They are long, delicate strokes of a paintbrush on my cheek, and they distract me from what I have to do when she’s done.
We chat about life and make-up and hair products and the fun parts, but eventually the truth spills out in a choked whisper.
“I hate this.” I say to her as the bulbs flash and the music plays a few minutes later. The photographer is a friend, and he knows I’ve dreaded this the same way I did the last one.
But the make-up artist doesn’t know me, and I think she’s surprised.
In most of the photos, I am serious-faced. In a few I’m pretending to laugh, and in others I’m staring off to the side, likely dreaming the studio will transform itself into a library. At one point he sets me up in front of a circle of bright lights, and I try to look straight ahead but I’m wincing inside. He takes a few and suggests something else, asking me if it felt too vulnerable.
I like him because he has that kind of intuition, but I shake my head no. No, it’s not too vulnerable, I say. But it is. All of it.
She watches me while the wind pushes hair off my face and even though we’re virtually strangers, I know she understands. Gentle hands on a brush, deep words on her tongue. I sense that she’s more interested in knowing people than she is in giving them the appearance of perfect cheekbones. I decide she’s a little bit of a refuge in the storm of insecurity for me, and I’m grateful.
It will wash off later tonight while warm, soapy water fills the sink again. And I will look into the face that my children know as mommy. I’ll breathe it all in and try to let it go. But the lens doesn’t ever go away completely, not for any of us.
Am I making something that matters?
So much of life is seen through the camera; it’s pigment and perfume and the fleeting sense that maybe none of it will amount to more than a shadow of who we really were.
The hours I’ve spent in books and studios, in hotels and interviews – all of it can feel more like a stage than a legacy. And it makes me question my time, my priorities, and what I’m leaving behind on the filmstrips.
When we finish, she starts to pack up her things and says sweetly, “I don’t really care about makeup.”
She smiles, and I understand the weight of her words.
She loves the people, the purpose, and the heart behind it. She’s gifted at the art, no question. But that’s not really the ultimate draw for her.
She doesn’t put stock in the bottles and pins, but she didn’t miss the opportunity to use them as a means to a beautiful end, and her ministry resides where her obedience settled.
I don’t want to waste my time, but even more importantly, I don’t want to call something a waste of time when it’s really an instrument entrusted to me. The temptation is ever-present, isn’t it? And the enemy thrives where that questioning begins, leading us down roads of insecurity and striving.
I hear the clicking of the camera, the typing of the keys, the sound of the dishwasher, the car doors opening and closing, and the way she breathes when she’s ready to sleep.
All of it will be swept away one day, distanced by years and memory, washed away like soapy water.
And it looks meaningless when you’re knee-deep in the search for meaning, which is exactly why we sometimes miss the forest for the trees. We’re so caught up in our own ideas of importance that we look past the brush He has lovingly placed in our hands.
Hours bleed one into another, tasks pile high while I wonder if I’ll ever be what I was meant to me. But there is a vulnerability that comes when we stare deep into the camera, stand still when we want to run, and trust that one day it will look the way it should.
I wonder if there’s an area in your life where you’re tempted to believe that your role is periphery to the important matters, or where you feel like you’re treading water. I believe that even in those tender places, He has equipped you to use the temporary to make a mark on eternity.
Ask for His wisdom and courage, and trust the tools He has given you. If you are willing, I would love to know what areas of your life you resisted or doubted, and what came of your obedience. Let’s encourage our sisters to look for His will instead of our agenda, and to walk in full confidence of what He will do with it in return.
Love and prayers to you today,
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
God had a surefire way of getting me onto His agenda. Nine months ago, I had MAJOR knee surgery which literally left me unable to walk on my leg at all for a month and then came the slow recovery. I had to leave my job as a preschool teacher and I was faced with my doubts about what am I really supposed to be doing? God whispered…”write”. At first I resisted mainly due to the attack of the enemy with doubt and insecurity, but I followed God’s leading anyway – pushing through those doubts. He has blessed my obedience and I completely lose myself when I’m writing because I am writing about Him and his faithfulness to me. I believe that I was always meant to write, God just had to orchestrate something major to get me to be the vessel that He wanted me to be. Thank you for a beautiful post!
Amanda Goodwin says
Oh Angid, speechless again. Will come up with a reply once I take it all in. You are such a beautiful soul. Thank you for letting God paint your story and your words.
Amanda Goodwin says
*Angie (iPhone autocorrect, lol)
Cheryl Ricker says
I always love your words, Angie. Yes, seeking His will is everything, and HE IS completely trustworthy. I get so boggled down with my agenda, but He just wants me. And when I fill my day with Him, He fills it with everything I need and more. Have a good one!
