Red nails, red lips, chunky jewelry, scarves, big earrings and bracelets that clink like a cymbal when I walk...those are the things I love to embellish myself with when I head out the door. As I put all of those colors and metals on my lips, hands and wrists, are those the things that make me beautiful? Is it one of those things or all of them combined that classify me as attractive? If my nail chips or I lose an earring will I lose my status as eye catching?
As I await my cornea transplant, God has stretched me to look beyond the beauty we see with the naked eye. As a self-professed "sun worshipper" and lover of a deep dark tan, it is a cruel twist that I now long for dark rooms and my room darkening shades. Sunlight glistening off of the snow used to be a welcome promise of Spring, now it's torture when I look outside without my darkest sunglasses.
Yet God hasn't taken away my physical sight and left me alone in the darkness to grope for material things to adorn myself with to help me feel beautiful. He has forced me to peel back that layer of confusion to reveal a deeper definition of beauty.
Five years ago I was gifted with an amazing idea that has allowed me to feel beauty like I had never known. I say gifted, because it fell in my lap at a time when I least expected. In fact, when I received it, I didn't even realize it was a gift. It began as a spark, a tiny sliver of an idea.
Was there a way to let young girls know how deeply they were loved by their father in heaven? Was there a forum for Him to speak to high school and junior high school girls to let them know that they were worth the wait in our over sexualized culture? Not a lecture, not a speech, not another list of do's and don'ts, but rather a deep method of touching their spirits in such a way as to let girls know why it mattered to their Heavenly Father that they understood their value.
That was the moment that PINC (Purity Is No Compromise) was born. A retreat held every spring whose sole purpose is to immerse 6th-12th grade girls in an experience that brings them face-to-face with their Heavenly Father and imparts to them His standard for their lives. Based on a two day format, Friday evening is centered on the cross and the need for Christ in their lives. We do that through a series of experiences that appeal to each of their senses. It's very interactive and each experience forces them to look below the surface of superficial responses. Saturday is a building block and the girls are divided up based on age and life experience and placed in sessions that address specific challenges they may be facing. There are also large group activities including art and drama exposure.
April 4&5, 2014 will be the fifth year for this retreat. It has run in many different formats with many different volunteers, and amazing participants - each who has left their stamp of beauty on the event. This years' committee is stronger than ever and their commitment to following the call of the Holy Spirit is overwhelmingly evident. I love sitting with them, planning with them and strategizing with them. But planning this event is not when I feel beautiful. I feel strong, inspired, capable even confident (most days), but not beautiful.
As I continue to peel back the layers of this gift - this sliver of an idea that God has grown from 14 attendees the first year to 50 participants last year, I've uncovered a feeling of beauty that no amount of red lipstick (and I adore Saucy Sangria #14 by L'Oreal!) or sparkly gems have ever evoked before. I feel most beautiful when I am sitting eye to eye and pouring into these amazing girls. I love making them feel like they are the only person in the world and listening to each word, wiping each tear and challenging every self-deprecating thought they process through.
During this time of transition waiting, praying and longing for my vision to return, I am seeing beauty with greater clarity than ever before. It is no longer a question of when I think I look most beautiful, rather it is all about understanding God's purpose for my life and embracing the moments He has given me when I feel the most beautiful.
If you are interested in registering a 6th-12th grade girl for PINC this year, find registration information at www.pincretreat2014.eventbrite.com Don't delay!