Monday, April 18, 2011

Beautiful Things

When I was sixteen years old, I was preparing to attend my junior prom with my boyfriend (who is now my husband). I had tried on several dresses and had found one that I thought might be “the” dress. I begged my parents to come to the mall so I could try it on for them. They were helping pay for it, plus I wanted their feedback. But deep down, I knew (even though I never would have admitted it aloud) what I really wanted was for my father to tell me I was beautiful. I don’t know why it was so important to me, but in that moment, I  desperately wanted the man who raised me to look at me all dressed up and see that I was a beautiful young woman– not just outwardly, but inwardly. I was hungry to hear those words from this person who meant so much to me. Beautiful. You are so beautiful.

Recently I have been reflecting on that feeling and I’ve realized that for a long time, I have wanted so much to be told that I am beautiful. And again, it is not really about outward beauty (although I wouldn’t argue with having some of that!). It’s about my desire for the people I care about to look at me and see something special inside, something beautiful.

The problem is that I have spent so much time chasing after all sorts of things in hopes of making people see me as special and beautiful– and, for that matter, to try to see myself as special and beautiful. I have looked for my value and worth in numerous things, from achievements to physical attractiveness to my role as a mother. And yet, no matter how hard I’ve tried, it’s never been quite what I’m looking for. Underneath it all, I still have not felt beautiful or special. I have felt as though I’m whoring myself out in search of affirmation, and any affirmation I do get is short-lived and provides limited satisfaction.

What absolutely blows my mind is that I am beautiful, not because of anything I have done, but because God says so. I am created in his image, and he is the one who defines my worth and value. Anything I do on my own will be empty. When I am trying to show people how intelligent or insightful (or whatever else) I am, it is an attempt to take matters into my own hands in hopes that they will admire and validate me. But if I will step back and allow God to shine through me, people will certainly see something beautiful and special– but they won’t just be seeing me. They will be seeing him– and that is the beauty I want to reflect.

You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of the dust.
You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of us.
-Gungor- Beautiful Things

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