Ok ladies, recently I’ve been reading a lot – and I do mean A LOT – about skin care (so if you’re reading this, gents, bear with me). I got tired of regularly doing all the things I thought I was supposed to in order to take care of my skin, yet never seeing results. Or worse – everything that was wrong with my skin just got, well, worse. Even new problems started popping up. That was it. I began to surf the web for anything that might be of help. As I searched I stumbled upon a book about skin care that had AMAZING reviews, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I bought the book and within a few days it had arrived. That same night I sat down and started reading. Chapter after chapter, I kept reading. I was learning so much and just couldn’t put the book down – even though it was high time I got some sleep.
The best part in all of this was that I was beginning to understand why I had never – despite my efforts – had clear skin before and how I could achieve it. Someone who had a wide knowledge base on the subject was explaining to me, in a way I could easily understand, all about skin (it’s design, function, how and why to properly care for it, skin types, etc.) and how different ingredients and products either harmed or helped it. I started to get (dare I say) excited about taking care of my skin, instead of it being just another morning and night chore.
Here’s the kicker though – the more I read and began applying the things I was learning, the Lord started to speak to me. He used skin care as an analogy for how I should care for my myself and my relationship with Him. Well, the analogy clicked and made such an impression on me that I wanted to share it with all of you. Here are a few points of the parallels between skin care and soul care:
First, is mentality: are you prevention minded or treatment minded? In skin care you’re usually one of the two. Even cultures as a whole tend to fall into one of the two categories for their general public. Basically this means that you either take care of your skin before you see any signs of problems in order to prevent them from occurring, or you wait until you see issues pop up (i.e. acne, wrinkles, large pores, dark spots, etc.) and frantically run to the store (or online shop) to buy a product that promises to treat and relieve the issue – or that will simply cover it up. Now, I know that even if you live in the prevention mindset unwanted issues can sneak in that you have to treat. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about in general. On the grand scale. The way you generally view and think about things.
It is the same in our walk with the Lord. We either live in such a way with Him that we keep sin from gaining a hold on our lives, or we run scared to Him when sin runs rampant in order to “get right with God.” “Prevention” in our lives looks a lot like spending set-apart time with the Lord, reading and meditating on His Word, conversing with Him, being willing and ready to listen and obey when He speaks, as well as having those in our lives to whom we stay accountable and who will always point us back to Jesus and His Word. “Prevention” is life lived with the Lord on a daily basis, and only comes out of a place of love and reverence for Him. (Psalm 1:1-3; Hebrews 11:5).
“Treatment”, however, looks a lot like a lazy relationship with the Lord. Or none at all. Or keeping ourselves so busy that when the thought of setting apart time for Him – and Him alone – comes up, we push it aside, maybe with a twinge of guilt, thinking that we’ll get to it later. But when “later” has come and gone, Jesus still remains on the back burner. And then, like slathering makeup on a blemish infested face, we listen to a few good worship songs, maybe toss up a prayer in hopes to sway God from being angry with us for neglecting Him, and if there’s time, read the verse of the day on our Bible app. “Treatment” looks a lot like living life our way, then running to Jesus when we get into a mess, hoping He’ll pull us out. We aren’t really interested in the long-haul with Jesus. Not really willing to discipline ourselves on a daily basis and spend the time necessary to stay in a right and loving relationship with Him. In fact, we probably don’t really even care about Him at all. We’re probably in this relationships just for us, not for Him. All we want is the quick fix we hope He will give us if we ask in just the right way. I guess you could call this “selfish salvation” or being lukewarm. So which are you: Prevention or treatment? (Revelation 3:15-16).
2) SKIPPING = DAMAGING
We all have those days that we are completely exhausted by the time we get home and all we want to do is collapse in bed and sleep as long as our internal clock will allow. Even though we have the muck and grime of the day (makeup, oil, sweat, pollution) squirming around on our face, we’d really rather not take the time to take care of it. (Fun fact: every night that you neglect cleansing your face to get the gunk out, it ages you seven days – yuck!) I mean come on, we’re exhausted right?
Well, often times that’s how we are in our lives as well. We have busy lives and crazy circumstances which we all-too-often allow to run us into the ground. We get overwhelmed, frazzled, driven to our wits-end, and just plain exhausted. In the midst of all of that, it’s possible that we – at some point – gave sin a foothold in our day. Or maybe we’re so run down and weak that we relapse into past struggles. Or possibly it’s just the attitudes and atmospheres of people we’ve seen and places we’ve been that tried to cling to us throughout the day. Whatever the case, there’s grime and it’s clogging our pores. When the pores are clogged, the skin can’t breathe and function properly. The parallel in our lives is that our souls feel bogged down and grimy. Each day we have a decision to make: are we going to be cleansed by washing with the Word and spending time with the Father, allowing Him to purge everything in us that isn’t from Him, or are we just going to go to sleep? Unfortunately, the longer we wait to let Him wash us, the more aged and tired our lives become. Also, if you’re wondering why you have no impact when trying to help tired, thirsty souls, it may be because you yourself are tired and thirsty, in need of a cool splash of the Word of God. (Psalm 143:6; Psalm 51:10; Psalm 46:10; Psalm 119:9; James 4:8; Matthew 6:6; 1 Peter 1:22).
3) IDENTIFYING YOUR SKIN TYPE
Oh, the journey of identifying what kind of skin you have! I don’t know about you, but for me it was a pain. I always thought I had super oily skin, so naturally I would be an oily skin type. But then, as I actually started to pay attention to my skin, I realized I had areas that were super dry while other areas were super oily. Ok, so combination skin. Then sometimes my face would be tight and dry – even with oil all over it! Ugh! What in the world is my skin type?! Finally I got it figured out: combination skin, with extra dryness due to dehydration (not a lack of oil) as well as ingredients in the products I was using that were drying to my type of skin. The weather also played its part in affecting my skin. And, according to my dermatologist, I lack a protein that helps with skin elasticity, causing extra dryness and lines in my skin. Ok, good. Got that figured out. I learned that misdiagnosing your skin can cause you to mistreat your skin, leading to more problems than before.
How does this relate to your life, you might ask? Well, we all go through seasons. Some are short, maybe lasting only a few days, while others are long, possibly lasting years upon years. If we neglect identifying what season the Lord has us in, then we’ll have an even more difficult time trying to walk through it, or maybe we’ll completely miss everything that season has to offer. Is your season one of hardship? Then let it pull you further into the arms of the Father, not further away. Is it one of ease and smooth sailing? Then dig into prayer and ask the Father what it’s purpose is. Is it time to train someone else up? A time to prepare you for the next season? A time to learn to rely on Him even in the smooth times? Remember, it can be so effortless to neglect spending time with the Father in the seasons of smooth sailing, but these are the times to strengthen your foundation in Christ so that when the storms roll in you’re not swayed or knocked down. Walking through life with unidentified seasons brings confusion, frustration and unpreparedness. There is a numbing that comes from walking apart from the Lord, so walk with Him on a daily basis and allow Him to show you your season. Even if it doesn’t make sense to you, you never know what the Lord is doing in the big picture. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8; Also, read through the Psalms and see how each of the psalmists went through different seasons of life and encountered the Father in each one).
To be continued… In the next post I’ll discuss a few more parallels about skin care and soul care. Stay tuned!