beyond every flaw or imperfection.

:: by Meshali Mitchell

“I was 13 when I first took note of my body and began to compare it to other girls.  In the middle school locker room, the other cheerleaders and I stood in front of the mirrors and began to take note of how we all differed from each other.  Standing there in my uniform, I realized my body was different from the other girls.  All of ours were.  They all differed from each other.  Megan made the statement, 'I just want to be skinny and beautiful like the girls on TV.'  My mind began to wander.  So, what was considered beautiful?  What was the gauge of beauty?  What did boys like?  These were the questions that ran through my mind.”

'BEAUTY' …what is it anyway?  In today’s culture, we see it everywhere.  It’s hard to get away from the question.  Image.  Beauty ...what does that really mean?  Who is the judge of it?  Where does my worth really come from?  Supermodels and photoshopped movie stars are at the forefront of our daily view.  At the grocery store standing in line, on billboards as we drive, on commercials when we sit to watch TV, we are bombarded with it.  Fifteen years later, after standing in front of that locker room mirror, as a 28 year old woman, I’m right there with you.  Trust me, I have been confronted with it, too.

Here are a few steps I take in my own life to help keep perspective on what “beauty” is:

1. Guard your thoughts :: Proverbs 4:23 Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that's where life starts.

It’s so easy to get caught up in appearance.  So many become consumed with it.  Don’t let the enemy sit on the throne of your life in this area.  Do not bow your knee to what he and this culture says about you.   A powerful tool Satan uses is to attack our self image through our thoughts shaped and influenced by culture.  I’ve realized throughout my life that in every area our culture seems to naturally push the agenda of negative thoughts on us.  If the enemy can target our minds and win, the trap is set and the pulling grasp gets hold of what he needs to shape and diminish.  He is powerless until we give him room to rule in certain areas.  We CHOOSE who we give the right to rule in our minds.  I encourage you today - think on good things.  Here are few verses to dwell on when you battle these thoughts::

:: Romans 12:2 Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

:: Philippians 4:8  Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious-the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.

:: 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 The world is unprincipled. It's dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn't fight fair. But we don't live or fight our battles that way-never have and never will.  The tools of our trade aren't for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture.  We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ.  Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.

2. Surround yourself with encouraging, life-giving friends :: Proverbs 12:26 One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.

The last thing I want to do when I feel down is surround myself with people that always seem to drain the life out of me.  I encourage you to give place to Godly, life giving friends.  Let these few choice people speak thoughts of Hope and God’s amazing purpose into you!  Allow their love and encouragement to give you support and RIGHT THINKING for your life.  Godly people sharpen each other.  Others have a warped view of self image and their ideas could affect you in a negative way.  Godly friends have made the difference in my life!!

3. Work out!  Strive to live healthy and keep a good balance :: 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

We all probably need a little work in this area.  Along with healthy thought patterns, build healthy habits of working out and eating right.  This is a good, solid habit for healthy living and will help keep us in shape.  Strive to honor your Creator with how you treat your body.

4. GOD SEES YOU AS HIS ::: Beautiful Daughter.

Realize that as God’s people, we live in an upside down kingdom.  Beauty is so much deeper than the skin.  God constantly longs to tell a beautiful story by rewriting some of the things you’ve been through.  He takes the wrong things we’ve been through and makes them right and beautiful.  Our flaws can actually benefit us in God’s kingdom.  When we allow the Lord to re-write our story, He takes the imperfections, the broken things, and makes a masterpiece.  This is the REAL BEAUTY :: the irreplaceable that makes you one of a kind :: we are fearfully and wonderfully made.  The beauty is that God has placed His fingerprint on each of our lives.  There is no greater story than that, no greater or truer beauty.  He loves us and has made us daughters in His Kingdom.

Let's do our best to live basing our view of ourselves solely and completely on what God says about us.  The whole and precise view that He loves us right where we are at and sees beyond every flaw or imperfection.  There is no pressure to 'PERFORM' in His Kingdom.  He is our greatest fan.  Let’s live like it.

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Based in Dallas, Meshali is unapologetically "southern" in her personality and style.  Her work has been described as timeless and sophisticated.  Mostly, her art has a southern charm and honest reflection.  Passionate about capturing the expression of the moment, Meshali approaches her craft with artistry, creativity, vision and professionalism.

Meshali is also passionate about life.  The roles she plays as a Christ-follower, daughter, sister and friend all contribute to her craft.  She is an avid reader, prolific blogger and her own worst critic.  Fortunately all of these come together to create a personal story unique to the photographs she captures.

website //  ::  twitter // @meshali