Because we’re all uniquely beautiful

It’s my goal in life to love others well and to remind them of how valued and beautiful and loved they are and how much they matter.

And apparently I still need to do a better job of reminding myself of those truths, as well.

I helped my sweet friend/mentor Cristy with her daughter’s graduation party over the weekend, and it was such a joy and honor to be included in all of the festivities for a girl I used to babysit many years ago who has become a beautiful young woman with a world of incredible possibilities ahead of her. The weather was pretty ideal (the party was outside), and I always love seeing people come together to celebrate and support and encourage one another.

At one point, I was chatting with Cristy and one of her friends, and one of them made a comment about how gorgeous all of the high school girls there were, which was completely true. And then I said something without even thinking: “They truly are. I was never that pretty when I was their age!”

OMG, Nat. Seriously?

Cristy is a walking heart full of love.

There are many reasons why God put Cristy in my life almost 20 years ago, and I believe that one of them is because she constantly speaks truth and encouragement into my heart. She immediately reminded me that she knew me back then and that what I just said wasn’t true. I probably never would have believed that back then, but what the heck had prompted me to think and say such a thing now—you know, when I’m supposed to be much more confident and assured of my unique beauty in God’s eyes?

The next day, someone I had just met used the word beautiful to describe me, and I had another weird moment of a negative thought: I must be in deceiving lighting. Oy vey. I’ve come a long way from the girl who thought she was ugly because guys weren’t asking her out, and now certainly isn’t the time to start sliding back down that heaping pile of poisonous quicksand.

No, Olivia, a fork is not actually a brush.

Later that day, I was running through the grass and driving around in a golf cart with my niece Olivia, and I started thinking about how much I hope and pray for her to grow up to be a confident and bold woman who knows exactly who she is and Whose she is and just how beautiful she is in Him.

And, as her aunt, that’s something I need and want to model for her every.single.day.

That doesn’t mean that I go around proclaiming that I belong on the cover of People’s “Most Beautiful” issue, but it does mean that I can walk in beauty with the assurance that I am who God says I am—His child. His daughter. His unique creation. His redeemed. His beloved. His. I don’t have to live in fear or shame or guilt or worry or doubt or insecurity or anything else that makes me think that I’m anything less than the person He created me to be.

Because I am free in Him to believe and know with all of my heart that I am beautiful as He created me—even with all of the things about me that might be seen as imperfections.

When I look at all of the women in my life, especially those in my immediate family, I can tell you right now that each one of them is incredibly beautiful in a number of ways. My mom has always shown me what it means to be confident in yourself, and never once did she say anything negative about my appearance or her appearance while I was growing up. (And that hasn’t changed. Almost two years ago, when I was on my way to my niece’s 1-year-old birthday party the day after I had been released from the hospital after one of my kidney surgeries, I had texted my mom that I shouldn’t be allowed in public because I was still puffy/bloated from all of the IV fluids that had been pumped in me, and she responded with this: “You are always beautiful! As the song goes, ‘You are amazing just the way you are.’”)

See what I mean? They’re gorgeous.

Then there’s my sister—I could go on and on about how beautiful she is inside and out. She looks and acts a lot like my mom, and she’s taught me a great deal about always trying to find the good in people. I also have my cousin Rachel and my Aunt Vickie (I consider them immediate family); my sister-in-law, Katie; my pretend mother-in-law, Darla (she’s my brother’s mother-in-law, but I’ve adopted her as my own, too, because she’s just so wonderful); and my nieces, Olivia and Evie, who have stolen my heart forever and I hope will always believe that they’re precious creations.

And I think pretty much every woman I know is beyond beautiful. But why is it so easy to affirm others in that regard and not ourselves? I don’t ever want to be like middle school or high school or even early and mid-20s Natalie, who always looked in the mirror with at least a little bit of disappointment. Now when I look in the mirror and have any negative thoughts, I give myself little pep talks. Just the other day, I had to say to myself, “Well, it’s been eight days since you’ve washed your hair, but it doesn’t look that awful, so at least you’ve got that going for you.”

