Sunday, August 29, 2010

Communicating God’s Grace With Our Bodies!

by Margot Starbuck

In the recent Tina Fey and Steve Carrell movie, Date Night, the married couple discretely peeks over their menus, eyeballing other couples in a fancy restaurant. Nodding toward a couple at the next table, one spouse asking the other, “What’s the story?” With only the information that could be gleaned from a glance, one partner playfully creates a fictional story about those dining.

We glean information about others, about who they are, with a single glance.

My husband and I played a similar game when we were dating. If a couple at the next table looked distracted or bored, we’d jump to the conclusion, “They’re married.” Yet if a couple appeared to be completely enamored with one another, if their faces communicated an entirely unconditional love and acceptance of the other, we figured, “Not married.” We began to call that starry-eyed gaze, the one that says, “There is not one single thing I’d change about who you are,” The Look of Unconditional Love and Acceptance, or more simply, the Loulaa.

This fun party trick is not just for romantic situations. I suspect you’ve seen that look of delight on the face of a giddy grandparent, or a proud aunt, or—I am assured by animal lovers—on the sloppy face of your crazed dog when you walk in the front door after a long day. The Loulaa simply communicates to another that she or he is entirely beloved and accepted as they are.

We give information to others, about who they are, with a single glance.

Saturated with the conviction that another has been entirely loved by God in Jesus Christ—regardless of how she looks, how she performs, or who she knows–the Loulaa communicates that she is entirely precious.

Sisters, this is something that we do with our bodies! With our eyes and mouths and faces we communicate to another that she is altogether beloved by God. When we walk by an immigrant on the sidewalk, our faces communicate, “You belong.” When we interact with others who serve our food, our eyes communicate, “You are entirely accepted.” When we encounter someone whose race or religion is different than our own, our faces reflect, “You are beloved.”

When Jesus encountered a woman from Samaria who was the wrong religion, the wife of five husbands and mistress of one, I have to believe that what she saw on his face was the Loulaa. Nothing else makes sense. After encountering a stranger who called her out on her sin, she skips away to share the good news with others. I am convinced that—regardless of her virtue—she encountered a face that communicated her undeniable value and belovedness.

My husband and I just celebrated our fifteenth anniversary. Though the Loulaa has indeed given way to all sorts of other expressions, it remains the truest incarnation of God’s own face. It’s not one that denies sin, like a giddy infatuated lover, but rather, like Jesus, communicates a reality much more powerful than the hissing lies of the deceiver.

You do this, too. Do it wisely.


  1. To speak vulnerably, where I am convicted the most is to be how loving Jesus was amidst the whirlwind. He had just finished a mega church sermon with multiple baptisms. The Bible states he was tired from his journey. (John 4:6) Because Jesus was loving and had what Margot Starbuck labeled "Look of Unconditional Love and Acceptance (Loulaa)", Jesus' influence went from the community of one to the core leadership of Jesus, back to the Samaritan congregational community.

    For me as a ministry leader I do not have an inside out full circle ministry development thought with each conversation. Keeping in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:25) is more difficult than assumed.

    Hmmm, think, think, think.

  2. Galatians chapter 5 states that 'faith' works by love. I have learned from faith-filled people of God that you have to have the "Loulaa" if you want to walk in faith and victory. I am always taken back by how many Christians refuse to Love Unconditionally! Let's get with it and develop this ability. I believe it's the only way to victorious living.

  3. Love this, Margot! A smile does wonders in making people feel special! A hug (also done with the body) conveys amazing acceptance. A twinkle in the eye. A high five. A tousle of a child's hair. A helping hand--literally. It goes on forever. Then we can add words for even more impact.

  4. Beautiful. Our faces communicate, "You belong." Our smiles communicate, "You are entirely accepted." Thank you for the reminder that we ARE the body, created to live it out.

    Grace and Peace,

  5. I loved this! It made me stop and think how often do I do this -- smile "you are accepted" or communicate "you belong." I hope that my recollection is accurate that I do it quite often, but now I can be more aware by repeating to myself "do the loulaa!" Thanks for a wonderful refill.