I Don't Have to Look it...

On the day I took this picture there was a family celebration and I was sick, but Atilary Photography was around and I just had to have a portrait with him. 
I had looked forward to binging on small chops and food this day, but my plans were flat lined, as I couldn’t enjoy anything. 
So maybe it isn’t my best portrait shot. My make up is stale as it was applied early in the morning and this was late at night, plus the way I apply makeup would probably make any makeup artist wince… I’m done in a few minutes if no ones making me up. I have no patience for foundations, contouring, blending or eye shadows, just a dab of powder, black eye liners and lip-gloss and we’re good to go. 

This was a bad case of food poisoning. I had stomach cramps, fever, high temperature and the chills… and it doesn’t even look sick here. The portrait is decent and would have been exceptional if I had freshened up my makeup. No sign of the misery I was experiencing within.
Sometimes we look at certain people, especially Christian folks and see how perfect they look and envy them and get discouraged by their perfection, how they have no problems at all, when it seems like we're tackling one problem or the other.
I am a Christian, the one God loves. I know it more than I know myself that God loves me. Do I go through challenges? Yes! Am I fighting to pull through things? O yes! But I know I’m fighting from the place of victory Christ gave me.

Do I get so broke that I can’t even afford to stop the car for some groundnut sometimes? O yes!
I was telling my sister how I haven’t shopped in a little over a year, because I haven’t been able to travel, thus I haven’t experienced that shoppers high, the joy of new purchases. I have been enjoying outfits made by my tailor instead of brooding about it… but you know what? Its ok!
You see, I don’t beat myself down. I stand tall, I smile and it’s not a fake smile, a front for the world, it’s true.
I don’t sit around whining and crying and complaining, because I know these are just distractions, I know who’s boss over my life and I know who holds the victory… I can’t let these things distract me from life and purpose. Yes it gets me sometimes, but not enough to hold a lamentation party or write copies of my own book of lamentations. If I want to break down, then I would break down in front of my Father, and get right back up to being fabulous.
These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There's far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can't see now will last forever.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (MSG). It always is comforting to read this. When I know that these hard times are small potatoes… they’ve got nothing on the good times I’m sailing through to, the mighty supply. I can’t let myself be dragged to the pity party dance floor.

I’m a girl, and I’m not so bad looking, thus I get attention, male attention… Wealthy men! Do I get tempted sometimes? I mean, I see some of my ‘friends’ living their lives in their luxury cars, luxury apartments, luxury vacations etc As much as I know it’s all worth nothing, the truth is, sometimes, I wonder what the big deal is… I can get whatever I want my way, so why not just get it if it's right in front of me? even when i know I can't and would not, the thought peeks it's ugly head. Those temptations exist, they are real, I’m not so Christian that I don’t experience such things, but I have received the grace to ignore those thoughts as fast as they come in when I find myself in such situations… If you’re facing temptations, it’s okay. It doesn’t mean you’re not so righteous that’s why they’re in your face. No! There’s grace to overcome… God's right there willing to help you, to remind you who and whose you are.
 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. 1 Corinthians 10:13

You see, if you strip me of all that I am, my reputation, money, my looks, everything… I will still be standing tall, because I have all that matters, I’ve got Jesus, I’ve got His love. Thus my picture would express His beauty even in my brokenness.

God is a good God, best believe it. If you’re going through trials, don’t give up. The seemingly super Christians you see out there, your pastors looking good and preaching good… they go through stuff too, but they don’t wear this challenges on their sleeves! They don’t look like what they’ve been through. Sometimes they worry about a sick child, sometimes they get tired, sometimes they face same temptations you do, and sometimes they need all the encouragement they can get… All the storm around them has not distorted the picture of peace within them. That is what gives them the beautiful picture you see of them, oblivious to what they're going through.
Get up and out of your pity party and rejoice in the most tangible truth you’ll ever come across, the one that’s realer than the world you live in, you are loved by God!
We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 2 Corinthians 4:8
This verse tells of a picture that isn’t defined by situations…. not driven to despair despite all they were going through. Knowing the love of God the Father for you is enough reason to rise above your storm and live in hope.

Doubts will come. It doesn’t mean there is something wrong with your faith. This is the natural mind trying to process and grasp the things of the spirit. So, to succeed Gods way, you’ve got to deal with doubts, and let each one go just as easily as it comes.”  Jesse Duplantis

I make mistakes as a beloved child of God. But you know what? I don’t stay down, because you can’t keep a good woman down. “for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again…”  Proverbs 24:16
I rise up again and again by His love into His love. That’s the difference between me and that person who was once “hot” but walked away, not because I have it all together, but because I have refused to give up even when I fall as a child of God, because I know the perfect one loves me perfectly and perfects me daily and does not condemn me. I wouldn’t put on sack clothes of shame on a runway of self-condemnation… I refuse to look like my mistakes, because I know I am the forgiven one.
 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

I plan events and people feel I can do these things because I’ve got a bank account overflowing with spare cash to throw around. Truth is sometimes I take the next step afraid, I start projects with nothing but faith, with not a thousand naira lurking anywhere, but I get them done. How? I don’t know how God always comes through…. But you should see me planning, I am not gloomy, or broken…. I get discouraged in-between planning sometimes, but I stand tall and determined, knowing that the vision in my heart glorifies God, thus it is His will and He wouldn’t let me fail…
Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. And I know that I will not be put to shame. Isaiah 50:7

What am I trying to say? We all go through things, we are humans and sometimes, these challenges try to suppress our zest for life or dampen our appetite for the presence of God because we feel like we’ve failed Him. We don’t have to allow this pull us down. It's not about pretending to be okay when we're not. In the midst of all these, if you want to break down, then do, break down before God, and receive strength to keep living and moving, but don't stay broken. 
We don’t have to look like what we’ve been through… there is a living hope, and that hope is Christ. If we hold on to Him and His promises in His word… we wouldn’t be oppressed by the situations we find ourselves in. The storm may rage around, but we would find ourselves having peace within in the storm, because Christ is in our boat, and the picture the world sees of us in the midst of all the madness around is just beauty and not the storms of the seasons that try to bring us down.
There's a reason we are told to guard our hearts with all diligence.

I sure don’t look like one battling with a high fever and the chills in this portrait… Daily my heart is guarded, thus I choose to see my peace, see my joy, see my hope beyond every situation I find myself in… I don’t look like the one who is going through or has gone through any storms. It is a choice! I know how to slip into depression if  want to.
We don’t have to look like what we’ve been through or what we are going through, it is a choice. Thank God! That in itself is grace and goodness.


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