I don’t like cliché and trite expressions, but I support the “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” one because it reminds me that God created me the way I am on purpose and sees me as beautiful. He sees you that way, too. Isn’t that wild and wonderful? The same One who created the entire universe and everything in it sees you as remarkably and uniquely beautiful. Who are we to think otherwise?

The next time you look in the mirror and see flaws, try to turn them into precious traits that only you have that mean something special. Those gray hairs? They’re strands of experience and wisdom. That pimple smack dab in the middle of your forehead? It’s keeping you humble and also might be further proof that you are, indeed, part unicorn. That skin that you think is a bit too extra? It’s more protection for your bones and can be turned into muscle whenever you feel like it. Those wrinkles around your mouth and eyes? They’re evidence of years of joy and laughter and frequent smiling.

All of those things are beautiful because they’re part of you, and you are beautiful. Believe that. Embrace it. Live it. Even though One Direction says you not knowing that you’re beautiful is what makes you beautiful, I think what actually makes you beautiful is knowing that beauty is in every single person and loving all people for the unique individuals they are.

And that includes you, my friend.

When you let yourself believe that you’re beautiful

I’ve always loved Target, but now it’s become an even more special place to me.

Because it’s a place where you can remind others just how beautiful and loved they are.

I was at the remarkable store the other day in the travel-sized items area because I know my priorities and needed a mini can of hairspray to have in my purse at all times. I started looking through my purse to make sure that I had enough toothpaste still left in there, as well, and then I lingered even longer when I started listening more intently to the conversation two teenage girls were having near me.

They were talking about an upcoming school dance they were about to have, and one of the girls (I’m going to name her Kirsten) was asking her friend (let’s go with Shelby) if she was going with some guy. The ensuing conversation went down right there at the end of the aisle of heartache and insecurity.

Shelby: No, I don’t think so.
Kirsten: Why not? You know you want to.
Shelby: Because he’s probably gonna go with Mykala. He was flirting with her a lot yesterday at lunch, and she’s so pretty. He doesn’t like me.
Kirsten: (says not-so-nice comments about Mykala that I’m not going to repeat
)

My heart broke. Did Shelby think that she wasn’t pretty enough to go with this boy? And Kirsten forgot to remind Shelby how beautiful she is and provide her with a bit of affirmation. I obviously needed to say something.

As I walked by them, I paused and said to Shelby: “You’re beautiful and should ask him, anyway.” And, even though she initially gave me one of those “I don’t want you all up in my business” looks and then muttered a sheepish “thanks,” I hope it encouraged her even just a little. (Yes, I do realize that it’s not always my place to jump in on other people’s conversations, but sometimes I do it—just ask anyone in my building who’s ever been in the elevator with me.)

I remember being Shelby’s age and feeling the same way she feels—like the other girls were prettier, and there was no way that any guy was ever going to want to go to a dance with me or date me. That’s why I always kept my crushes hidden (except for that one time I didn’t, and the guy I liked at the time wanted to make fun of me for having a crush on him). It caused me pain to hear the unhopeful tone in her voice as she told her friend that the guy she likes doesn’t feel the same way.

Charlie Brown was so right: “There’s nothing like unrequited love to drain all the flavor out of a peanut butter sandwich.”

And that was right after good ol’ Chuck had told his best buddy Linus that the Little Red-Haired Girl didn’t notice him because he was “nothing.” Oy. WHY MUST YOU BREAK MY HEART, CHARLIE BROWN? I hope that Shelby doesn’t think of herself the same way that sweet CB sees himself.

Monique is obviously gorgeous on the outside but also has such a beautiful heart.

It’s hard not to feel that way sometimes, though. I can think of too many times when I felt like I wasn’t good enough or pretty enough or popular enough or whatever enough to have even the slimmest chances to end up with the guys I liked in high school. And I wish that it had ended there—but it didn’t. I spent more years in college and in my 20s still thinking that I was lacking all of the things a young woman needed to catch the eye of any fella. I was eating nothing but bland peanut butter sandwiches.

