Standards of Beauty

整形外科 - Plastic Surgery

整形外科 (Plastic Surgery)

I am currently on a company trip to Hong Kong, Beijing, and Taipei. This post is just an observation about the beauty standards that are prevalent here. It’s not really a spiritual post, it’s just some things that have been going through my mind since I arrived. I think it dovetails nicely with Rebekah M.’s last post, The Monster in the Mirror. Please don’t take this post as criticizing the culture. I am well aware that my own culture is just as flawed and has just as many ridiculous standards. These are just my thoughts and observations.

There is an impossible standard of beauty here. This is true the world over, but it seems especially prevalent here. It amazes me that I can take a walk and get handed packs of tissues from at least three different plastic surgery outfits on a single street.

Plastic surgery is increasingly common in the west, but it’s still pretty much relegated to celebrities and the super rich. Here, it’s not uncommon for your average woman to seek it out. There’s nose jobs to be had, chin chiseling (to get that impossible heart-shaped face), double eye-lid surgery, liposuction, and the surgery to help you get rid of your radish legs. In other words, surgery to change you from something perfectly normal to something supposedly more attractive. There’s even a strangely popular procedure to turn your areolas into hearts. Really? Who would want or need such a thing? Especially something that so obviously can only be accomplished through surgery?

All of the constant focus on beauty here makes me feel really insecure. I do not live up to my own culture’s standards of beauty and really don’t live up to this culture’s standard of beauty.

Honestly, I think those women with the extreme heart faces look weird. It’s unnatural. I think the surgery to get a double eye-lid is a disheartening attempt to appear more “western”. Maybe I’m wrong about that, but that’s sure what it seems like. And radish legs? Seriously? I always thought your thighs were supposed to be wider than your calves. This is considered something so ugly that it bears it’s own insult?

I guess it can be compared to the teenage obsession in the US to have a thigh gap. A few months ago I saw a picture one of our youth at church posted on her instagram account. She had photoshopped the picture in order to give the appearance that she had a thigh gap. It was a rather poor photoshop job so that’s how I knew and it made me so sad because she is a beautiful girl. An absolutely gorgeous girl actually. But there’s that impossible standard of beauty everywhere. Pretty girls are not exempt.

So I know it isn’t unique to this area, but perhaps because I’m in a foreign place it’s even more obvious to me. After all, we tend to do a lot more observing when we’re in an unfamiliar environment. Here most girls don’t flaunt their bosoms the way they do back home. You won’t often see low-cut tops, but you know what you do see? Super short skirts and shorts. Legs seem to be the body part of choice to show off. Therefore, they need to be perfect.

Then there’s the whitening creams, celulite reducers, fake eyelashes, and round contacts. The obsession to look…different…better…younger is everywhere. This goes far beyond the typical fat shaming which is done en masse, but also focuses heavily on things that are completely beyond personal control.

For example, being short is an insult. Being someone of short stature myself, I find it interesting. On the one hand, I love coming here and not always being the shortest one in any given gathering. Back home everyone is taller than me. Here, most people are still taller than me, but the difference in height is much less pronounced. I might be the shortest in a group, but it will only be by a few inches rather than by a foot or more. It’s an amazing feeling to be with a group of people and actually be able to talk to them face to face. I have spent my life literally looking up to people. Taller people are often unaware of how uncomfortable it is when they stand too close. The closer they stand, the sharper the angle my neck has to be at in order to look at them (keep this in mind when talking to small children). I sometimes wonder if this is the cause of my chronic neck pain, but that’s another story.

Anyway, this amazing feeling of not being quite so short here is dampened by the fact that here being short is an insult. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone describe another person as “plain and short” as a way to say they aren’t worth anything. They don’t deserve a boyfriend etc. because they are so “ugly – plain and short”. It’s strange to me. Back home being short is just a description, it’s not an insult. Your friends might kid you about it, but you’ll never hear someone call a person short in the same way you hear people call someone fat; like it’s a horrible thing to be – but here you do. It’s strange to me. At least when you insult someone for being fat (which I’m not a fan of either) the person likely has some control over whether they’re fat. When you insult someone for being short, you’re insulting something that they have almost no control over. It’s determined almost entirely by genes. Good nutrition in early childhood can make a difference, but that isn’t something most kids can control.

I say all that to point out how ridiculous the standards of beauty are. There’s actually a ton more examples of this that I could share, but the point is that many of them are literally unattainable (or only possible with surgical intervention). People grow up hating themselves. Hating the bodies that God gave them. If only they knew that they are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

The Monster In the Mirror

I cannot describe how much has happened lately. From long work hours to severe sickness to more, through it all I became more and more run down- going into auto-pilot mode. Although my last post indicated I was going to try to re-ignite the passion and deep devotion I once had for God, I drifted more and more into just existing. Trying to survive each day despite my heart and soul slowly shutting down more and more each day. I went to work, went home, passed out, and did it again except on the times I’d show up in church but even then- my heart was not fully in it.

