The other day I was at the zoo with my family, and we visited one of my favourite places…the butterfly house. Now compared to lions or giraffes, butterflies probably seem pretty dull. But I love them because they’re like little pieces of artwork just flying around. Whenever I see them during my day, they always make me smile because they remind me that even ordinary days hold the possibility for extraordinary moments. And on this particular day at the zoo, I saw what just might be my new favourite butterfly. They’re called the owl butterfly because they have giant spots that look like owl eyes that they use to trick predators on the outside of their wings. From the outside, they look pretty plain, and you could easily brush past them on the way to look at the more colourful creatures. But as they float past you, you’ll see that the inside of their wings is a vibrant shade of blue. And I love that something that looks plain when it’s resting can be breathtakingly beautiful when living its life.
As I’ve mentioned time and again, we live in a world dominated by the notion that for something to have value, it must be beautiful. Thankfully, even though the world is constantly changing its definition of beauty, the Lord never has; because He doesn’t judge us based on what we look like. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. We can get so caught up in trying to shape ourselves into worldly versions of beauty that we lose track of the truth that the important stuff isn’t on the outside. We were creatively created by a creative Creator, which means that our lives have always been more than just skin deep.
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'”1 Samuel 16:7
Every time that God chose someone in the Bible, He didn’t care what they looked like. He cared about what their hearts were like. For a considerable part of my life, I put all of my energy into trying to manipulate and coerce my body into something it wasn’t created to be. I spent countless hours at war with myself when I could have put that time and energy into my relationship with God. Worrying about what clothes you wear, if your hair is the right colour, if your make-up is on point, or if your body is the right size and shape won’t make your life any better. When we focus more on our outward appearance than on aligning our hearts and lives with the Lord and His Word, we are depleting our lives of joy and fulfillment. We are meant to live infused with the richness and fullness that comes from God.
Our lives shouldn’t be dictated by what the world says is trendy or beautiful. The only thing that should be informing the way that we live in the Lord. Basing our worth off anyone else or trying to find value in anything else will only result in us feeling even more lost and alone. Just like the butterflies at the zoo and in the wild, we need to realize that being an individual in Christ means that we both blend in and stand out. May we all try to shape our lives to be like the owl butterfly so that even though we may look unremarkable by worldly standards but are breathtaking when doing the work of the Lord. And maybe, just maybe, if we beat our wings hard enough we can send ripples of change through the lives of those around us, pointing them to their worth in Christ.