And then something changed in my heart, which eventually helped to change my mind. I wish that I could say that those doubts never returned, but I’m a human woman, and they have a tendency to resurface every once in a while. I’ve gotten a lot better about getting rid of those thoughts, though, and replacing them with affirmations of who I am, rather than what I’m not.

My friend Monique gave me some solid advice recently. We were talking about something completely different, but I’m going to start applying it to almost every area of my life.

“If one of your nieces told you this, what would you say to her?”

I hope that sweet Evie always smiles when she sees her reflection.

If Olivia or Evie ever tried to tell me that she saw herself in a negative way or that she wasn’t good enough for someone, I would immediately refute those lies and replace them with the truth of how wonderfully made she is and how precious and valued she is. I would tell either of them: “Don’t talk about my niece that way.” (Thank you to my friend Ana for telling our book club that her husband always says “don’t talk about my wife that way” when she says something negative about herself.)

And maybe that’s something that we should say to ourselves more often: Don’t talk about myself that way.

I hope that Shelby got the courage to ask that boy to the dance. And, even if she didn’t, I hope that she eventually believes that she is beautiful and enough as she is, regardless of whether or not some guy feels the same way about her that she feels about him.

I hope that you know that your worth isn’t determined by what other people think, either. You have your own unique gifts and your own unique look, and you’re beautiful as you are. Don’t let anyone take that away from you.

And please don’t ever get the same mindset as our friend Charlie Brown and think that you’re nothing—you’re more something special than you may know, and I hope that your peanut butter sandwich always has an abundance of flavor.

When you stop believing the lies

Like many individuals, I’m not a fan of lies and the pain they cause people.

Especially when those lies are things we believe about ourselves.

I lead a group of high school sophomore girls at my church, but on Sunday evening, we had some leaders out of town, so I took all of the girls for the small group portion. The topic of discussion was lost hope and the feelings of rejection, and I went a little bit off script and decided to make all of the girls acknowledge and dismiss some of the lies in their lives. We went around the circle, and they all shared the lies that they’d either been told about themselves or that they believed about themselves.

These are some of my precious gems, and I couldn’t adore them more.

As each girl shared, my heart broke a little bit more. I felt so defensive of them as I heard these beautiful and precious young women share that there were certain things about their looks and talents that didn’t make them good enough, that they were “too much” of this and that, and that they were “useless” in certain regards. It truly hurt to hear these sweet treasures say that they felt ugly and not valued.

We discussed why these were all lies and addressed each one individually. I then went back around the circle to have each girl say “I am [name]. I am beautiful, and I am enough” and then asked her if she actually believed it. And I hope that they all genuinely know that those words they repeated are true.

It’s pretty easy not to feel valued in this world, regardless of whether or not you’re dealing with the emotional rollercoaster ride that is adolescence. Life isn’t always going to go your way, and whether you like it or not, rejection is something you’ll likely face at some point or another. I can’t really think of a more dignified way to say it right now, so I’ll just say this: It sucks. It might make you think that you’re too much of something or not enough of something else. That’s not necessarily the case, though—sometimes you simply aren’t meant to do what it is that you thought you were supposed to do.

We’re all so different, which is a good thing. Those differences don’t make us better or worse than one another—they simply make us uniquely made. Life would be ridiculously boring and predictable if we were all essentially clones of one another.

I love the movie Hitch. Yes, it has a great storyline for Hitch and Sara, but Albert Brennaman really makes that movie what it is for me. The man does his own thing, and he learns to be unashamed of who he is. Hitch tries to tell him to act a different way, but Albert reverts back to his actual personality and demeanor. I love what he says when Hitch questions his dancing: “That’s just a lot of me being me.”

I hope this little homegirl always knows how valued she is and never loses her spunk.

And that’s what we should all be doing—a lot of us being us.

Albert spills mustard on his shirt while sitting in floor seats at a basketball game, and it doesn’t faze him. He kisses Allegra Cole and ignores the instructions Hitch had given him regarding how to act when doing so (the dramatic toss of his inhaler was perfect). He dances the only way he knows how (which, as he was told by Hitch, was very badly) without caring about the opinions of those around him. He lives life his way, and he doesn’t let the lies that could potentially hinder him keep him from going after what he wants. He doesn’t even believe that he isn’t good enough for Allegra.

