But I don’t feel pretty!

I was recently skimming through Beth Moore’s book, So Long Insecurities.  Have you read it?  I read it through once, and then as I often do with books I like, I re-skim them.  Usually I’m looking for a part that struck me with the first reading.  I know it’s in there, but I typically  just can’t find it.  So I end up flipping through the pages, going  back to what I highlighted, reading more than I was thinking I’d read again, and enjoying the second read as much as the first.  I highly recommend this book!  Anyway, it brought me back to a few conversations regarding beauty that I’ve had with some of the people I love the best — a good friend and a couple family members.

For starters, my friend once confided in me that she didn’t feel pretty, even though her husband told her she was pretty to him.  Then a family member commented that her husband had exclaimed, “you’re so beautiful!”  She hadn’t responded at all, because she thought it untrue.  And finally, myself. Someone once asked me, “do you know how pretty you are when you smile?”  He must have asked at least three times, as each time I also didn’t respond.

We all see the pictures in the magazines.  We see ourselves in the mirrors, which in our opinions, don’t lie.  We see the beauty of another woman (who has carefully concealed her flaws), and we might secretly label ourselves as ugly or not good enough.  Of course with flattering outfits, makeup expertly done, hair perfected, and sometimes even a final airbrushing software (which removes all red spots, veins, any unwanted stubble of shaved armpits, fading roots of hair, and any visible unwanted mark), anyone can look stunning!

What do you think of when you think of beauty?  Women were created beautiful.  I was reminded of this when I worked at a hospital.  I got to go into patient rooms and visit with the patients.  I never knew what I’d see.  But I can promise you none of the woman I saw were “put together” by any means.  I typically saw hair molded to the shape of pillows, faces bearing no makeup, the unflattering potato-sack of washed out blue hospital gowns, and bodies weak with sickness.

One day though, I found a truly beautiful woman.  Radiant beauty actually.  I walked into a room that was packed with more flowers than a floral shop and smelled like I’d stepped into a garden, not a hospital room.  The room itself was warm and welcoming.  As I visited with the lady on the bed I was confronted with a wide smile and sparkling blue eyes.  Where hair should have been falling across her forehead or shoulders, there was nothing.  She was completely bald.  A distinctive aspect of her womanhood was long gone due to the ravaging effects of cancer. Yet she was beautiful.  I told her so too.  What made her a woman hadn’t left with the loss of her hair.

I found myself thinking of her throughout the rest of my day.  Beauty.  Womanhood.  They sort of go together.  I know, I know.  I don’t always feel pretty either when I compare myself to another, or when I look at a conceived personal flaw.  But I want to learn to be more gracious with myself, and to say “so long” to my insecurities.  I might look at an unkempt woman and think just that … she looks unkempt. However, I can’t think of the last time I looked at another woman, even without makeup or in an unflattering outfit, and didn’t see some beauty.   We tend to be very generous in our compliments of another, even if we don’t perceive ourselves in that manner.  Why is that?  I certainly like to feel pretty, and often take great care to groom myself.  But the fact of the matter is, beauty is really in the eyes of the beholder.  And guess what — your Maker thinks you are stunning — as long as you’re striving towards Christ-likeness!  Only sin damages the beauty that Christ sees in His daughters.

I may not always be able to accept a man’s compliment, but I shouldn’t ignore my Maker.  He can not lie!  Oh to live a holy life, pleasing to God, and not consumed with the world’s definition of beauty!  I’m right there too, this is hard to learn and it seems I’m constantly needing to remind myself that beauty is not just what a man may tell me (though that is nice), but it is given to me by my Designer, and it is deepened when my heart is pure before God

“Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord”. (Ps. 45:11 — This is a “wedding song” which God chose to include in His Word!  It is helpful to remember we are the bride of Christ (as members of His church)  and we can therefore determine that we can apply this verse to ourselves!)

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