine in! Know that you have more to offer than just what's on the outside!
P.S. Wanna see more of my fashion work? Check out my portfolio here!
This Gray Suede ensemble was designed and created by the very talented Uvana Doran, of Greensboro, NC, by way of New York. It was an honor to model for her, as well as to work with the very talented photographer, Adley Haywood. Please visit each of their sites if you are in need of their unique services!