My computer told me I should erase my history. I chose the 1980's—solely on the basis of hair. Thankfully, my hairstyle changes on a bi-weekly basis. That way I can't be caught in the same embarrassing style for more than a couple of incriminating pictures in a row.
Every once in a while, I like to do a big-time hair change-up for the travel adventure alone. When I'm speaking somewhere and I'm picked up at an airport by people I've never met, I have to admit it's sort of fun to watch them holding a sign with my name for a few minutes before I confess I'm the one they're looking for. The people generally will look at some publicity photo they have of me, then they'll look at me. Pause. Look at the photo. Back at me. Pause. Then they'll move on to try to find someone who looks more like me than I do.
Yeah, like I would ever have a photo that actually looks like me. It's not just the hair. Authors and speakers are required to have a publicity photo. Pastors' wives are merely expected to look like a million. We're not really allowed to look like we spent a million, mind you. Just look as if we could have. And nowhere is it written that a photo has to be an accurate representation.
I'm telling you, I have a genuine sympathy for photographers. Women want a photo that looks natural. We want it to depict who we really are. And yet we don't want any wrinkles. Or spots. Or multiple chins. Or those glasses. Or that nose. And those cheek bones have to go. And pretty much that entire face altogether. It's a total no-win for the photographer. We don't want a photo that does us justice. We plead for mercy behind the lens!
When it's photo time for me, I've now completely given up the pretense and resorted to a makeup job that essentially involves painting over everything on my face that I don't like. Can I pretend that looks natural? Then I still ask the photographer to do some major touch-up—starting with making it into a uni-chinned photo, thank you.
By the time we're both done, I'm a movie star with a flawless complexion. No one recognizes me, but boy do I take a mighty fine pic.
Doing my makeup these days has become sort of a color-by-number project anyway. There are certain "drawbacks" for all of us who've gone that "erase the face, then redraw it in" route. For instance, I told one of the sweet little ladies at church she might be penciling in her eyebrows a little too high.
She looked surprised.
On a related note, I've run into several women who have not fully embraced where their lips end. Not to be tacky, but it's like they never learned to color inside the lines. Those preschool years? Very important. There are certain face projects that should probably not be left to do-it-yourself-ers anyway. Anytime you need to change the location of an immobile body part, I can't see how that's going to happen without professional help.
Trying to change ourselves on the inside is even more futile. We don't change ourselves in that initial work of salvation. Why would we ever think we could change ourselves in the process of our sanctification? It's time to call in The Professional. Jesus said in John 15:5, You can do nothing without me.
Paul got it. In Philippians 3:3 he said, We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort (NLT).
Society continually sends us the message that we need to have self-confidence. But self-confidence is not only wishy-washy and unreliable, it's ineffective. Want real change? Change self-confidence to God-confidence. It's never misplaced. A person surrendered to Christ and confidently relying on Him will be changed. Period.
The more we know about our God, the more confidence we have in Him. The more we comprehend even the tiniest bit about how powerful He is, the more confident we are that He will change us in every way we need to be changed.
Doing the right thing is just too difficult in our own strength. Ours won't cut it. Making right decisions is no better than a wild guess if we're depending on a fleshly mind. Still, some try it. They rely on their own strength and energy and on their own perceptions and reasonings. And you can easily guess where that leaves them. Powerless and pitiful. Without His strengthening power there is no victory.
But when we receive His strength by yielding to His indwelling Holy Spirit, there is power. Big power. Acts 1:8 says, But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you (Amplified NT). The Greek word for "power" in this verse is the word dunamis from which we get our word "dynamite." That means that we're not talking about small power here. This is radical, life-changing, explosive power!
When we assume we can change ourselves without the Lord—or that we can do anything of true value without Him—we reveal prideful thinking. We don't have the right to claim that we have done anything on our own. God gives us what it takes to do all that we do (2 Corinthians 3:5, CEV).
How blessed it is to instead rest in His power. Are there things in your life you've been trying to accomplish on your own? Or are you making decisions according to the strength and truth of His thinking instead of yours? Could I encourage you to begin each day recognizing your need for His strength, confessing that need to Him, and depending on Him to enable you to live well in His light? When it comes to changes you'd like to see happen in your life, you simply can't lean too hard on Him. Ask Him for His strength, allow Him to work through you, and then just watch as the impossible happens!
And that, my friends, really will raise a few eyebrows!
Rhonda Rhea is a pastor's wife, mom, speaker, and author and is a regular contributor to the Missouri Baptist Pathway. She and her husband serve at First Baptist Church, Troy, Missouri. This column is adapted from Rhonda Rhea, How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take to Change a Person? Bright Ideas for Delightful Transformation (Birmingham: New Hope Publishers, 2011).