But then vacation. 

God seems to always know when to make things come to pass that need to and because of certain work restrictions I had been forced to take my vacation time that I had wanted to take this month (because I turned 30 recently) to see my brother and his family last week.

We have an on-time God. 

My brother asked me when he picked me up at the airport what I wanted to do and I told him I was there for rest and restoration- and that is exactly what He provided but not just for myself but for them as well. God reminded me of who I am- one who is filled with hope of the future and secure in His love. My sister-in-law and I had an amazing time of prayer before I left and I know that my God is blessing my brother as well.

With all that said- I’ve set the stage for you to understand that I have recently come out of a place of depression and back into God’s light to understand the significance of my next moment I’m about to talk about.

While talking to a new potential guy last night that I met on my vacation (in church), I talked about how someone asked me to take a ninja mask off last year because it scared her and he asked “did she say that before or after you took the mask off? lol jk.” It really was like a punch in the gut. This guy could NEVER understand just what he truly said to me because we just met less than a week ago. He does not know where God has brought me from.

I was broken as a child. I was completely and fully convinced that I was a hideous monster- ugly beyond all ugly. I remember distinctly in 10th grade when I joined an all female swim club and when I walked out in my bathing suit and they didn’t mock me I stopped and thought “wow, maybe I’m not THAT ugly.”

Over the years, God has been working on my broken soul to see the beauty He created in me. From friends and family and even strangers, He has told me I’m beautiful. Only one of the guys that I have talked to has ever left me the impression he truly believed it, all else I have always doubted when they’d tell me I’m pretty or beautiful- but I know that can change.

Which is why what he said made such an impact

But I know my God is greater. I know a God, King Jesus, who has taken me from a place of believing I am a monster and NO ONE CAN MAKE ME GO BACK THERE EXCEPT MYSELF. I should have said something then- see if he learn that I cannot allow words like that in my life, instead I just typed an “lol” and babbled a little, reeling from feeling pushed back to where I once was. But the amazing part is that my Jesus scooped me up and has given me strength to know that He has taken me from a place of self-loathing and I never have to be there again- no matter what anyone says.  I am beautiful to Him and that is all that matters.

Maybe this will be the end of things with the new potential guy. Maybe he doesn’t even think of me as anything more than a new friend. Time will tell. Regardless, God has shown me again how good and faithful He is.

So for any of you who feel ugly, too fat, too thin, too short, too tall. A monster. A face not even a mother could love. REJECT THOSE WORDS AND THOUGHTS IN JESUS NAME! You are loved! You are beautiful (or handsome!) You are created to bring God joy by merely being in His presence! He longs to be with you, to shower His love on you. Let Him love you. Let Him show you how He sees you in His mirror!

Look the monster in the mirror and find there the beauty within. 

In Him,

Rebekah M.

Ode to the Single Christian Female… Again

It has been a LONG time since I last posted. In part from being busy, partially because I was going through a lot, and partially because I was too lazy to get around the fact my chrome browser did not work with the new wordpress editor (I’m posting from explorer today). But I’m back now.

I recently have had MUCH on my mind/heart this month. This month alone I have had 2 of the guys I used to talk to get engaged to their new significant others and the one guy that I was seeing who was not in church sent me an invite for a baby shower with his new girlfriend. It has been quite interesting.  The feelings that roll through you with that many announcements all at once ebb and flow.

For one that I am still somewhat friends with, I am genuinely happy for. We truly are best as just friends and he is a good person so I am happy that he has found happiness with a wonderful, Godly woman.

The other, resentment in how he treated me sometimes tries to boil back up. He apologized so I know that I chose to forgive him but I am still human. Of all things, facebook made a point to send my phone an actual phone alert that he was engaged! I almost want to block him or defriend him but part of me is too stubborn, not wanting to look like I care since in truth, the only reason I am bothered is not because I want to be with him, but because I felt SO duped by him and yet this person that I felt almost conned by with his smooth talk and lack of action is now getting married and seemingly happy. Jealousy at his happiness and resentment for his past actions is not a pretty look.

And for the one not in church… I felt with such conviction that God was telling me- it’s time to truly, fully let him go. 

