International Women’s Day has come and gone this week.  It was a nice moment to remember the phenomenal women in our lives, including our courageous missionaries, and to give them the honour they deserve.  Pioneer cochlear surgeon Associate Professor Catherine Birman received the NSW Premier’s Award for Woman of the Year, hundreds gathered to celebrate women’s achievements and a few gathered to protest. Success, wealth and influence in the hands of women, who have decided to sacrifice for others, is a powerful game changer.  Honour is a beautiful thing and brings out the best in us. That got me thinking about the concept of being the ‘best version of ourselves.’  Oprah pretty much made her fortune exploring the idea of ‘living your best life’ as a modern woman.  We collectively spend millions of dollars a year on presenting ourselves in the best possible light, buying the perfect plumping mascara, the most figure flattering outfit, the power shoes that command respect, the haircut that says we know who we are and where we’re going.  Thousands of decisions are made on making good choices for us and our families over education, nutrition and lifestyle so that we can ‘live our best life.’  Our homes are styled in the latest fashion (thank you Kmart) and we pour over the boards on Pinterest to see what else we’re missing out on in order to ‘live our best life.’  We pick up the gossip magazines at the checkout to find out how our lives compare to those airbrushed superstars so that we can torture ourselves over that elusive ‘best life.’ As usual, the ways of God are very different to the ways of man (or women – which is saying something since men and women think so differently anyway), and, while I appreciate a great aesthetic, I fear that we neglect the place where our best life is really made (and, no, it’s not in the aisles of IKEA).  After all, this life is really the space where our true selves are being crafted by God to be lived out in a glorious eternity, where we truly will live out our best life. I love how the Message phrases Romans 8:38:“God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son.” My best version of self – and my best life – is found in surrendering my life to the hands of God, as He shapes me along the lines of Jesus.  And God knows what He’s doing.  Ephesians 2:10 tells us, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  It stands to reason, then, that the most rewarding focus of my life is seeing Christ revealed in me and giving my whole self to the good works he has planned for my life. The implements that God uses to construct his masterpieces are a little different to what we find on our dressing tables.  He uses things such as honour and love, obedience and submission, sacrifice and humility. Honour overlooks weakness and highlights strength.  It is the drawing out of loveliness and worthiness of others.  Love recognises the God-value and God-potential in every life.  Love is everything God is.  It gives the greatest expression to the Jesus being formed in us.Obedience and submission help us keep our pride in check as we learn the art of ‘coming alongside’ and serving others.  It is dying to manipulation and control – definitely not the best versions of ourselves.  Surrendering our will and desires to God,  creates some pretty stunning brushstrokes on that masterpiece!  Sacrifice is the ultimate outworking of Jesus in us.  In losing ourselves, we find our true selves (Matthew 10:39). Humility keeps us hungry to grow and learn more, to be curious and maintain a sense of wonder at the world and the things of God.  Humility creates lots of space in our lives for others, helps us receive correction and guidance and leads to wisdom.  Can I encourage us all to embrace God’s best life for us and not get caught up in the way the world presents such things?  We will discover the most freeing, flourishing life if we yield to His artisanship rather than to mankind’s.  And thank you for being such incredible women in my world. x