One thing that always seems to pop up around this time of year are contests for the "cutest couple." I clicked on a link for a local one and started glancing through the entries and I'm not sure how long they have had the webpage open to accept entries but there were over 800 entries as of a week ago so I can't imagine the number of entries the judges have to choose from now. Now I'm not trying to be a downer but as I looked through some of those pictures you see nothing but smiles and laughter, never tears, pain, trials or messiness. I wonder what it would be like if instead of the "cutest couple," the contest was for the messiest couple? Instead of smiles there were pictures of people mad, sad, sick, dying and struggling with life. I would like to assume that if that were the case you wouldnt see 800 + pictures in the running. I have no clue of the contest details and maybe you have to share your story and your struggles along with your picture and your journey as a couple but I know in past contests I have witnessed it was strictly superfical and nothing more than what appeared on the oustide instead of the beauty on the inside because of the battle. Its just in a contest like that its not a very good indicator of who the people beyond the smiles really are. What their character is, their strengths, weaknesses, accomplishments, passions and motivators in life are. I'm not picking cutest couple contests apart at all because we could say the same thing with the "cutest baby" contests we see on Regis and Kelly or in Parents magazine. I think we sent in a picture of Macie for one of them when she was a newborn and the picture was her at her cutest not throwing a temper tantrum at 3 a.m.
The one amazing thing though is that even if we arent winners in a wordly cutest couple, baby, mom, dad, man or woman contest we are winners to Jesus and we do make the final cut in His eyes. Each day He looks at not our smiles but our scars, our messiness, our pain, our tears and our brokeness and thats what makes us winners to Him. We dont have to put on a front and hope that because of that we will be choosen all we have to do is be messy, broken, raw and real us. God doesnt get a snap shot of us when we have it all together He gets the whole picture, the real us. I love that I can wake up each day knonwing regardles of where I have been, where i'm at now or where i'm going I have already won and He has already decided to love me and make me the big winner. We don't win a night out on the town, a free dinner or a shopping spree by being messy but we do win the most amazing love story with a Savior who will change our lives. Not only do we win unconditional love we win eternal life so we can never use it up, like a shopping spree pass or dinner gift card.
I think I have shared this before but my all time favorite book is called "Messy Spirituality" by Mike Yaconelli. The book is a beautiful story of God's neverending love for us regardless of our flaws and messiness. One quote from the book says this "You, with all your faults and imperfections; you, with your defects and failures; you, with your hang-ups and emotional scars; you, with your weaknesses and your defeats; you, with all of your blunders, brokenness, and floundering: you are God's beloved, God's favored, the disciple whose name God calls, the one Jesus prefers to hang with, eat with, play with, talk with, cry with, and laugh with. You are the one whom the holy God of heaven and earth longs to spend time with. You are all of this and more. You always have been. And you always will be." Wow is all I can say, amazing isnt it??? I also love the lyrics to a Francesca Battistelli's song called "Free to Be Me" it says "I got a couple dents in my fender, got a couple rips in my jeans, tryin to put the pieces together but reflection is my enemy and on my own I'm so clumsy but on Your shoulders I can see, I'm free to be me." How beautiful, we dont have to appear to be together because God can take the pieces and arrange them so perfectly that the beauty in which is reflected is far more amazing than any picture or contest shot. I just encourage you that this week regardless of whether you win at a competition in sports, one for beauty, one for smartness or none at all you can rest assured you have already won! It may not be a shopping spree or cash prize but I guarantee its a reward that will never let you down or run out.