“Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.
- Kahlil Gibran
During lunch yesterday, I was flinching through some pictures taken of me during a recent girls’ getaway. I actually wanted to cry while looking at them. And then, the image of a little girl I saw about three years ago flashed across my mind. How thankful I am that God brought this memory to me. I sat back in my desk chair and smiled to myself as the comforting memory of that girl washed over me.
I had let a girlfriend talk me into going to a local street festival and I instantly regretted that decision as soon as we arrived. I had never seen so many people in one place. How in the world was I going to shrink into the background with so many people walking around and bumping into me? It was complete torture for me so when my friend suggested that we go sit and listen to the street band, I said “yes!” before her attention went elsewhere. Naturally, I chose the very back row in which to sit and enjoy the music. That way, I could sink down in the chair in my own little world and hide.
And then I saw her.
She practically danced her way down the aisle towards the front of the stage where the band was performing. Her worn but clean sundress fit neatly on her chubby frame and short red curls bounced on her shoulders as she marched. She could not have been more than eight years old and she was on a mission to get to that stage where two other little girls were dancing. And they were not just any girls. They were dainty, blue-eyed, and very blonde. They took one look at her and started whispering and giggling. I just knew this was not going to turn out well. But the red-haired girl took her place and started dancing, not caring what anyone thought. The look on her face was one of pure joy. The other two girls tried making fun of her but their efforts were in vain and she continued to dance. They quickly gave up and walked away. And still she danced.
And she was enchanting.
She gave all her heart up there in front of everyone and we could not take our eyes from her. I wondered if she would always be like that or would she succumb to our culture’s message to fit a certain mold or its touched-up definition of beauty. I longed to have that confidence. I wanted to kick off my flip-flops and join her but fear kept me glued to the seat. What would everyone think? Why do we care so much about others’ opinions of us? It keeps us from enjoying life and also keeps us from fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives. I have to be honest that I struggle the most with believing that God made me beautiful. And for years that struggle took me on a dangerous ride of anorexia, later bulimia, promiscuity, and other destructive behavior. Even now as a Christian, I still struggle with it as I stand in front of the mirror so many pounds heavier, wrinkles forming on my face, and in desperate need of a hair color retouch to cover the gray. To tell you anything different would not be honest and I promised that this blog would always be honest. I am a work in progress.
But I do know that God loves us with all our imperfections. We are all a magnificent creation of God. Just think about that for a minute. God created us. Wow! That alone makes us a masterpiece. That is what I grab onto when I am at my most vulnerable moments with self-image. And as I learn more about how to take care of my body and be healthier, I also spend more time with God. And the more time I spend with Him and clothe myself spiritually, the more His glory and beauty radiates on me. And spiritual beauty, my dear friends, is the most breathtaking beauty of all.
So, this evening I will print out one of those pictures of me with my amazing friends, frame it, and place it on my writing desk to remind me of God’s blessings, love, and beauty.
And then I will dance.
“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.” (Psalm 139:14, NKJV)