We recently spent some time in Kentucky, visiting my extended family. While we were there we went through some things that had belonged to my grandma, including boxes of old family pictures. In the boxes, we found school pictures of all the grandkids from kindergarten through graduation. We had a good laugh at some of the hairstyles and fashions in those photos. My girls’ favorite pictures were those of the era when I had my hair permed and braces on my teeth. They thought mom looked pretty funny.
Looking at those pictures, I realized there were some years that I looked pretty awkward. Those years between being a cute, little kid and a grown-up young lady had some pretty bad moments. Those tween/early teen years are often not kind as your body changes and you begin to look like the adult you will become.
Looking at those photos now, with the perspective of 25 years in between, I can laugh and see the woman I was becoming. But I remember living those years and feeling awful about being caught in between. I felt as awkward as I looked.
Even now, I go through stages in my life where my life is an awkward mess. Stages where stress is the only constant and it seems like I’ll never get to where I want to be, never become the person I think I should be.
Yet, it is in the middle of the messy, awkward stages that God works the most. Isaiah 64:8 says “Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Sculpting something out of clay is a messy process. Your hands get covered with mushy, sticky clay. If you’re throwing a pot on a pottery wheel, clay will sometimes go flying. If you’ve ever been in a potter’s workshop, you know that the floor and often the walls end up with clay on them. No potter wears nice clothes when they’re creating something.
Yet, the Bible also tells us that God makes all things beautiful in His time (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Through the messy process of becoming who He designed us to be, God is working to make us beautiful to Him.
It’s often hard for kids to see that God is making them beautiful. The world’s standard for beauty is skewed toward an impossible-to-meet standard of perfection. Hollywood stars and starlets present artificial, made-up bodies as the standard for beauty, and our kids get discouraged because they can’t meet that fake standard.
Help your kids understand the process of becoming beautiful by letting them throw a pot or make a sculpture out of clay. Give them a lump of clay and let them make as big of a mess as possible. Let them take as long as they want. Let the clay dry and have them paint it.
When they are done, talk about how the process of making something beautiful was messy. Yet, the end product is beautiful. Explain that sometimes, we’re like that clay. We’re messy and not all that attractive, yet God is molding us into something beautiful. He’s making us into someone who is beautiful both inside and out, someone who is seeking to follow Him.
Memorize Isaiah 64:8 this week and remember that while the world may tell us that beauty is some unattainable standard, God tells us we are beautiful because He made us. The process of becoming who God made us to be is often messy. But to God, we are always beautiful – just because we belong to Him.