Angie, I work for my father in a small family owned business..this is NOT at all what i thought i would be doing….of course i really had no idea what i wanted to do other than get married(check) have a couple of kids(check..3 lovely girls) and THAT WAS IT…well my sister passed away unexpectedly and i came home because…i am not really sure why but i DID and then i decided to finish college at home…get married and BOOM i am working for my dad while going to school and learning to be a wife and shortly 2 years after marriage a MOM all at once…I was happy..AM happy mostly…i DO have a great life…but i DO feel unfilled…i have never cared for my job…it just pays bills and makes life good for me and hubby and kids..and because its my dad i feel STUCK….I PRAY TO God, if this is where he wants me…sometimes i think it is..other times i am soooooo scared to leave because while i hate my job i DO know it and its comfortable…normal…i know what to expect…i dont know…I just dont know what God is wanting from me to do..
Serving overseas says
on a plane, as if He were sitting next to me, He told me that I was going to go back to school to become a nurse practitioner and my husband and I would serve the people of Southeast Asia. WOAH! I didn’t want to go back to school-EVER AGAIN! And I sure did not want to leave my new grandson, our home, our friends, our church. But, we were obedient and he blessed us abundantly. We are back in the U.S. so that I can finish my masters, I will-God willing-graduate in May. I look forward to the next journey he sends us on. I am so thankful that we believed and were obedient, although most days school is more than I want to do.
“We’re so caught up in our own ideas of importance that we look past the brush He has lovingly placed in our hands.” Angie, these words made me misty-eyed — and hit me deep. I’m in a season of transition now, and not at all where I imagined or hoped I’d be several months ago. But I feel completely in the center of His will, and have begun to see the beauty that can be made with the brush He has placed in my hands. Bless you, and thank you.
Chris malkemes says
This note is to Kelly. I hear your heart and understand. Some people seek to speak to the crowd or do something great and wonderful. No one ever talks about the value of one to one miracles of relationship. No one ever talks about Billy Graham’s mentor, the Teacher, or two little old ladies who prayed for D.L. Moody. We are here,according to His word, for a purpose in the present right here right now. We are not a work “in progress, but a masterpiece for this moment. The nearness of your dad grieving for the loss of his daughter while touching the one here with him everyday is priceless. The brush of love across the face of your daughters and cuddle time with your hubby are pearls of great price. Here are star moments of great value to the kingdom of God.
God has recently led me into a season of rest. This is counter-intuitive to the way I generally run. I most often will put my hands into everything asked of me and only when I’m arm-pit deep will I realize it’s too much. Now He has me pulling out of those many waters and setting me on an island to rest and rejuvenate. For me, a woman who is a do-er and busy taking care of other people 24/7 this was a difficult decision to make.
As you mentioned, he is showing me what He has put in my hands and diminishing my focus ideas of reputation and importance. I don’t know what all the beautiful results will be from this season but I’m anticipating a lot of healing and restoration.
Thank you for sharing. 🙂
this is all beautiful conversation….stirred by beauty in your words, Angie. Thank you.
it’s all new christian woman’s world out there with blogs, conferences, self published books, make-up, vlogs, tweeting, pinning, and enough to suffocate it all into a drowning mess that has forgotten the bleeding hands that make it all possible, that give it all purpose, and knit it together for good.
the enemy does make much of this. and distact us. he distacts the famous by blowing up the temporal and shames them; he distracts us who simply watch it all from a far off distant screen by claiming we’re not good enough, significant enough, or driven enough to do what they’re all doing.
Jesus found me lost in college. i thought one day i would be greatly significant for Him…doing the bold, the great, the big steps of faith that seem to get an extra gold star. I’m a homeschool mom to 4 boys, wife to US Naval Aviator, and at times….feel that shame that I want more, need more, long for more of Jesus.
We think it’s not as glamorous as we hoped; and we believe you have been given eternal purpose because of the glamour. Both a lie.
I’m processing with the Lord, digging deep to invest in eternity even if no one ever sees it, and confessing my hope in worldly pleasure that I want to mask with eternal purpose.
As I am grappling with curriculum changes in the last few weeks before school starts, I really needed this, to focus in on what is important.
Sarah Schulz says
This is a beautiful reminder. I am a writer, an artist, and it took me 30 years to grasp that working with the gifts God has given me is just as important as serving in the church, caring for people in ministry, or opening my home to strangers.
It was only when I began to place my worth in God’s hands that I became able to really create, really tell stories, really dare to be vulnerable in my work. I am still only at the beginning–and recognizing God’s gifts in me, trusting them, will probably be a life-long journey. I look forward to it!
