Jesus Christ

Polished Perfect

“Whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones…”  -Matthew 23:27

As silly as it sounds, every time I paint my nails I’m reminded of the horrific events that took place in the spring of 2012.  One of my best friends left her apartment, checked into a hotel and consumed an entire bottle of 500mg Extra-Strength Excedrin, another of Tylenol and a 2-liter energy drink.  When we found her, she was hardly responsive and her skin had green undertones.  As tears were falling from her face faster than her sleeves could catch them, my other friend, Cara, called an ambulance.

I couldn’t even function.  I just sat there in silence at the foot of the bed, blankly starring at my gorgeous friend’s near lifeless body.  As I picked up her hand, I noticed her fingernail polish was chipped.  Not knowing what else to do, I grabbed a bottle of polish and tried my best to paint her nails.  Looking back on this, we all laugh at how stupid I was to paint her nails in such a time of absolute crisis.  I still kick myself for doing something that was so entirely irrelevant to the situation.

You will be relieved to know and I am thrilled to report that after three days in the ICU, my friend survived and was released without any stomach or liver damage.  God is sovereign.  She is an incredible woman and has a jaw-dropping testimony nothing short of an amazing miracle.

As I was thinking back on all this the other day, I realized that I’ve been painting my nails in the midst of crisis for as long as I can remember.  My coping mechanisms have always been to hold everything together.  Be perfect.  Or at least act and appear to be put together.  Maybe, if I looked whole on the outside, something would transform on the inside to match.  The more I struggled internally, the more I tightened the mask strings.  But inside, beneath the image was always a little girl—and she was completely falling apart.

Image: An imitation of a person or thing; a representation, likeness, impression or conception of oneself; an illusion.

I learned at a young age that the world doesn’t care about how the girl in the pictures really feels.  I quickly learned to have a positive outlook, stuff my emotions, and fight for a flawless reflection.  But this was never a lasting identity, it was only an image.  The more pain, loneliness, rejection and insecurity I felt; the more I strived to paint an inaccurate picture of a girl who had it all together.

Beneath the facade I had no idea who I was or where my value was found.  I fought my hardest to maintain an image that had absolutely no relationship with reality.  But the outside couldn’t fix what was happening inside.

We live in a world that applauds, endorses, and super glues on the masks.  Our world worships images.  We’ve learned by example to push the limits and see how far we will go to maintain the image we want others to see.  We want people to view us superficially so they won’t look past the masks, or God forbid, stick around long enough to see how we really are.

“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  -1 Samuel 16:7

Thankfully, God doesn’t buy into “fake”.  He isn’t fooled by facades, intimidated by masks, or takes us at our word when we say that we’re “doing great!”  He sees past the act and speaks to our hearts.  He sees us falling apart and breathes life into us.  Like the woman with the alabaster jar, sitting at Jesus’ feet in the midst of her filth, mess, insecurity and pain.  This kind of vulnerability pulls on His heart strings.  He faithfully seeks us out to break off the things that hold us back, threatening to hold us captive.

“All of us then, reflect the glory of the Lord with uncovered faces.” –2 Corinthians 3:18

This kind of matchless beauty is so raw and undone it scares those who are still in chains.  This reckless transparency with messy hair, mascara running, bent knees and a heart of flesh cannot be fabricated.  It’s as real as they come.  This absolute humility is so authentic it makes others uncomfortable.  But it’s the imperfect that the Lord chooses to use.  Our weakness allows Him to be our perfect strength.

He sees us. Fighting to be faithful, wrestling through motherhood, trying to parent perfectly, in yesterday’s topknot, with dried spit-up down our shirts. He begs us to leave the dishes and climb over the dirty piles of laundry. He beckons us to come away with Him. To sit at his feet. To rest in Him. To just be His daughter.

When your need for approval is fulfilled by what you do, how you parent, or imperfect people, you will always be left desiring more.  I encourage you; Run to the One whose perfection isn’t painted on with brushes, designed by the fashion elite, studied in Ivy League classes, or worn as couture. He is simply perfect so we won’t have to be.  He is the answer to our imperfection.  The sooner we take off our masks and come face to face with who we’ve become, the sooner He can intervene and make us who we were born to be.  It’s still a daily struggle to be real,  but I’m learning how to walk in freedom of who He has created me to be.

