I am told that we all have our own definitions of beauty. As individuals, we all see things differently and judge beauty in our own way. If that’s the case, why do so many of us feel that we aren’t beautiful? Why are we still given a standard to measure ourselves in order to feel beautiful which translates into feeling valuable? Why do so many put value on looks to the point that we now have several generations of women who feel less than valuable? Even those who match society’s standard of beauty continue to hunt down perfection in the form of weight loss, plastic surgery and beauty treatments. I have decided, I’m not interested. That is not the kind of beauty I want to pursue.
When I was five years old I had “plastic surgery” (I still think that is a better name then its sanitized replacement “cosmetic”). My parents had been told that the birthmark on my face needed to be removed before I went to school. Their reasoning had to do with the emotional harm it would do to have this brown mark on my lip. So sometime mid-kindergarten, I had a skin graft from behind my ear and the birthmark was removed. They “fixed” my imperfection…or so they thought. The graft didn’t heal properly and I was left with a raised scar. Sometime when I was six they tried to fix it but the result was a larger, red and noticeable mark on my upper lip made even more obvious by the missing cupids bow. So, instead of a natural mark on my face, I had an unnatural looking scar. This man-made attempt to make me more acceptable only served to make things worse. This caused countless questions along with ugly name calling from peers and adults (who often scrunched up their face as they questioned “What happened to your lip?!”). The scars left on the inside went unnoticed for years and my attempts to prove my worth only brought more distance between myself and those around me.
As I grew older, my weight became a constant struggle. I could have become thankful that now my face was acceptable when I would hear, “You have such a pretty face, you would be beautiful if you lost weight!”. The media, daily life and unfortunately church held no safe haven for a girl who wasn’t the “right” size. What I find “beautiful” is that although I weigh substantially more than I did then, I now know where my true worth and beauty come from. The magic number of pounds shed that I believed were going to add to my worth was a tiny percentage of what it would take now to reach that goal weight (or pinnacle of perfection) that alluded me for so long.
There are a thousand stories within this story but lets flip the pages ahead to the present. Where I am now, what I am learning and the joy that is filling my soul. I am much more settled in who I am because I know much better now, whose I am.
God is my only judge. He created me, He loves me and He gets to tell me if I am beautiful or not. If we judge beauty by societal standards, nobody will ever match up and we miss the Creator’s intent. We miss seeing His heart and we miss seeing His true beauty in ourselves and in others. We end up pursuing the unattainable and in that pursuit we are never satisfied, never filled up and for many, never able to grasp the intimacy that the One who created us intended to have with Him.
As I learn to abide in Him, in my Savior, my eyes will be on Him. His love for me will become more evident and His grace will not only flow to me, it will flow through me. When I am walking in His Spirit and grace, my responses to pressure, to life, to things that truly may be ugly will create beauty in the hearts of those around me.
Dear Friends, pursue Him. Pursue the One who makes all things beautiful! Follow hard after the Creator of all beautiful things! Not only will you see beauty, you will experience peace.