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Image I barely looked in the mirror before we left the house and only later discovered on FaceBook what everyone could see that night.  My cheeks and nose were bright pink from Rosacea, as I had not covered and powdered adequately, my hair was limp and barely combed, my eyes were dull with little make-up and no energy left for my typically animated character to shine through.  The days of sorting through my mother’s belongings had taken its toll on my appearance and I wish I could say that it didn’t bother me at all to later to see how I appeared to others.  But, vanity was furious; I heard her griping in my head.  Why hadn’t I taken five minutes to freshen up?  A bit of make-up and few seconds with a hot curling iron and all would have been well, no need for later regrets. Often I listen to vanity.  (This is a horrible admission for any women’s minister to make.)  The truth is that we live in an image-driven society and the “face” we present to the world counts for something.  Unfortunately, I have often misinterpreted what it counts for.  I have bemoaned my not-white teeth, my pear-shaped figure, my plain looks, my short frame, not to mention having a bright pink nose and cheeks … why couldn’t God have given me my mother’s beautiful green eyes, her smooth and creamy complexion, my sister’s white teeth, my other sister’s proportional frame and moderate eating tendencies?  I used to worry over this nonsense constantly as an adolescent, and I can’t say that I never think of these concerns now, especially the more I travel as an actress and teacher, the more I get on social media. But God got my attention right as I was beginning this new chapter of becoming a women’s minister.  Though His voice wasn’t audible, He asked me to think about the women that I identify with most, the ones who are able to teach me, speak truth into my life.  I chewed on this thought for a time and began to see that it wasn’t the ones with the perfect hair, whitest teeth or best figures.  Instead, I am drawn to God-honoring women who stand bare before others, washed in His grace.  They do not wallow in their mistakes or flaunt their past lives or sinful actions, but they don’t hide behind a mask of perfection, either.  They stand beneath floodlights and allow others to see the transformation the Holy Spirit is doing in them and through them.  Sometimes they have bad skin, ill-mannered children, or messy houses.  Sometimes they have a stutter or a limp, but they always possess a sweet spirit.  They aren’t merely survivors, they are blossoming, fruit-bearing plants. So, as I stared at the picture of me on FaceBook with my bad hair and blotchy skin, I remembered the importance of my visit, how important it was to simply take part, be seen, be real.  Because I didn’t waste time trying to be perfect, I was able to grieve and laugh, remember and also enjoy the present.  I was able to make new connections, new friends, new memories.  If I focus on the outer shell, which God reminds me is temporal and decaying, I will lose sight of the eternal and I was lose my opportunity to make an impact for Him.  Sometimes the most important impact is the lesson He is teaching me, right here, right now. For further meditation: Galatians 5:16-24, 1 Samuel 16