If you’ve ever looked in the mirror and not liked what you’ve seen, you’re not alone. I have spent a lot of my years being self-critical about my reflection. I have always complained about the bump in the middle of my nose, my thin lips, my fat cheeks, and my thin, lifeless hair (which is mostly gray under the beautiful color job my stylist gives me every six weeks). I’ve worried over freckles, wrinkles, lines, and dark circles. I’ve cursed my fair skin and longed for tons of melanin so that I could be a tanned goddess. (Although I do have a nice “glow” now as summer is winding down, my daughter had the same glow after two days at the pool.)
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I have to admit that I’ve kind of been aged-obsessed as well, and it started early on. On my twenty-fifth birthday, my mom had this gorgeous cake made. It was inscribed, “Happy Quarter-of-a Century Birthday!” I freaked out and cried. I refused to eat it. To this day, I don’t know why. I was twenty-five, for goodness sake! I was obsessing over the fact that I was halfway to thirty. Such a crazy, immature thing to do! (This is probably my most embarrassing admission to date.)
I have purchased magazines that told of facial exercises, beauty tips (and tricks), recipes for facials, and advice on the latest, make-up trends. I wanted to be glamorous. I’ve wanted to be the girl that turned heads. I’ve secretly wished to be movie-star-beautiful. I’ve wanted to be anyone but the Sandy I saw in the mirror.
But I don’t feel that way anymore. I have finally realized that I am beautiful. In fact, I’ve always been beautiful — I just missed it. I am beautiful because God made me beautiful.
I praise you because You made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What You have done is wonderful. I know this very well. (Psalm 139:14, NCV)
The knowledge that I couldn’t achieve beauty in the Walgreens beauty aisle was a freeing realization. The realization came with a peace that I’d never known. I stopped watching the infomercials and started to read my Bible more. I put God’s Word into action: I started smiling more; I started speaking to strangers and sharing Jesus; I started sharing hugs and telling people how much I loved them (even the ones who are unlovable some of the time); I started checking up on the sick in my church and community; I reconnected with people with whom I’d fallen out of touch. Suddenly my life was full of OTHERS and less of ME.
And a funny thing has happened: I’ve started getting compliments about how beautiful I am, how young I look, and how much thinner I am (even though the scale sometimes didn’t agree). I learned that God has cornered the market on beauty and all I have to do to tap into that beauty is to let Him shine through me. God has His own brand of charisma and because He lives in me, I have charisma too.
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The lines, crow’s feet, wrinkles, freckles, and the bump in the middle of my nose? They’re still there. I just don’t mind them anymore. And when I look at myself in the mirror and doubt starts to creep in (and it does), I just say a quick prayer of thanksgiving. I close my eyes and count to ten. When I open them and look back in the mirror, I see Jesus looking back. How beautiful and wonderful is that?
What makes YOU beautiful and wonderful?