His absolute security beckons me to be renewed.  He loves me just as I am.  Broken, hurting, confused, crumbling; real.  And He desires to make me whole and lacking nothing.

So, which is more important to you—your outward persona or your inward well being?  Don’t paint your nails while dying—it’s senseless.

“He said to me… ‘My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.” –2 Corinthians 12:9-10

2015: All Things Lovely

Rachelaz.com

Twenty-fourteen was a wonderful, but it’s a new year and I love it already.  We’re new parents, we own our own little business, and I’m transitioning into becoming a stay-at-home momma. So I’ve decided to broaden my scopes, challenge myself, draw up a few plans, and set some new goals.

I’m going to give this “lifestyle blog” thing a shot. 

So, I hope you enjoy my journey as I transform this space– where I’ll be posting the random tidbits of my life. Such as what God’s doing in our hearts; my foodie finds, the cooking fails; what I’m learning; the fashion my little family is wearing; what I’m reading; and stuff our small company is building.

Thanks for taggin’ along for the ride!

xoxo,

    -RACHEL

What Marriage Isn’t

John & Rachel Cavanaugh

“But I have this one thing against you. You do not love Me as you did at first…” Rev. 2:4

Husband brag:  My man is good at a great number of things–  He crushes just about any sport, can cook better than Martha Stewart (so I mayyy be bias), has the patience of a saint, communicates better than most women I know, and lives to serve. But despite his incredible character, many accolades, love for God, and huge heart– my man is absolutely terrible at this one thing.

So now that you know how awesome he is and how much I love him– I’ll take an unconventional route and let you in on what he’s not so hot at. This one thing– well, it kills me (quite literally). I’m certain he’ll never get any better at it. And the worst part is– he consistently fails in it every day and will continue to for the rest of his life.

So here’s the thing: as absolutely wonderful as he is– my husband makes a terrible god.

“Your spouse makes a crappy idol.” Maybe you’ve heard other married folks say this kind of stuff. Maybe you’re like single Rachel and quite frankly just can’t imagine someone who you’d actually have to keep from idolizing– because you know, you’re just too confident and cool to actually like anyone that much. Maybe you’re like I often am, and don’t even realize that you’re operating as if your spouse is your God. So single or married, let me tell ya, IT HAPPENS, so hear me out:

My sweet hubster wasn’t created to supply all of my needs. As well as Johnny loves and knows me, he cannot give me the strength, peace, joy, love, or comfort that I so desperately need. John Erik Cavanaugh is not all sufficient in himself– so how could he possibly sustain me? He cannot. He isn’t and wasn’t ever created to be my idol. And likewise, I shouldn’t be his either. The more I try to create space for him to fit in that role, the more he fails me– and the more angry, disappointed, and bitter I become.

As a result of idolizing my spouse, I’ve directed all my attention towards having the perfect marriage, and being a exemplary wife. Making certain we’re communicating well, being a light to others, and finishing each season strong. I’ve been striving and trying so hard under all this pressure and in my own strength, that I’ve forgotten my primary role as a spouse. I’ve missed that the whole point is to help and encourage Johnny to grow in Christ, to lean on Him for his strength, love and security.  Not to control him. Not to manipulate him into being a better Christian. Not to make sure we “look good” at all times. Not to make sure we read our Bibles every morning, and pray together every night. I don’t have to work and strive, strive and work.

So many things spin out of control when I take my eyes off of Christ. If He isn’t our foundation, we will crumble. He alone holds everything together. But before Jesus Christ can be our center, He must be the sole sustainer of my life– and He can’t fill that role if I’ve replaced Him. I’ve learned the hard way that you cannot depend on your spouse to make God the center of your life for you. I must fight the lies that Christ in my life isn’t important– on the contrary, it’s EVERYTHING.  We’re two human shells, created to be dependent on Christ, learning to grow in love for one another with a non-earthly affection. Marriage isn’t about idolizing your spouse. We weren’t born to be gods.

Whether it’s our spouse, occupation, children, earthly possessions or gifts– on this side of eternity nothing will satisfy. No marriage, relationship, status, or thing can fill the void. Christ alone satisfies. Only in Him our deepest desires are met; our fears are fought; our fickle love is surpassed; our victories are determined; our voids are filled; and our joy is made complete. So go to Him and let Him love on you. His heart is already turned towards you.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Deut. 6:5