Kristen Strong says
Adore this, Angie. You are a gift to *all* in your circle of influence. xo
Nancy Ruegg says
This statement, Angie, echoes ideas I’ve vocalized myself: I don’t want to waste my time, but even more importantly, I don’t want to call something a waste of time when it’s really an instrument entrusted to me.” And this statement expresses my heart: Ask for His wisdom and courage, and trust the tools He has given you.” Oh, yes, I want to live wisely and with courage, faithfully using the tools He has given me! Thank you for ministering encouragement and affirmation to my spirit. Angie!
Kathy @ In Quiet Places says
When I doubt myself, my plans, my efforts, my agenda – it is comforting to me to know that the best thing I can do is lay it in His hands and fully “trust His will” as you said – He knows what is best for me and that is what I ultimately seek – His will.
Kirsten Kelly says
I never would have guessed that the lights and camera made you feel they way they do. You *chose* to move forward, you *chose* to be positive. I think that is a valuable side note to this beautifully written article. No matter where we are, we can be used if our heart is open and willing. <3
Thank you! This is a beautiful encouragement to me. I am secretly writing something that I feel called to share. It is the one thing that is keeping me going in the monotony and seemingly meaninglessness of my days at the moment.
This is such beautifully written encouragement! There are many times that I feel like I’m wasting my time. I start, then stop. Believing the enemy’s lies that I can’t do it, or I’m not good enough. I often read bogs, but am too embarrassed to respond. I felt called to comment today, but I’m not sure what to say other than thank you. You touched my soul and I am going to stop believing the lies and using the brush that is in my hand.
I have spent the past 26 years raising 5 children, supporting my husband, leading womens bible study……feeling blessed to be able to be a stay home mom. What I thought was a once in a lifetime move to another state with my husband’s job ended in back to back job losses for him. My husband has been unable to find work and I am now working fulltime in a demanding job. I still have 3 children at home and feel so guilty about the long hours I work. God seems so silent. I used to feel so sure I was following God’s purpose for my life…now I just feel like my life is out of control. Thank each of you for letting me share my heart. I often feel like I have failed to fullfill my role as a godly mother and wife.
Angie, you may have no idea how refreshing it is to know that we all – regardless of our worldly successes and achievements – still battle with this question of whether we’re living up to His plans. Thank you for this beauty and honesty. It reminds me that the women I look up to, the women who inspire me, are real women just like me who doubt and stress and worry and pray and get anxious. Blessings to you today!
vicki bell says
that was v helpful to read angie and the book/blog you write in honour of your daughter is a beautiful thing,i write too,may god continue to bless through you and bless you as you bless others and may he grow your writing,not always easy to rely on him,i still have a very long dream of meeting a husband to share my life with,i trust him completely and know god is all i need but i still dream of meeting a helpmeet,bless you,vickix
Cathy Robertson says
Thank you for your obedience and being transparent. Even in my desire to be both of these things, I find a quiet private space to contemplate these thoughts. You writing touched me deeply and made me feel valued in my journey with building a business around skin care and the hard work it is to stay the course and inspire others to do the same. God bless you. This business really does change skin and lives.
Julie Sunne says
“I don’t want to waste my time, but even more importantly, I don’t want to call something a waste of time when it’s really an instrument entrusted to me.” Yes, yes, Angie! Exactly what I worry about. Thank you for this. Blessings.
What a wonderful post–such healing words!
I used to believe that every opportunity that came my way was God’s will for me to accept…and then I was told that God reaaly didn’t have a use for me…over and over. So, I have been fearfully cautious about accepting those brushed offered to me…believing that I’m only capable of ugly brush strokes…and occasionally, I attempt more involvement…and it takes time to get over the disappointment.
So, when an opportunity came my way last week, I just couldn’t say yes…and I prayed…and God was silent…until I read this.
Maybe there are places wehre God uses us to simply come along-side others, without any claim of talent, competency or beauty…just an openness that leaks love.
Thank you for this post!
Beth Williams says
Thank you muchalone. Your words were comfort to me today. Perhaps in my current job I am to simply come along-side my co-workers and shower them with love.
Thanks for your kind words! Enjoy your co-workers!
Beth Williams says
My job is an area of life where I feel my role is periphery to the important matters, or where I feel like I’m treading water. My duties have changed drastically and have nothing to do with the training I received. My new director doesn’t care for me much. I love this phrase… “I believe that even in those tender places, He has equipped you to use the temporary to make a mark on eternity.”
Thank you for sharing that. It makes me really think about my co-workers and others I see at work and think about how I can impact them for eternity. Perhaps all that is needed is prayer for them and their families.