And guess what? He gets the girl in the end.

People might ridicule you or judge you or make you feel like there’s something about you that makes you inadequate. It’s also possible that you believe those lies about yourself without the help of anyone else making you think them. Stop believing those lies, and start reminding yourself that you are worth the investment in yourself to believe that you are capable and worthy of what your heart desires.

Lies are destructive, so remind yourself of this truth: You are enough.

And please believe it.

When you don’t let your appearance define your beauty

Like love, I think that beauty is often best displayed when it’s in action.

Especially out on the dance floor.

There’s a really pretty view of a lake behind us, but we’re completely blocking it, so you’ll just have to trust me that it’s gorgeous.

The weekend was full of travel for me. I flew from Orange County to Dallas late Friday night, got a couple of hours with my family Saturday morning, drove down to Austin with my friend for our friend’s wedding, took a long Lyft ride to the Austin airport and flew to LA early Sunday morning, and then rode back to Orange County with a coworker friend who was nice enough to offer to pick me up all the way up in LA.

I’m currently exhausted.

It was worth it, though. I loved being able to spend time with my family and snuggle my precious niece, and it was so nice to reunite with some of my friends and celebrate the love of Nina and her sweet hubs. And, as I’ve mentioned before, I LOVE the dancing that happens at wedding receptions.

Saturday night was no exception—that dance floor became my BFF. There were a few young girls out there (I’m guessing between the ages of 9–12ish), and two of them were standing in an area toward the back and not dancing. I kept trying to get them to dance, but they seemed a bit afraid and remained in their safe zone. It makes me sad when people don’t dance. Sure, there are probably some people who really just don’t enjoy it, but I think that there are a lot of people who probably do or would actually love it but are scared of looking ridiculous.

When it comes to dancing, sometimes the more ridiculous, the better.

Bear legitimately hates dancing, but we’re still friends.

Later in the night, those two girls finally started busting out their dance moves, and they looked like they were having the time of the lives. I was so happy, and I was filled with even more joy when they twirled across the floor with me during the slow songs—single people don’t always have to avoid the dance floor during the love ballads.

At one point, the DJ played Alessia Cara’s “Scar to Your Beautiful,” and my new homegirls and I were belting the lyrics together as we danced. In that moment, my heart made a silent wish that those girls would believe those lyrics with all of their hearts and that they would always know that they’re enough—that they don’t have to change who they are to try to fit the molds of who they think the world wants them to be. I hope that they always know how beautiful they are and that they should always dance every chance they get without worrying about what the people around them think.

When I boarded the plane (which Chrissy Metz from This Is Us was on, by the way) Sunday morning, there was a very attractive fella sitting in the row diagonally behind me. I immediately became more concerned than I would like to admit about my appearance (which was what someone who rolled out of bed at 4:34 a.m., threw on some clothes, and brushed her teeth might look like), but then I thought of my sweet little dancing friends, and I stopped. It didn’t matter what I looked like right then—what mattered was that my heart was full, and I’m confident in who I am. I even spoke to Mr. Attractive a little later, but I don’t think that we’ll be having our own wedding anytime soon.

In moments of fear, I hope I have the courage of the girls who were brave enough to dance. And I hope you do, too. We weren’t meant to stand in corners and watch as the world passes us by. We were meant to live—and live boldly—as the people we were always meant to be.

Because even with our scars and wounds and broken hearts and tears and fears and mistakes and flaws and memories and messes, we are beautiful.

When you weren’t expecting surgery

I know that life throws unexpected things at us sometimes, but there are certain unanticipated events I would prefer to avoid.

Like surgeries.

Last Wednesday, I had been feeling weird all day at work. I’ve had some kidney issues this year, but they’ve all been on my right side, and this pain was on my left. I thought it might be a kidney stone, but I also thought maybe I was just having really bad cramps or had eaten something that hurt my stomach. But there was also pain in my back, though I was trying to ignore it.