I remember once, crying in my friend’s kitchen, asking her if she understood what it felt like to wonder if the love you had for someone will ever be matched again. Wondering if he’ll always be the only one who treated you like a discovered treasure. To know what it is like to have someone look you in the eyes with adoration, who went out of his way to make you smile daily, who never fought with you (seriously), and found ways to gap the distance despite the miles… even traveling 4hrs each way to see you for a weekend…

My heart was still in pieces in the kitchen that day with my friend as she consoled me, but much later when the news came recently of the baby… I knew.  I had chosen God over someone who would have led me down a path that would have been my spiritual destruction. God protects us! He wants only our good! To think that could have been me. Celebrating the fruits of sin instead of waiting for when things are right in God’s eyes.  Do not get me wrong, a child is never to blame, but for those who have a conviction that as the Bible says, premarital sex is wrong, you will understand my statement.

Then I felt God ask me if I trusted Him. Did I trust Him enough to believe in a picture I had seen on facebook recently?

I honestly told Him I know He has power and I know this can be the truth, but it is hard as a human. It is hard to think my favorite broken toy could ever be replaced with something better.

But I know He can

…and so I have been working on finding my way back. Bridging the silence between He and I that I’ve created. It’s been like the roommate you see daily but rarely speak with except some pleasantries here and there and maybe one or two genuine conversations, but not the daily deep one of the past. It is weird how you can still be used by Him to touch people in big ways spiritually and yet lack the desperate unity that you once had with Him. But I’m determined to find my way back. To let the doubt and despair lift.

This morning while praying with a childhood friend over FB messenger over safety while in a country that has been hit by Ebola (she’s teaching English there), I felt the old me coming back. The one who fights in the spirit and breaks down walls and chains not by my might, but through God’s power In His name- Jesus name.

I have been created to be a warrior in Christ.

So sisters (and brothers), join me in taking back the fight- if you are single this is your time to give full devotion to God and the things of Him without the burdens of a family or husband (or wife) to care for. Let us make use of our season of singleness for you never know who will be your Eliazar.

Rebekah M.

God Provides

testToday at work I received a payroll check for one of our employees. The check was a replacement for one that was originally issued more than three and a half years ago that was somehow never cashed. The employee had no idea this check was coming. I live for these moments.

When I saw her I exclaimed that God had sent her a blessing as I handed her the check. Bewildered she stared at it and of course inquired what it was for. After I explained, she nearly broke down. Recently, she has been struggling financially as she had to take a cut in pay last year. She told me that her bank account is currently $33 in the negative. She said that she had committed to sending $100 to a missions work in Cambodia and even though she didn’t have the money, she sent it anyway. She told her father that God would provide the money. Her father was skeptical and said, “How is He going to do that?” She said she didn’t know, but she believed He would. The check she received today was for more than $1200!

Let me be clear that I am not advocating for anyone to be financially unwise. We need to budget and plan accordingly. However, if God places it in your heart to step out in faith and give, and you make a commitment to do so, don’t back out of your commitment. Trust that He will provide!

I live for these moments. It is wonderful to watch God provide for His children and strengthen their faith. She stepped out in faith and God opened His windows of heaven to pour out a blessing! Yes, it was technically already her money, but it was money that she didn’t need or miss at the time (nearly four years ago) and instead it arrived exactly when she needed it! God’s timing is impeccable. She kept her commitment to the souls in Cambodia and put her trust in God. He provided. It is a testimony to her father and it is a testimony to me. To God be the glory!'GOD' 'ALWAYS' ‘PROVIDES' - Philippians 4 verse 19

Thank you, Jesus!

In His Love,

Rebekah L.

PS. Please share your recent testimonies with us.

We love to hear them!

Learning to Love like Jesus

LI have this little problem. I love hard. I love deep. I love people too much. Rather, I love people too selfishly; with too many expectations. I get frustrated when people don’t love me the way that I love them. I find myself feeling disappointed when I don’t receive love back the way that I give it out. Even when people actually love me better than I love them, I have trouble recognizing it when it comes in a form that is unfamiliar to me. In my disappointment I have often told myself that the solution is to love them less. If I didn’t love them so much, it wouldn’t hurt so much when things don’t happen the way I think they should. I have tried countless times to love people less and I fail miserably at it. Why would I try to love someone less? Because the more neutral your feelings toward someone, the less the things they do (or don’t do) affect you. I’m tired of feeling hurt and disappointed. I am tired of hoping things will be different and finding they never are. I’m tired of feeling like I love people so much and they don’t love me back. It’s a lie from the enemy; People do love me. I’m just not that good at recognizing it.

