February 13, 2014

Beautiful Deception

At times when I am sitting in my chair and working, I look up, glance behind the lacy curtains hanging above our sofa, and I see this:

Against all the cement block, metal, and telephone wires, grows a radiant flowering shrub of vines, cascading out the side of our neighbor’ roof. The bright green vines and shocking purple petals are a stand out in this small concrete jungle. My eyes are instantly drawn to them. They are beautiful.

But a random glance one day made me take a closer look at these flowering vines. For one the beautiful vines, bright green and purple, had grown long, and was reaching for something to hold onto. And what it had caught was another small piece of beauty, a rose bush that had been growing about five feet away.

My beautiful vines had not only gotten a hold of it, but had entangled itself in the rose bush, choking the life out of the roses, which also once grew big and striking, bright yellow and pink. And suddenly, my beautiful vines did not seem so beautiful anymore.

Through this, I am reminded of the lies that I so often let myself get entangled with.

If only you were shorter with a few more curves.  Then you would be beautiful.

If somebody doesn't like you, then nobody likes you.

Why aren't you still teaching? Don’t you realize a whole class of children needs you more than your one daughter? You aren't contributing to the world by staying home.

You are strong enough to handle this on your own. You are in control. Don’t ask for help.

Just get all your work done first. Then you will have time for Scripture.

You did what? You thought what?! You are a horrible mother.

Why do you keep writing? Why do you pretend you have something good to say?

You aren't feeling content today.  You must have made a wrong decision, took a wrong turn somewhere.

If only {this} would happen, then you could be happy.

Deceit is everywhere, sneaking its way through media, telling me I’m not beautiful enough, rich enough, popular enough, funny enough, smart enough, creative enough, busy enough. Telling me that I’m not “enough.”

And at first glance, these lies appear beautiful. These lies I let fill my head and take over my heart appear harmless, glamorous even. They stand out compared to the monotonous parts of my life and make me think I am missing something, that if I had more, had different, had better, then I would be made complete. 

They appear be good things, simple motivational messages, positive pleas to make myself “better,” self-help to make myself “enough” for the world. But there is absolutely no satisfaction in chasing something that won’t end, in pursuing something that will never say “perfect,” or “just right,” or “good.” And in reality, this deception, these beautiful lies, are choking me, strangling me until I am left shriveled, lifeless.

So, I need to recognize when I am being fed lies.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

I need to protect myself against deception.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

I need to realize that these messages are not from my Creator.

{The devil} was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

I need to keep my heart and my mind devoted to Truth.

But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

Because even though a thriving vine may appear shocking and beautiful, exciting, it may require a closer look to see what it’s hiding, to see what it's strangling.

Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.

I need to mature away from these lies, away from deceit that only distracts me from my purpose.

But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

Because my worth, my value, my life, is not measured in what I look like, or what I accomplish. I am worthy to my Creator, simply because I am His beloved creation. I am a rose bush, beautiful, full of thorns and bristly leaves, full of flaws and mistakes, but beautiful nonetheless. Beautiful, if I don’t let myself get entangled.

So I am not going to waste any more of my time, my energy on these lies, on beautiful deception.

Grace and Peace,