I went through the entire workday, but something simply felt off, and I was hurting pretty badly. My solution was to go home and go running. Listen, I don’t always make the wisest decisions in life, and this was probably one of the unwise ones. It turns out that, even though running often makes me feel better when I’m sad or even feeling a little sick, it’s not helpful for all of my ailments.

I got home and quickly showered so that I could go meet some friends for dinner. I was talking to my sister on the phone one the way, and she told me I probably shouldn’t go to dinner if I really wasn’t feeling well. I should have listened to her, but I didn’t. I showed up at one of my favorite taco places, but within three minutes, I left to go to the ER.

I’m becoming all too familiar with that place.

I was given lots of pain meds (after they only blew two of my veins that night), and then I went back for a CT scan. Surely enough, it was a kidney stone. The doctor told me it was a very large one and was the cause of the pain I had been feeling all day. But he said it was far enough along that it had almost run its course, so he sent me home with pain meds and another medication to help it pass. My sweet friend Bonnie had come to the hospital in case I needed a ride home, but apparently I was OK to drive, even after everything that had been pumping through my veins. She was a real trooper and followed me home and even stopped at two different pharmacies with me (we were misled to believe one was a 24-hour pharmacy, but it was not).

When I woke up the next morning, the pain was worse, and it was in the same spot. I was worried that somehow the stone was stuck. Bonnie called me to check on me, and thankfully she hadn’t left for work yet, because she ended up driving me back to the ER. The doctor there found that the stone was indeed an obstructive stone, which meant that it was so large that it had actually gotten stuck and was blocking stuff inside me, and I needed to have surgery to remove it. I told Bonnie to go to work since it was probably going to be a rather long day, and then my mom ended up coming to be with me. It was a rough day—none of the pain medicines they gave me were working, so they finally gave me what they said was the strongest medicine possible, and it sort of helped.

Bonnie and Michelle are keepers.

I was admitted to the hospital, but my surgery couldn’t be done until Friday, so I was basically just treated for pain all of Thursday and the majority of Friday. My mom stayed with me most of the day Thursday, and then my sister stopped by for a bit, and then Bonnie came back with my friend Michelle to help bring some smiles to my rather miserable situation.

I didn’t get much sleep that night, and I had to disconnect the heart rate monitor completely so that the machine would stop beeping at me. (I have a naturally low resting heart rate, but the nurses wouldn’t put it on a lower setting, so I told them I wasn’t going to wear it.)

Finally, the time for the surgery rolled around the next day (at which point I finally put on the hospital gown they gave me), and my mom and sister were both there at this point. Before taking me back to the operating room, the anesthesiologist gave me something that was supposed to relax me, but I don’t remember a thing after that until I woke up. I asked where my Wheat Thins were (priorities, people), and then I said I needed to talk to my sister and my mom. I briefly got to see them, and my sister told me the surgery was not successful.

Say what?

Apparently the stone was so large and in a difficult location that the doctor was unable to get it. He tried multiple times but told my mom and sister that if he had done anything more, he would have lacerated my ureter, which would have led to much worse complications and a much more extensive and invasive surgery to repair it. So, somehow he was able to push the stone back up into my kidney. I currently have a stent inside me that I have to wear for two weeks until I go see the doctor again for a different surgery that will hopefully get rid of everything.

But I didn’t have much time to react to any of that news—I was immediately taken away from my mom and sister because I wasn’t breathing right. They weren’t allowed to come back there with me, and the nurse kept telling me that I needed to breathe. I was still very woozy, but I thought I was breathing. She shoved breathing tubes up my nose and told me to breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth, but I don’t think I did a very good job because she took those out and then put an oxygen mask over my face. It was kind of a scary 30 minutes or so of not knowing if I was actually breathing or not. According to the machine beeping at me and the nurse coaching me, I wasn’t.

