“The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,
a scrubby plant in a parched field.
There was nothing attractive about him,
nothing to cause us to take a second look.” Isaiah 53:2
Nothing attractive about me… that feeling has caused many to take their own life. Ignored… many know that reality. It’s awful.
This blog launch four years ago happened because I was driven to do it. The voice of the Lord was so blatantly clear that day, “photograph My Bride and tell her story”, I had no other choice but to go to work. The drive to find a studio space followed as I worked. What bride feels safe, valued, and honored wearing a wedding gown in an open garage in the middle of January?
I dreamed of a beautiful little white church building with tall pretty windows. I imagined those windows opened in the spring with curtains blowing in the breeze and flower boxes filled to overflowing with pink wave petunias. The big beautiful doors opening to a dark stained wood floor that creaked when we walked on it. The ceiling would be tall, a stained glass window would adorn the back wall splashing the white walls with color when the sun set in the evening. No one would ever reject that scene! Every girl in town would want to share her story in a little church building with such charm! We would reach so many! We would tell so many stories! There would be a rack of wedding gowns hiding behind a beautiful screen right next to a huge mirror and lights a table full of make up and hair supplies and of course a gorgeous white chair with gold accents fit for a Bride! Oh how I prayed for a little white church!
Praying for a little church building was bold but I was feeling quite bold and full of faith in 2013. I knew God would answer me… He did answer me.
I remember laying on my face in my bedroom that morning praying for a church to work in. “God I know you’ve put this idea in my heart. I believe you! I know you are going to bring me to the next step in this process of obedience… and God when you say you’ll do it, I will trust you! Just don’t let me miss it and don’t let me be afraid. If it takes all the faith I have I know you will give me more!”
My kids and I drove out to check on a location for a family session that afternoon and as I topped the hill of an old dead-end road the Lord spoke again, “Here you go! It’s yours. I’m going to give you this place for a studio.”
…. Look familiar? Can you relate? It was an abandoned church. The glass windows were broken and boarded up. The doors had been kicked in and boarded up. The walls were warped and caving in slowly. The roof had holes in it. The porch was falling in. Wasps circled, a snake slithered into a hole in the foundation, and beer and liquor bottles were piled up behind it. Alone, neglected, forgotten, falling apart… unattractive… can you relate? I’ve been there too.
The world defines what is attractive, labels people as such, and often overlooks them. Jesus was overlooked, he knows what that is like and loved his own anyway – there is hope. Rejected people are often forgotten, left to figure it out on their own, in their own strength, with their own resources or lack thereof. Jesus was rejected, he knows what that is like and he loved his disciples back to acceptance – there is hope. Sorrowful people stop showing up and things they once loved start falling apart. Jesus was full of sorrow on the night he was betrayed, he knows what that feels like and he yet he loved us back to joy – there is hope.
Many of you are like this little church. People have turned their backs on you, called you unattractive. People look the other way to avoid seeing the neglect. You know what it’s like to be ignored. You are headed for collapse. This building did collapse. But it’s just a building, girls… it’s just a building! The promise God made me regarding this little church is yet to be fulfilled. And the promise God made to you is coming too. Jesus put on the unattractive, ignored, worthless, sorrowful, abandoned, and betrayed identity YOU are wearing when he carried the cross on your behalf and mine. And because he has taken all that on for you and me, we don’t have to BE those things anymore. Sure there will still be times we all feel these feelings, but like Jesus, we won’t have to carry these crosses forever. Jesus lived out Isaiah 53 so we can live out Ephesians 5:26-27. Isaiah 53 is an unbelievable act of love, love that makes you and me whole, beautiful, dazzling, radiant, and pure. So when you are tempted to wear the “I’m not attractive” dress or the “I’m ignored” dress…. promise me this, you’ll turn your focus back to the Groom!