A month or so back a friend of mine needed a few pictures taken and while I am not a professional I am not too shabby in a pinch and for free! I took several shots and what I saw behind the camera is what I always see when I’m with this person. Perfect hair, photogenic smile so I loaded the pictures to my computer took a quick look and sent them off for her to use. I was totally blown away the next day to find she did not see the same thing that I saw and she was picking apart her picture. When I look at other people it is their heart, their joy, the person I know on the inside that causes their beauty to shine through on the outside as well. Why can we not look at ourselves this same way?
This encounter really had me thinking and analyzing my own view of myself. I am my worst critic when it comes to looking at my outward appearance. There are days when I am more willing to accept the new lines on my face as I remind myself all the happiness I have enjoyed to cause them. Other days I see my sagging jawline and realize I am not 28 as my mind thinks I am and I do not like it one little bit!
I’m sharing this set of pictures so you can see the transformation!
Years of spending time out in the sun trying to get that perfect tan have left me with lots of “wisdom” spots and “angel kisses” all over my face. That tan that I was only looking for because it was a sign for me of outward beauty. My dark circles are hereditary and I loathe them. Who thinks dark circles are beautiful? The lines around my mouth and eyes from all the years of smiling are great…when I’m smiling! But would you believe those lines are still there, carved into my face when it is at a complete rest? Just a few tweaks with my blemish tool in the 2nd picture and don’t I look just a little bit easier on the eyes? Add a little makeup in the 3rd picture and I look prettier right? To me I do but only on the outside. What if it was just this easy to erase the ugly on the inside?
In my bible study this week I felt the following verse was placed there on purpose for me to find so I would finally write this blogpost. God is so sneaky like that.
1 Samuel 16:7
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
When I was in junior high I was far from beautiful on the outside. My glasses covered my face, I had braces sooner than most and I had hair that was neither curly nor straight and I had not a clue how to manage it. I was “bigger” than most of my friends which meant I was not always able to dress the same way they did, though I tried, which made me look even more awkward. At that point, however, I was still beautiful on the inside. Still seeking the Lord and wanting to be a girl after God’s heart. One day a guy I had been friends with since the first grade said to me “when you get to be about 16 you are going to be hot, just wait”. Just wait….just wait? I have never forgotten those words. From that point on I no longer searched for God to fill my heart with beauty on the inside and instead I turned my focus to wanting to be beautiful on the outside. Not just beautiful but “hot” and obviously not for God but for guys in general. I made choices that may have made me look more attractive on the outside but I was doing things that did not make me feel beautiful on the inside.
For literally years I only felt beautiful if a man was noticing me. I had to have that security of knowing someone found me attractive. Even when I was in a committed relationship I still felt the need to be noticed by other men. And guess what? It never was enough. I never felt like I was pretty enough. I was missing the chance to realize the full potential I had to be beautiful because I was more worried about finding my beauty from people rather than God.
1 Peter 3:3-4
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
The past five years or so I have felt more beautiful than ever before in my life and I know it’s because I’ve realized only by becoming more beautiful on the inside will I ever feel true joy. Do I wish I could take a photoshop brush and erase some of those blemishes in my past as easy as I can correct a picture? Or maybe use a little makeup to pretty up some of my memories? I’m really not sure I would. Those blemishes in my past serve as a memory of a time when I was lost and remembering them remind me so much of the grace God provides.
Today I am grateful for beauty; the kind of beauty I can only find on the inside.
Read previous Grateful Heart posts here.
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