When I finally returned to a normal state, I was able to see my family again, and I was taken back up to my hospital room. I really just wanted to get out of there so that I could make it to my niece’s first birthday party the next day. (Yes, I know going was overdoing it, but I couldn’t miss that party for anything in the world—not even surgery.) My precious sister and heart-of-gold mom had bought me a bear while I was in surgery (we named him Bow to go along with my koala named Tie), and my mom took care of me all night and checked on me so many times to make sure I was still breathing.

If I could not go through this again, that would be great.

I don’t like still being in pain, and I really don’t like that the surgery didn’t work and that I have to go back for another one. I don’t understand why any of this happened, and maybe I never will. But I do know that I am so thankful for my people. I don’t know what I would have done without my sister, my mom, Bonnie, Michelle, the caring doctors and nurses, and the multiple people who kept texting me to check on me.

We’re all going to face some crappy situations in life, but sometimes we need our people to help us through—and faith that everything is happening for some greater purpose and that we are going to survive those tough times.

Life sure can be ugly, but love makes it so much more beautiful than we could ever imagine.

Nothing compares to you

I have to give major props to Sinéad O’Connor.

Homegirl knew what she was talking about.

Last week, one of my students was looking at a picture of a celebrity online, and she said, “Man, I can never get my hair to look like hers. Why does she have to be so pretty?” The girl next to her replied with, “I know–she’s perfect.”

And my heart broke.

As a high school teacher, I constantly hear young ladies say bad things about their own appearances and compare themselves to others. Then, when they do think they are looking their bests, they immediately take selfless and post to Instagram and Twitter to get as many “likes” as possible. Now, I’m not shaming the selfie completely, as I’ve certainly taken them with my friends, but I’m questioning the purpose.

When did it become so standard for people–particularly women–to size themselves up to other women and feel less-than-beautiful when they think they don’t measure up to a certain type of appearance? The thing is, we aren’t all supposed to look the same. We were each fearfully and wonderfully made (see Psalm 139:14), and it’s useless to think we should have to look like other people.

I LIKE ME
People should read this

I’ve mentioned before that I once tried to get rid of my freckles, but it was such a waste of time and energy. Truth be told, rather than focusing so much on trying to change some physical aspect of my body, I really should have been focusing more on my heart. The love that radiates and shines from within a person is much more powerful than anything on the outside.

And you shouldn’t feel like you have to change the way you look to impress others. They should love you as you are–and someone will truly appreciate those “flaws” you think you have. (Actually, there is Someone who already does.) I know my chest isn’t turning heads; my hair gets frizzy and full of static sometimes; I don’t have Beyoncé’s bootyliciousness; my freckles are still here; my nails are always short and are seemingly incapable of growing longer; my ears are really tiny; I have a chipped tooth from when a volleyball pole fell on my head; I have a scar above my right eye from when I went flying into the corner of a bench–and I’m sure there are many other things about me that could be “fixed.”

Because, as it turns out, I don’t look like Blake Lively, and Ryan Reynolds is not my main squeeze. (I know–shocking.) You know why I’m not like Blake Lively? Because I’m Natalie. She’s supposed to be Blake, and I’m supposed to be Natalie.

You are you for a reason, so be you. Just like Sinéad O’Connor sings, “Nothing compares, nothing compares, nothing compares to youuuuu.” (You might have thought I’d never get back to that point, so there you go. You’re welcome.) Stop comparing yourself to people you see plastered all over the Internet. Stop comparing your looks to those around you. Instead, compare your heart to what you want it to be. Are you loving enough? Are you living in grace? Are you compassionate to others?

Your sufficiency isn’t in how people respond to your body image. There’s a difference in being confident in the person you are and in needing others to validate that confidence. Social media can be great for many things, but it can be so detrimental in many other ways. When you look in the mirror, I hope you see beyond just the reflection looking back at you. That person you see is full of so much beauty and so much potential to impact the world in positive ways. And I hope you remember something so important and so true.

Nothing compares to you–and I hope you sing that loudly and proudly as you see that reflection every day.

Beholding beauty

In the culture in which we live, it’s easy to feel rather unattractive at times.

Especially if you have nothing to cover your blemishes.