Thank God Jesus is not like me! The truth is that I don’t need to learn to love less; I need to learn to love differently. I need to love with a pure love. A love that doesn’t ask for anything in return. A love without expectation. When the people didn’t love Jesus the way He loved them, did He give up on them or walk away? Did He try to love them less so that it wouldn’t hurt so much if they didn’t love Him back? No, He loves unconditionally. He loved us so deeply that He hung on a cross and died for us. That’s the kind of love I need. I need to learn to love more, not less. I need to learn to consistently be compassionate, turn the other cheek, and forgive. I need to learn to love like Jesus.

Lord, teach me to love like you love. Teach me how to see people the way that you do. Teach me not to view things from my selfish perspective, but to always see them through the mercy and love of the Lord. Teach me to love like Jesus.

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

Freedom from Harassment

For the past two years I have been dealing with blatant sexual harassment from a co-worker. It started when this man asked me out on a date. He was a pastor of a denomination similar to mine and had always been very friendly with me. Although not well known by the English speakers in my company, he was highly respected among the Hispanic employees (He is Latin American) and I was intrigued by him. I agreed to the date.

We had a nice time and I readily agreed to a second date. I began to wonder if it might be God’s plan for us to partner together for the work of the Kingdom. I wanted him to be the one, but I couldn’t shake this feeling in the pit of my stomach that something just wasn’t right. It was after the fourth date that I found out that he is married! He never wore a ring and had never mentioned a wife so I really had no idea. This was not even a case of him being separated, he is a fully married man! Obviously, that was the end for me.

But it was not the end. Not for him. Not by a long shot.

He refused to accept that I was no longer interested in him. He refused to back down. He would not leave me alone. He would beg me to give him a chance. He would come to my office and tell me the explicit things he fantasized about doing with me. He would tell me that I was in his heart and mind. He would plead with me to have sex with him “just one time. Just one time, por favor.”

Suddenly the man who had always seemed so friendly became aggressive and frightening. It didn’t matter how many times I said no, he wouldn’t stop. He began purposely trying to intimidate me. He would block my exit from my office. He would follow me into the women’s restroom. He would be waiting at my car when I tried to leave for the day. If I wrote all of the things he said and did over the last two years, you would be amazed (and perhaps judgmental) about the fact that I did not do more to stop it. For a while I was paralyzed by it. It was scary to me. I didn’t know how to handle it.

I determined in my heart that I didn’t want to be the reason that this man lost his job. He has a family to support. I kept praying that God would have mercy on him and grant him a heart of repentance. I prayed that he would get a revelation of God that would change his behavior. When things didn’t seem to change I began to pray that God would get this man away from me. I didn’t really care how it happened; I just wanted it to happen. I prayed he would repent and leave me alone. When it seemed he wasn’t going to do that I prayed he would transfer to another location in our company. When that didn’t happen I prayed he would find another job or quit. I just kept praying for God to get him away from me.

It took a while, but eventually I began to see things differently. God helped me to fight the battle spiritually. He helped me to recognize that this man is under the influence of Satan and he needs deliverance. He never changed his behavior, but the effect it had on me changed. I stopped being afraid. I stopped letting it linger in my mind. I just kept giving it to God. Somewhere along the way, the peace of God began to replace the negative thoughts and feelings I had. I began to focus all my prayers on his soul. He is a man who is spiritually in a very dangerous place.

Yesterday I got notice that this man is being laid off. Finally, he will be away from me. I pray that he is able to find another job quickly, but I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I feel relief. I find it interesting that it wasn’t until I found peace in the situation that the answer to my prayer came. I’m not saying that he is being laid off because of my prayers, but it is an answer to my prayer. I could have had him fired a long time ago, but I didn’t want to be personally responsible for him losing his income.

I have mixed feelings about this. I rejoice in my deliverance, but I grieve for his continued bondage. I pray that he does not become a problem for someone else. May God have mercy on his soul.

Have you ever experienced something like this in your walk with God?

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

Send Me

I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me.” -Isaiah 6:8

I have exciting news. I will be going back to China and Taiwan! It will be another short trip through my company similar to the one I went on last year. It won’t be for a while, perhaps not until spring, but the plans are falling into place. I have no idea what the spiritual significance will be, but I have no doubt that this is the will of the Lord. I had to go through several steps over a period of months during the selection process which entailed completing an application, submitting an essay, getting letters of recommendation, having a panel interview, and taking a Chinese proficiency test. At each one of these steps I prayed for the Lord to either open the door or close the door according to His will. From a human perspective I am far from the best candidate for the job so I know that being selected was only by the hand of the Lord. He has a purpose for allowing me another opportunity to go and I am humbled, grateful, and excited. I pray that He will allow me to be a vessel to reach the souls I come across. Lord open doors, open doors, open doors!

In His Love,
Rebekah L.