It makes life worthwhile. It makes a house a home. It makes ordinary moments dazzling. It is beauty. We can find beauty almost anywhere if we really look. Yet the place that the American woman is least likely to find beauty? In her own reflection. Why is it hard to see beauty in ourselves?
Years ago my daughter posted a sticky note on my bathroom mirror that said, “You are beautiful Mom!” I saw it, read it, and thought, “How sweet! I love my sweet daughter!” But did I take the message to heart? Did I look at my reflection and think, “Yes, I am beautiful!” NOPE! I immediately dismissed it as the foolish sentiments of a child who did not yet recognize true beauty. I was the adult, and I had lived with my not-so-beautiful self for a long time, and I knew that I wasn’t beautiful. One little sticky note was not going to change the facts.
Yet I began to consider this – perhaps children are the best judge of what is beautiful; being young, innocent, and having no hidden agendas. Perhaps if my daughter truly believed that I was beautiful, then I should believe it too. Interesting idea… but it takes time and effort to change those ingrained thought patterns.
Awhile after the birth of my seventh child, I was looking at myself in the mirror and lamenting. I wasn’t back to the shape that I wanted to be in. In fact, I suspected that my body would never be the same. Not that it was perfect to begin with. I was feeling quite sad and disgusted with myself. Then I heard the soft voice of God speak into the mess that was my own thoughts.
“Do not direct hatred toward that which I love. Do not despise that which I call holy.”
He said it with love and a solemn seriousness. I felt a holy fear of the Lord, and suddenly I realized several things. I despised and hated the way that I looked. My attitude towards myself offended God because he created me, loved me, and valued me so highly. He said that my body was his temple and his temple was holy. His temple required honor and I was not giving myself that honor, therefore I was dishonoring him. But more than anything else, I realized that he loved me…and his love made me beautiful.
After that I would practice loving myself the way that God did. I would speak beautiful words over me like, “Body, you are the temple of God! The almighty God lives inside of you! You are holy! You are a wonder!” I wanted to speak blessings over myself rather than curses.
Sue Monk Kidd wrote about a touching scene that she had witnessed. A young girl was sad and ashamed after someone had made fun of her freckles. Her Grandmother tried to get her to see the truth.
“I love your freckles! What could be more beautiful than freckles?” her grandmother told her.
With all sincerity, the child turned to her grandmother and answered, “Wrinkles!”
Why were wrinkles so beautiful to the young girl? Because the face that loved her had wrinkles. And what is more beautiful than the face that loves you? My own grandmother was one of my favorite people when I was younger. She was fun and spent endless hours reading comic books to me, playing games with me, and taking me on hikes. She loved me, and I thought her wrinkled, tan, and slightly leathery face was beautiful! She did not agree with me, however. I would find family photos, taken during our fun adventures together, with small little circles cut out of them. I would study them more closely and realize that the holes were always in the place where Grammy should have been. I asked her why she did this, and she would answer, “I didn’t like how I looked in that picture.”
To me, a photographic memory that contained an empty space was ruined! And for what? So Grammy could feel better that no one else would see her looking less than perfect. But she was beautiful to me! Love, gentleness, and kindness make us beautiful. We need less make-up and more love! I need to scowl less at my children and smile more!
Are you having trouble finding beauty in the mirror? Believe what your children know about you! When you are looking into the face of your baby and thinking that this child is the most beautiful sight in all the world, I bet your baby is thinking the same thing about you! Believe your husband when he gives you a compliment. When he refers to you with that special term of endearment, open your heart to it and let it in! Chris likes to call me “Cutie”, and I love it. I am pretty cute, now that I think about it!
Beauty is always found in the face of the one who loves you! If you can’t seem to find beauty in yourself, gaze into the face of Jesus. In his face you will find perfect love, perfect peace, and perfect beauty. His love makes us lovely. As we behold him, we become like him. And if you look long enough, you will realize that the perfect beauty…is who you really are!