Monday, August 16, 2010

May the Lord lift up his face..

Good evening God,
can we talk frankly for a moment? I need to be honest about something that's really bothering me..
it's my face, or rather,  the fact that the face I see in the mirror these days isn't a face that I recognise as mine, and that's something that really is beginning to bug me. What's disturbing me is how quickly other people have grown used to this face - as though it is mine, as though this is who I am now...

I've never been particularly interested in my face before now, I've only put make-up on once or twice in my entire life, and as for my hair, well I've been as happy to cut it myself to get it out of my eyes as I have been to pay someone else to do it for me. So I think I can truthfully say, my problem is not based on vanity or or any need to look a million dollars (who wants to look that green and grubby!)
I'm not concerned about looking 'pretty', I just want to look like me, to me, again.

Please don't misunderstand. I am truly grateful for the miracle of life. I do know how amazing it is to still be here after surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. I am well aware of how petty this must sound to some people! I am alive, so what if it means that I don't look like I used to, surely that's a small price to pay isn't it?

and no.

There is something about the image of ourselves that we carry around inside our heads which is intensely personal and definitive: It doesn't just shape how we see ourselves, it affects how we relate to others on a very deep and spiritual level. It took courage to wear a wig when I lost my hair through chemotherapy, but it actually takes more grit and determination to simply face the world each day looking like a stranger to myself. The insecurity it generates is quite astonishing.

The bottom line is that I can't rely on this face to communicate all the love and compassion I have for the people I meet: I don't know how well, if at all, this face is able to reflect the light of your love, the gift of your grace, and the joy of your presence.  I don't know how to lift up this face..

Did you?

I mean, did you, when you took human flesh, know how to look out at the world through a face that was not able to express all that you wanted it too, all that you needed to say, all that you truly felt inside? Did your face as Jesus, feel strange to you, alien to you, less than who you really were? Did you feel you were able to sustain relationships, form new ones, communicate love, grace, hope and joy just as you wanted to?

or was this why graven images are forbidden, is that why they can seem so empty, so undesirable?

I am grateful for the fact that deep inside, I know who I am.
That for most of each day, I am able to forget that I do not look like me to me, and so am able to simply be me..
I am grateful too for that amazing prayer, and for the promise it offers to people like myself who may, or may not, recover the outward image of themselves in this lifetime and so have to trust that they reflect your face instead:

The LORD bless you
and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’

Thanks for the rant


  1. You know when you read something, then two other things jump out at you? And it seemed so obvious you can't believe you didn't see it all along? Well this morning I read this, and I sympathised and empathised (a bit... I have no idea what your life is like of course!)

    And then a daily bible reading popped into my inbox. A daily bible reading that pops in every day, and I rarely both to read. Today I read it. It was 1 Samuel 16. In fact the email title was "Seeing the heart - 1 Samuel 16:1-13." It seemed to be reinforcing what you are saying - as mere humans we look at the outside ... knowing God looks at our hearts is a challenge to us, but one we fail too often.

    Then, and this is where my life gets mundane, I was folding the washing. And I folded that t-shirt you love. It's a bit battered and worn now, but you can still just about read... "does my faith look big in this".

    I've tried to find you one online this evening, but they don't seem to sell them at the moment. I'll keep looking. It would suit you.

    So what's so obvious? To me, it seems obvious that God uses us wherever he puts us, in whatever 'state' we are - whether we look or feel fat, ugly, bald, beautiful, lanky,or just plain freakish. He knows what's in our heart and it's this that he uses. The challenge is for the individual and the 'audience' - we need to accept that people don't always come in the external packages we expect or want. We need to try to look past outward appearances. And we need to see that yes, no matter what, your faith does look big in it. :o)

  2. Thanks Claire..
    A timely reminder of what matters most. Bless you.

  3. Claire "In Yer Faith" still do them