I stood in the baby aisle at Target, overdue with my first child. Every inch swollen with expectancy. I read labels of diaper ointment and rubbed the foot kicking my side.
Someone stood beside me. I could feel her staring at my profile. I pointed my belly towards her and smiled. She leaned in and said the words like I took her breath away, “Oh, you’re so beautiful.”
I looked down at my too-tight shirt and tugged it over my child. I couldn’t see my feet, but I knew the flesh pressed out of my sandals.
Me? I looked around the empty aisle.
I smiled shyly, smoothing my messy hair. How I longed to hear those words and not just because I was awkward and uncomfortable. I never felt like a beautiful girl. Cute, sometimes pretty, but never beautiful.
And then she tried to sell me Mary Kay.
My face flamed. I dropped the butt paste and turned, leaving my cart and my pride in the baby aisle.
I believed the stranger for a second and then it was back to self-loathing.
I continued to pass mirrors without looking and tried to disappear in a room full of pretty people.
It was years before I believed I was beautiful. It was years before I realized beauty had nothing to do with my complexion or eyebrow shape or latest fashion.
Ralph Waldo Emerson says beauty is an outward gift, but I believe true beauty on the outside begins when we love ourselves on the inside. It is perfected when we love others more than ourselves.
“Beauty is not in the face, beauty is a light in the heart.” -Khalil Gibran
Beautiful isn’t a feeling. It’s His light in our hearts making us glow. When I started taking care of the inside, loving myself, others more, that’s when I started to feel beautiful.
I am getting older: my hair is turning gray, laugh lines (wrinkles) are evident and my once-firm body, isn’t.
But then I remember:
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:3
I watch my 12 year old daughter. She is in the discovery stage. She fixes and primps and seeks out beauty in the mirror. I pull her close at night, we read, talk, I pour into her: Beauty on the outside isn’t bad, but what are we doing to make the inside match?
I ran my fingers thru her hair the other night and ask: “Would you rather be gorgeous on the outside and just okay inside or stunning on the inside and okay on the outside?”
She said, “Can I be both?”
I laughed and said yes. But I gave her a challenge. One I want to offer to you:
For every minute, hour you spend primping and beautifying the outside- your hair, clothes, body, etc. I want you spend that same amount of time on the inside.
I reminded her it’s not just about doing good works: it’s putting others first, serving, encouraging and forgiving. Inner beauty comes from accepting our weaknesses and offering them to God. Beauty is seen in being genuine and spending time with God. It’s about who you are when no one is looking. It’s about fearing God.
And now I’m talking to me.
Because odds are I will wake up tomorrow and catch a glimpse in the mirror and wonder if I’m beautiful.
My answer will have nothing to do with my appearance.
Written by Kristen Welch, We are THAT family