I honestly normally don’t spend a ton of time on my appearance, because I really don’t care that much, but I will admit that there was one day last week that I just didn’t have much of a desire to show my face in public. I’m not positive what happened–I might have accidentally scratched myself in my sleep or come into contact with branches while I was running (it’s happened before)–but somehow I got a few scratches on my face. I don’t own any makeup, and the scratches were very noticeable, so I knew the only way they wouldn’t be seen was for me to crawl back into bed and hide beneath the covers for the rest of the day. That wasn’t even an option, so I left for work with a sour attitude, then I got even more frustrated with myself for caring so much about what my face looked like. I mean, who was I trying to impress?

Sometimes I wish mirrors didn’t exist.

I actually forgot about my face until every single time I went into the restroom and saw my imperfect reflection again. It also didn’t help when someone asked me, “What the heck happened to your face?” I was frustrated, so I just said, “Bar fight” and walked away. Other than that one incident, no one seemed to care about the marks on my face–I didn’t even notice anyone blatantly staring at them yet trying to be subtle like people often do when they are trying not to look at a huge zit on someone’s face but can’t seem to take their eyes off of it.

Later that day after work, I decided to go rollerblading, and I always listen to music while cruising on my wheels. A song I love by Nichole Nordeman came up on my playlist, and I think I needed to hear those lyrics that particular day. It starts off talking about how we often are so unsatisfied with what we see in the mirror, especially when we start comparing ourselves to others around us. Then the chorus begins:

Has anybody told you you’re beautiful? You might agree if you could see what I see. ‘Cuz everything about you is incredible. You should have seen me smile the day that I made you beautiful for me.

The truth is, no matter what we look like–or what we think we look like–we are still beautiful to the One who created us.

A couple of months ago, I went to a painting class with my friend Amanda. It was one of those classes where an instructor tries to walk everyone through in somewhat of a step-by-step fashion of creating a “masterpiece” of your own that you are trying to get to look like an already existing piece by an artist who actually had talent. By the end of the class, however, I was convinced my painting was beautiful. I didn’t care that it didn’t look exactly like the original work, and I certainly didn’t care that it looked nothing like anyone else’s around me. To me, it was perfect. I had created it, and it was special to me.

Image

And that’s how the Father sees us.

I wasn’t created to be a supermodel or have my face plastered across billboards, and that is absolutely fine with me. Rather than being upset about a few scratches on my face, I need to make sure there aren’t any scratches on my heart–inner beauty is more appealing than outer beauty, anyway. The song “Beautiful for Me” continues on with some fitting lyrics:

If it’s true beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, I want my life and what’s inside to give Him something to behold. I want a heart that’s captivating. I want to hear my Father saying…

It goes back to the chorus after that, and as I was rollerblading I realized that it’s the heart that really matters. Regardless of what my appearance looks like, I want my heart to be captivating. There are days when my hair is frizzy; there are times when my clothes don’t match (that’s actually almost all of the time, but anything matches if you wear it with confidence); there are moments when I’m reminded that teenagers aren’t the only ones who get blemishes on their faces; there are days when every outfit I put on looks stupid to me; there was a time when I tried to remove my freckles; there are instances when I wish I weren’t so pale; there are just some days when I want to look different.

But I don’t need to.

I went somewhere with my sister this weekend, and she texted me beforehand trying to warn me that she looked horrible. She claimed that her hair was a disaster and that she really shouldn’t be seen in public. If you’ve never seen my sister, let me just tell you that she is beyond gorgeous. She is definitely the most beautiful person I know, both inside and out–she takes after my mom in that regard. It was a day that my sister wanted to look different.

But she didn’t need to.

Let’s be honest, one day you’re probably going to reach an age where your good looks escape you. Then what’s left? I don’t think there’s an age you can reach where you lose that captivating heart.

God’s love for us is unchanging–it doesn’t matter if we are having bad hair days or feel like we’re just not pretty enough. You’re more than pretty. You’re beautiful.

I don’t care what anyone says–my painting is a masterpiece.

And so are you.