Thoughts By Natalie

true beauty: rebecca marie patterson

This month’s true beauty post is especially wonderful because our featured beauty is also a birthday girl today!! Rebecca Marie and I have been friends since our freshman year in college, and our friendship has continued to blossom since then. We’ve studied abroad in Heidelberg, taken countless trips together, and even lived together. Rebecca is a keeper–a friend who I know will always be part of my life, and someone who is always up for grabbing a cup of coffee and chatting. Happy birthday, beautiful girl!!

What is your greatest passion in life? How do you live it out?

My greatest passion is relationships. The way people interact with each other. To me the greatest beauty in life is discovering the unique differences and universal similarities in human beings. I strive to really get to know every person I come into contact with, whether that looks like scheduling regular coffee dates with a new friend or truly listening when I ask a customer how they’re doing that day.

We can learn so much from each other, but rarely do we have the time to seek out and strengthen genuine relationships. I get inspired when I consciously give my whole attention to the people around me with the intention of knowing and helping their lives. There is always something to give one another. Even if it’s only a friendly familiar face, it can make this journey a whole lot easier.

What woman inspires you?

My mother. The older I get the more I learn about my mother. Specifically the more I learn about who she is when she’s not “mom”. She is a servant at heart, as a wife, a daughter, a sister, a neighbor and a friend. She is the face of Jesus, the extension of His hands, loving everyone she can reach. The part about it that really gets me is I would never know exactly what kind of woman she is without the testimonies of others. The raving reviews of her food prepared for an ailing friend, the countless hours she’s gone decorating the sanctuary after she works the day away, the money she’s raising for breast cancer in the name of loved ones, the continual opening of her home to less than grateful guests, walking around a high school track through the night to raise awareness for suicide prevention in honor of a neighbor, I don’t know how she does it. No one does. But I know I’m blessed to have her as a role model. She continually makes me want to be a better person, to not care what the world tells me, but only where God is leading me.

How does what you do for a living fit in with your passions and what you feel is your calling?

My job allows me to interact with people in a positive atmosphere all day long (whilst wearing stretchy pants!). When people walk into lululemon, it’s a kitchen party. You chat with friends and strangers alike, talking about everything from your nightmare cross fit workout that morning to how the lines at the Apple Store for the iPad 2 are just ridiculous. I get to connect with people on every level. We create community. At the core we have our similarities – the desire to live a longer, healthier and more fun life – but from there we split off into a million different directions. I relish finding those specific commonalities with others, building a foundation of relationship with them, and then jumping off from there to see where it takes you. We’re really here to help one another, and it all starts with community.

When do you feel most alive?

I feel most alive when I am creating. I am a huge creature of phases, so this looks different all the time. I’ll go through months where this explicitly means creating cards to mail my friends. Sometimes it’ll be creating community with coffee dates and beach walks, or making mix CDs, trying new recipes, taking photographs, I just thrive off of designing, organizing and delighting. What never changes is the emphasis on connecting. Whether it be sharing the creative process with someone, or merely dropping off cookies at a friend’s house, I love the connection. I feel most alive when I share a creation with another person in order to encourage them in some way. It’s my way of spreading joy to those around me.

What do you think is the most challenging thing about following Jesus as a 20-something girl?

The most challenging thing about following Jesus as a 20-something girl is remembering the bigger picture through God’s eyes. There are so many opinions floating around us everyday: our boss’ opinion of our work, what our friends think about our outfits, what the media says about that celebrity, etc.

Something that is challenging for me is to focus on God’s opinion. I know what the world deems successful, and some days it’s hard to drop that standard for God’s way of seeing things. Sometimes it’s just easier to believe what society tells us. But it doesn’t matter what they think. It doesn’t matter that Perez Hilton hated Jessica Simpson’s high waisted jeans. It does matter that God sees my “enemy” as His precious child. And it does matter that He sees me as His beautiful daughter worthy of love. I don’t believe either of these things often enough. I can read it, I can say it, but to live as if it’s true – that takes practice.

I have learned we need to make it a priority to practice. Once I remind myself of these truths I can get realigned and remember what I’m living for. The problem is there are so many points of view floating around, being shoved down our throats, manipulating us out of seeing God’s truth. It’s such a struggle to see life through God’s lens. Thankfully I’m blessed with reminders in the form of friends, family and the Bible. Because only when seeing with His eyes, loving with His heart and acting with His hands will we truly be following Him.

What do you think is the most rewarding thing about following Jesus as a 20-something girl?

Hope. And the firm belief that life is something so much bigger than our failures – than losing your job, struggling through insecurities, tight finances, broken relationships, and all of life’s tribulations. Following Jesus means these things don’t hold us back. Unfortunately it doesn’t mean that they don’t exist, but it means our identity isn’t found in them. Our identity is firmly rooted in the compassionate love of God. Of a God who gives us grace for just these times. This 20-something phase in life seems to reek of failure after failure. Yet Christ gives us hope by allowing us to redefine failure and turn back to Him, just as he did with Peter in Luke 22:31-32:

Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.

By grace, Jesus allows us to re-follow Him when we screw up, when our faiths fail, when we turn away. Just like that, when we decide to turn back, His door will still be open for us. He has accounted for our inevitable “failures” and made them useful. And when we turn back, He reminds us we can still serve each other. How can we not be filled with hope because of this radical grace?

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