Thanks for a great post!@
Becky Jo says
I am thankful for incourage and the opportunity to read “real” testimonies of women. I continue to read them every day, even though I am so lost and confused about where my life is and what purpose God has for me. The purpose I have ever been completely sure of God leading me was being a wife and mother to 2 sons. 27 years later, divorced after 22 years of marriage, and empty nest, I am off-balance and unsure if I’d recognize purpose or not. It is an awful place and I cry out to the Lord and continue to listen and persevere, believing He will reveal purpose in my life once again. This life is so completely foreign to what I was once so sure of. It is dangerous to be so desperate to know my calling and purpose in this season. It is difficult to read these type of daily devotionals, testimonials, and have them always end with such certainty of God’s will & direction. I rejoice with those who share, while my heart aches for such a story of purpose and knowing again in my life. Does anyone else relate and struggle like this? Can we be this honest without being rejected by those who are so sure of their purpose in Him? Those who question if I am “really” seeking Him and his purpose for me. Where do I belong in these blogs & devotionals. Where is the “in”couragement for us who don’t have the lovely revelation of God’s will & purpose at the end of our story yet? Any suggestions of sites that minister to those who may be in this same place, would be welcome. I will continue to stay plugged in to these other sites too, because God does speak through you.
Struggling to find my place where the process results in a beautiful, worthy to be published, testimony vs. the reality of the current place of persevering & believing, waiting on God to reveal what He is working out in me for His glory.
Hello Becky Jo,
I was drawn to your post. I remember about 5 years ago now when I sincerely began seeking the Lord for my purpose. I was desperate to know what my life was for and what I was suppose to do with it. I was at church one Wednesday evening and the Pastor got up and said that we all have gifts God has given…regardless of what those gifts are, we are going to be accountable for how we steward what we are given. For some it is helping others, for others it is showing kindess or mercy, some have a way with words, while others may have skill with woodworking or music. Whatever it is, your gift is not for you. It was given to you to minister to someone else. As he said this, he finished by suggesting that we just do something, rather than nothing. And while seeking prayerfully, we can try to help in various areas of our church, or community. As an act of faith, simply stepping out to be a help…in time God will reveal where you are to be planted…in the meantime step out in faith while your waiting for the exact answer. I took that message to heart and I began doing what I never wanted to do-work in children’s ministry because they needed help. I also served as a greeter. I was faithful to serve the best I could…several years passed and I was still waiting…then one night I had a dream I was standing and a bright light flooded around me. The Lord spoke to me and said, “teach the children…” Believe me that was the last thing I ever thought I would ever be doing! I said that to say that God knows your deepest desire and your purpose in Christ is to serve Him being His hands and feet to the world around you and as you serve Him, He will show you exactly where you are to camp out and how to minister the gifts He has placed within you to help and equip others. I am lifting you up in prayer. Your life is important, your beautiful life Is important to someone who is waiting for what you have to offer them….a kind smile, a friendly encouragement, whatever it is…it is for someone else! I believe God is going to bless you and keep you as you step out in faith, fully trusting in HIM. May God reveal Himself to you more and more as you trust in HIM!
Blessings & Love in Christ Jesus,
My heart is beginning to realize the daily walk I take is shared: I felt I was equating
not finding a job, or losing my home, or whatever circumstances was totally my world and that I had wasted time since that all happened even though 24/7 i searched for answers and that was 2 years ago. Time for renewal is not a waste; it’s beginning again in new steps
away from what was to what is, 24/7 leaning in to Jesus finding a new easel
to begun. I remember words He spoke to
me years ago: “if I can paint the moon up there every night and the sun every morning, I can do what you ask of me,
That simple. I obeyed. He did. So here I am again several years later, believing He will once again hand me a new brush and I’ll be just fine. I’m seeing it’s a process of
trust and pray, and hold on to that easel
It changes as the years go by, He never does. A firm foundation. This week I’m sketching a new me, a job, a new apartment and I may even change my work life from office, to writing again.
It’s a place I’m comfortable, it’s cresting
Thoughts where other have been, and then we know we are not much different
Just loved for who we are, ladies of worth
In God’s eyes can’t beat that!
I can relate, Becky Jo. I am about to start a new chapter in my life and I feel surrounded by people who either have their lives completely together and they know the plans they have from God, or people who do not follow Christ at all. I know comparison is a theif of joy, but when I am trying to find myself, it is tough not to look at others and strive for what they have.
I am certain, however, that I am in a position where God is wanting me to act in my surrounding. So many people do not follow Christ and I have the opportunity to see them them school everyday. It is a new opportunity to share Jesus. I know I am called to share and that is what I plan to do this coming year.
I am also sort of in a situation where I am struggling because my family is not supportive of my walk. I know that I need to push through and stay strong and keep going, but as a teenager, my parents still have a lot of influence on my life. I am slowly but surely coming out my shell and working on being a reflection of jesus in every aspect of my life.
I guess I am just writing because I see how wonderfully relevant god is in each of your lives and I am praying and talking to god so much to get my relationship to a point like that…
What should I do?