My sisters and I couldn't have been more different. Not that there isn't a family resemblance (we are all awesome), but one of us is short, one of us is tall, and one of us is, well, medium-ish. And the differences don't stop there. But, growing up, perhaps the most striking difference lay in our own personal goals and dreams. My oldest sister, who could have done her own load of laundry with just pink clothes, dreamed of a husband and cherub-faced children and a little home of her own. My middle sister, who liked to bake brownies with jalapenos in them, wanted to travel the world, try exotic foods, experience heart stopping adventures, and learn as many languages as she could. And I, well, I dreamed of beauty.
Years later, my oldest sister is an adorable stay at home mom with three precious (if somewhat crazier than she bargained for) children and a loving husband. My middle sister has half a dozen languages to her credit, knows how to scuba dive, has eaten scorpions, and had to get extra pages added to her passport because she ran out of room for stamps. And I, well, I'm still dreaming about beauty.
I've pursued beauty in almost every arena available. I've sat in concert halls, I've wandered through art museums, I've sunk deep in the written word. I've looked for the most vibrant sunrises, cherished quiet moments in nature, taken time to admire the dew dripping off a single blade of grass. (And, I confess, I've watched dumb movies just because the actors were pretty people.)
But here's the thing. You know how I told you one of us was tall? That one of us was me. As in, closing in on six feet. And did I mention that I grew up in south east Asia? My next door neighbor literally came up to my waist. Being uncomfortable about my height made me uncomfortable about every other part of my physical self. It was also extremely difficult to find clothes in my size, so I ended up wearing a lot of boy clothes. They didn't fit me right. And then I got braces. As a junior in high school. And then one of my friends dared me to chop off all my hair--and I was stupid enough to do it. It wasn't pretty. And it definitely wasn't "beautiful".
The truth is, though, that while I was struggling with my physical beauty (and managing to surround myself with beautiful friends so that I could at the very least enjoy looking at them if I couldn't enjoy looking in the mirror), God was working to develop a beautiful heart in me. My looks just took some time to catch up. About five years worth of time.
The interesting thing is that around the time He started really dealing with me regarding my depression issues and I began to be proactive in my life choices in order to confront said depression and the lies that it told me, the catch up began to occur. Instead of looking in the mirror and being startled by my presumed ugliness, I was able to look in the mirror and see the woman that God had "fearfully and wonderfully made". Because of this I started carrying myself differently, with confidence instead of shame. I paid more attention to the clothes that I was wearing--not out of vanity but out of a desire to dress well the body God had graciously given. I learned to tend to my personal and physical need for beauty the way I had long tended to my intellectual need for beauty. I then recognized that the joy I felt in reading a well-written poem or seeing an exquisite work of art extended to me: created by God's hand, in his image.
A year or so later, the Man and I fell in love. And may I just say, there is very little more beautifying than being truly loved by someone else. Did my physical features change? No. Did I lose inches off my gargantuan height? No. Did my feet somehow shrink to an acceptably smaller size? Not in the least. But because he loved me and tangibly acted out God's love for me and I believed that he loved me (all of me), I felt beautiful and so I was beautiful.
Interestingly enough this happened yet again when Littles was born. He looked at me adoringly and told me I was the best mommy ever, and I believed him. And it showed.
And then again when Tiny was born. He snuggled his head in my neck and stretched out his arms to tell me he loved me "much", and I believed him. And it showed.
So I wonder, I just wonder how this world would be transformed, how we would be transformed, if, when God whispered to us, "I love you. You are beautiful to me." we believed him. Would it show?
Incidentally, with two more kids on the way, watch out, world. Buy some sunglasses because I may just become blindingly beautiful this time around.