You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way. Song of Songs 4:7
Some days just start out bad, and yesterday just happened to be one of those days. Besides the fact that it was Monday, I was exhausted, I couldn’t do anything with my hair, and since it is summer, my kids can’t seem to get motivated to get out the door, making me late for work, AGAIN! I didn’t feel like putting much effort into anything else, so I reached for the first and easiest article to put on, a dress in my least favorite color-yellow! Bad hair day, cranky kids, even crankier Mommy, and yellow? Yep, today was going to be NO good!
But, then that same dress, in that color I hate became the subject of a random and unexpected compliment: “I just had to stop and tell you how fabulous you look in yellow!” What? You mean despite the fact that my hair is an unruly, curly mess? That I have under eye circles that would put a raccoon to shame, and I absolutely hate yellow? Someone still saw beyond all the other things I have criticized myself for this morning?
I was reminded of a Sunday School lesson I did several months ago. One that resulted in the portrait above, along with self-portraits of several very self-critical 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade boys and girls.
As I asked a group of 8 to 11 year olds how many had something about themselves that they didn’t like, I was amazed at how many hands were raised in response to the question. Nearly every hand shot up, along with a few comments about skinny knees, big noses, and crooked teeth.
“Do you realize all those things about yourself that you do no like, God loves? And, that he wants us to show how much we love Him, by loving how He has made us?”
And, so began a lesson on self-love for a group of 8 to 11 year olds. Which made me start wondering where exactly our distorted view of beauty and self-worth comes from. Why would a young child be so quick to raise their hand to point out their flaws, and not what makes them wonderful? And, why do we, the adults, do the same?
We can start placing blame on media. On fashion magazines that continue to glorify pin thin (and airbrushed, mind you!) models. We can blame this on the 50 plus years that Barbie has been around, had babies, grown older, and still managed to stay unrealistically skinny. We can blame it on a history that has scorned and ridiculed people who dared to look different, or be different.
Or, we can recognize the problem that lays before us and teach each other how to love once again.
How to love God. How to love ourselves. How to love each other. Despite our differences. Despite our flaws. Despite our size. Despite our cellulite. Despite our unruly hair, raccoon eyes, skinny knees, big nose, and crooked teeth.
For we are God’s masterpiece. Ephesians 2:10
The truth about our image does not lie in the pages of fashion magazines or swimsuit catalogs. It doesn’t reveal itself in the Barbie aisle at Toys R Us.
It reveals itself in the Word of the One who created us. Who created us as His masterpieces.
“Now, write three things you like about yourself. Your classmates will then do the same with each portrait.”
Recognizing the good. Not the bad. Celebrating our strengths. Not our weaknesses. Building each other up in love. Not tearing down with self-hatred, and self-loathing.
“Ms. January. Someone wrote pretty and cute. I am not those things!”
“Sure you are, honey. Because, God made you that way. And someone else sees you in this way, too. In another’s eyes, you are pretty, cute, and beautiful!”
Just like I was yesterday morning in a Starbucks parking lot. Just as I am every morning in the eyes of God.
Just like you are.
A beautiful and wonderful masterpiece!