I recently learned of the book Paperdoll by Natalie Lloyd from another blogger I follow. In response to the book, she wrote: "If I'm really honest, I don't know that there's ever been a time, even in my most confident and contented moments, that the question of "am I beautiful?" has not been lingering quietly somewhere deep down. It's difficult to not feel the pressure from the media, magazines and even just interacting with society. Will I ever be thin enough, pretty enough, funny enough, smart enough...or just enough? Ahh, see, the problem is not the question, but where we look for the answer. If I seek the world to know my definition of beauty, I will most certainly always fall short. If I seek the true Artist, the Creator of beauty, the one who knows my inmost being and every flaw and shortcoming, and yet STILL calls me beautiful...that, my friends, is where the answers to all my questions lie."
Her words struck a chord with me. In my head I know that only God's opinion matters and that he created me to be exactly who I am and for an exact purpose. In my heart it can be a constant battle to remind myself of those truths and not let the world (or a magical "if I just had this in my life" wish) define who I am. The book is geared toward young adults but sometimes it reads a bit younger- it would certainly be appropriate for high school and college girls to read. There's also an option to go through this book with a friend or as a small group- there's a pretty in depth study guide in the back complete with song recommendations. The song recommendations of course include the requisite Christian music bigwigs but there's some gems on there too- how many people have even heard of Rosie Thomas or Laura Story?
The premise of the book is "what happens when an ordinary girl meets an extraordinary God." Lloyd unpacks the story of the Samaritan woman at the well, how she must have felt as she walked to get water, unaware she had a divine appointment waiting for her. The back cover reads "True love- the kind that makes you healthy and whole, as you are meant to be- is waiting at the well. If you feel like your life is flat and two-dimensional, it's time to let God fill you up with the kind of love that makes extraordinary things possible. You'll never be ordinary again." Lately I've been feeling stuck. I want God to use my life for his glory and I don't want my baggage to get in the way of it. In the middle of all of this, I've been praying about a big life change and trying to figure out all the ramifications if I move forward. At the same time, I want the Holy Spirit to be leading me now during this in between time. I want to trust that just because my dreams aren't being realized now, doesn't mean they never will or that God won't do immeasurably more than I ask or imagine. Sometimes I feel like I've been dealing with the same issues for far too long but when I look back at my life, I do see the progress and I know God has been helping me tackle these issues one step at a time. The process of sanctification is never as fast as we'd like it.
I read the first chapter last night and it resonated with me in several parts. I think this book might be one to savor, to allow the truth settle in every part of me. If I manage my time properly, I'll try to write about my thoughts as I process the book. For now, I'll leave you with two parts I've been mulling over.
-"There's something about feeling two-dimensional that makes sense to me; a certain make-believe element that I still bring to the world. My doll-playing days are over, but I still tend to dwell in "maybes" and "what ifs." I still think my life begins later, in some dreamy far-off someday I imagine but never seem to find. I think God can't use me right now while I'm still waiting, wondering, and becoming."
-"There is something different about the Man by the well. He sees the real truth behind our smile. He knows when our smile is fake. He sees the motive behind our actions. He sees where we've been hurt in the past, and He wants to make us whole again. And He wants all of us- the brave part and the insecure, the bright and the brooding. We get to bring the mess of who are to Him and sort it out there in His presence. Just like the story of the woman at the well in John, he offers us His time."