5 things I hate about me (but hey, I’m beautiful anyway)

Daylights: Chalkboard Tree Print  A beautiful reminder of the real reason for this Christmas season! :)

Merry Christmas guys!

So here we are, in what, the 4th week of the year where it’s the acceptable time to watch Love Actually? What a beautiful time to be alive! I’m quite excited for Christmas this year. I don’t know why, it just feels a bit different this year; a bit more exciting, or something. Maybe because this is my long stint for a good 7/8 weeks at home and I’m really, really enjoying being back. Or maybe it’s because I’ve nearly got all my presents and a week before Christmas to be this organised is pretty good for me. Or maybe, just  maybe, it’s because something I’ve known about the Christmas story has really hit my heart in the last few days and I just want to share it with you guys.

I know, you probably know by now, I LOVE writing about beauty and self-image. So to have a post entitled “5 things I hate about me” is maybe a bit of a shock. I guess firstly, I want you all to remember that I’m definitely not sorted on all this beauty stuff. The struggle is definitely real, and it’s almost a daily thing. The truth is guys, I have an Essex accent and a really loud laugh. I’m taller than most girls I’ve ever met and I don’t have a thigh gap and usually when people take a picture of me I start to look a bit like Alan Carr with curly hair and as much as I love the guy it’s not really what I want. I think hate is probably too strong a word, but I still don’t like these things about myself. It gets in the way and I drop quite a lot. I feel like there’s an image I need to live up to sometimes, a version of Annie that could be a lot, lot better than what it already is and that brings me down. So I in no way have this covered. At all. But, as cliche as it sounds, and if you haven’t got this from the blog yet then I’m probably not writing it well enough yet, but Jesus is definitely the fall back here. Psalm 139 and all that. Heck, the whole He died for me because He loves me bit?! Enough said, really.

So please don’t panic. There’s no unnecessary self-hatred going on over here or anything like that (but hey, if you wanna pay for elocution lessons and for someone like Kate Moss to come and teach me to pose for a camera I won’t say no). On the whole, Annie is definitely alright. More than alright. I realised this all over again (how many times have I said that? Countless. But oh well, eh?) when I was reading a cheeky bit of Matthew the other day. I wanted to write something about Christmas for you all, and I thought what a better place to start than where, well, Christmas itself started, eh?! 🙂

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The Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah

“This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was TamarPerez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was RahabBoaz the father of Obed, whose mother was RuthObed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.” – Matthew 1:1-6

SO. Where is it I’m going with this then? Here, in the family tree of Jesus (it does go on, it doesn’t just end with King David hahaha) we have 3 women – named women, at that! – who, let’s be honest, like me are far from perfect. Tamar, a multi-widow (let’s hope there’s not an actual term for that) seduces her father-in-law by dressing up as a prostitute and Judah unknowingly knocks her up then and there, in the street or something like that. They then live platonically I think as husband and wife, but anyway. On the surface, we have a manipulator and a liar. We have a woman reducing herself to sex, selling herself to fulfill a purpose. Next, we have Rahab. Rahab was not an Israelite lady, she was not born into Israel and was not a part of the nation. Rahab was a prostitute. She willingly sold herself for money, was outcasted and shamed by the community because of who she was – yet she was incredibly brave. She hid two Israelite spies within the city walls – in her own house! – and as a result was blessed massively by God. Rahab married into Israel, and she was loved by a man who knew her past, knew her faults – but he loved her (and I’m not just talking about the guy she married). Finally we have Ruth. See, out of the three, I think it’s fair to say Ruth was the safest… all she did was stand by her recently widowed mother in law and took care of her so she wasn’t alone and then slept by some guy’s feet all night. Err.. In one of my lectures at uni, I was told that within that story, the original Hebrew suggests she was more than likely performing some cheeky sexual acts on old Boaz while he was blissfully unaware and woke up to a bit of a surprise! Like Rahab, Ruth was not an Israelite. Yet, she was welcomed.

Look where they ended up – in the family tree of no other than the Saviour of the world. First of all, I have one comment to make before I elaborate. I’ve chosen the three women in this part of the family tree, namely because, other than Mary – you know, Jesus’ mama – they are actually named. The other women in the genealogy are known as ‘wife of’ whoever. They are IMPORTANT ladies, ladies and gents. I’ve also chosen these women because a huge part of their stories is sex. Time and time again we look at sexual sin and guilt as the sin of all sins and the guilt of all guilts. The part of us that is so innate because a part of such shame and anxiety. Well, here I am, publicly saying that whilst I’m waiting for marriage (so yes, V-plates come at me), my past isn’t perfect. But I regret none of it because I am loved and forgiven and chosen by God – just like these guys. Grace is bigger than all of this rubbish we put ourselves through. Whatever you regret, whatever you hate about yourself – maybe it isn’t your accent but maybe it’s something you got up to once or twice with a guy who wasn’t your boyfriend then and has made you feel crappy about it ever since – it can all be forgiven and made new and redeemed at the Cross of Jesus. I’ve found my hope there, all I’m saying is if you seek it, you’ll find it too.

This is what we celebrate at Christmas. We celebrate that the One who redeems, the One who restores and renews, He came to earth as a small and real human baby to love us sinners; to love us liars, to love us prostitutes, to love us manipulators and cheaters and thieves, to love US. Despite our faults, despite our pasts. He came to love us. Like Ruth, like Tamar, like Rahab, we are and can be a part of a story that changed the world. WOW.

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These are a few snaps of me and some friends outside Canterbury Cathedral. They had a nice big nativity scene we all got a bit excited about (check out my selfie with the Saviour, genuinely making that a hashtag next year I reckon), and it began to hit me then I reckon. I was all excited about seeing Justin Welby as he was leading the service, but in the end realisation struck and I knew that Jesus is the one I’m excited about, not a top lad in a nice dress (♥ you Justin). It’s Jesus that weaves me into this story, this story that, whether you believe it or not for yourself, continues to cause controversy and change communities and shape people. I am beautiful because of this baby boy. I am beautiful because of the man He turned out to be, and the crazy things He said and the even crazier thing He did for me by dying on that cross. Wow.

This is a song covered time and time again. It’s my favourite version cause there’s a fab video to go with it. But anyway. Here’s some of my favourite words:

“Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art;
Dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.”

You know what Jesus, come. Come into my life again. Weave me back into that story, and turn those things I don’t like about myself into something I can love because YOU love it. My prayer and my gift for you this Christmas (in as least a cringey Christian way as poss) is to hear this story again, but not as some crazy story whipped out once a year to get us feeling festive again, but as something new for you – a warm light on those faults that makes them beautiful, or just something to think about over your mulled wine and mince pie.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Peace and blessings x

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