I have a confession.

And it’s an embarrassing one.

But I’m going to tell you anyway.

I love that pop song by the teenage boy band, What Makes You Beautiful. And when I say I love it, I don’t just mean I think it’s catchy and will hum along should it happen to come on the radio. Oh no. I mean that I will search it out on the radio, crank it up and sing along as loudly as my far-from-teenaged lungs can manage. I mean that I have convinced my four-year-old it’s our favorite song. I mean that I have been driven to defend it to my friends who point out (and rightfully so, I suppose) that I am about 20 years past that band’s target audience, and don’t I feel just a little ridiculous?

Yeah, I really love it.

Why? Why am I obsessed with such a fan of this silly song? Is it that the first notes of the song (and the video, if you must know) echo the song Summer Nights from Grease, one of my favorite musicals/chick flicks/movies ever? Is it that I admire the songwriter’s audacity to consider rhyming “make-up” and “cover up” acceptable? Is it that I simply love the floppy hair and sweet harmonies of British boy bands?

Um, no. (Although, I’m not going to start lying now. I do love every single one of those things.)

I love this song because it says the words I long to hear. At first, I only recognized my desire to be seen as beautiful. I mean, really, what girl (30-something years old or not) doesn’t want to hear someone say this? “You’re turning heads when you walk through the door. Don’t need make-up to cover up. Being the way that you are is enough.”

Despite that ridiculous rhyme in the middle, those words are sweet. And sometimes a person just needs to hear that she’s beautiful!

But this song speaks to a deeper desire than just that. If I take the lyrics of this song to heart (I’m not saying I do, but maybe I do.), I begin to think, even if just for the moment that it’s airing on the radio, that I have something special to offer.

You’re insecure (don’t know what for!)
If only you saw what I can see!
Everyone else in the room can see it,everyone else but you.

How many times have I wished, so desperately, that someone would notice me? That someone would recognize my potential? That someone would look me in the eye and say, “Hey! I see you. I see you, Mary. I see you and I understand you and I think you are fabulous. God has given you amazing gifts, and I can’t wait to see how you’re going to use them. You are His wonderful creation, and I see it.”

I don’t think that desire ends with adolescence. I think that desire lives in many of our hearts our entire lives. And that’s why I’m not actually all that embarrassed to belt out this song as I cruise into the grocery store parking lot or preschool pick-up line.

Throughout my life I’ve been blessed to have a few people who have said those words to me. (Granted, they neither rhymed nor danced while saying them, but I’ll take what I can get.) Most recently, my friend Janet has sat across the table from me and shared the most kind, encouraging, I-believe-in-you words I’ve heard in years. That conversation – or, more accurately, those multiple conversations, because she has continued to feed my spirit with encouragement – changed my life. It really did. Those words healed so many hurts and eased frustrations and, I’m not kidding, changed my life.

I’m beyond grateful for that friendship and those conversations. That’s not to say my needy emotional tank will stay full and I’ll stop loving What Makes You Beautiful and boy bands. But it does mean that I’ve been thinking more lately about who I need to say those words to.

For the past few weeks, my church has shared a series of messages about just this. We’ve heard about how God speaks to us – or sends others to speak to us – to tell us, “I see something awesome in you.” Of course we all have unique gifts, talents, personalities and experiences inside for someone to notice, but this series has been a great reminder that a few things remain true for every single one of us. So I want to tell you something.

Hey. I see you. Yes, you, reading this post
and wondering why on earth someone would write hundreds of words about a boy band pop song.
I see you, and I think you are fabulous.
You are God’s wonderful creation. He made you, and He loves you.
He loves you so much He sent His son to die for your sins.
Yeah. That much.
And He made you for such a time as this, for the place and time you are living right now.
He made you for this, and you are going to shine. I just know it.
I see you, and you are beautiful.

 
If only you saw what I can see! Really, if only you saw what God can see. You may not know you’re beautiful, but I promise you are. Just read these words, these words that are so much more true and real and important than any pop song lyrics:

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.
(Psalm 139:13-16, MSG)

You were created by God. And just like when He created the first man and woman, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” (Genesis 1: 31) He knows you. He sees you. And He thinks you are wonderful.

Has anyone ever told you how beautiful (wonderful, talented, special, amazing) you are? Have you heard God, your very Creator, tell you those truths? Do you believe it?

Photo credits, clockwise from top left: dhennessy, brittanyg, bcmom, jvh33, mishism, bouzafr.


By: Mary, Giving Up on Perfect

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  1. 1

    That Psalm is so beautiful. And so is this post. I love the heart of it. And I love knowing how special I am to Him, even though I too often forget this truth.

  2. 4

    What beautiful words of affirmation and love. Thank you for your encouragement, your beauty and your sharing of your gift–of writing with us. It blesses. What a tender post, Mary and your heart shines through in every line. Bless you.

  3. 6

    …and now I’m crying in Panera. This might be one of my most favorite posts ever.

  4. 8

    I’m with Lisa-Jo, Mary. This is my favorite post of yours of all time!

    And not just because I wrote about One Direction, too (http://www.pensieve.me/2012/04/two-boys-and-a-mom-what-makes-you-beautiful-one-direction.html Yes, I love that song for ALL the reasons you listed, too!), but because of your profound simplicity; what we crave to hear and believe. Your encouragement is significant! Your affirmation, beautiful.

    Oh, Mary…you will strike a chord today. Of this, I have no doubts. Isn’t it cool how God can use a pop song to encourage his daughters? That is crazy/wonderful.

    xo

  5. 10

    I needed these words today. We have been struggling with infertility for 2 years, trying to have a second child. We were told this week at my age we are candidates for IVF, but that comes with a $15k price tag we’re not sure we will be able to manage.
    It’s difficult not to take it personal from God. Our first child is our main priority, always. People abuse children and yet have them freely. It feels like God is saying we’re not good enough. I cried as I read this post, needing to know that He still loves me. Thank you.

    • 11

      Oh, Donna. YES. Yes, He loves you. He does! He’s never stopped and He never will. I don’t know your particular heartache; no one does. But HE does, and He’s going to love you through it.

  6. 12

    Exactly what I needed to hear when I needed to hear it! And PS I LOVE that song the same way you do! I recently stated it is now my 2nd favorite song coming in after “Jessie’s Girl” Ha! But yes, for all those reasons-I actually pretend it’s totally about me :)

  7. 14

    Mary, I just love you! This made me cry. What wonderful words you’ve spoken to us. Did you know I mentioned 1D in one of my (in)spired deals posts this month? :)

  8. 16

    Gurl, please. It doesn’t matter how old or young you are. One can appreciate music and in fact, I believe that because you are “beyond the age group” according to the world, mind you, it makes it all that much better. I belt that song out too. It’s a lovely song! And I enjoy boy bands waay too much for my own good (especially Korean ones).

    I always seek to hear those words. Feeling significant is not my strong suit and everyone needs to hear they are loved, beautiful and created in wonder by God. This post is wonderful, and I feel the need to pass it on. I was having a chat with a friend of mine, then I read this post and it just seemed to fit.

    I said; “I set out every day hoping to make a small difference even if it’s to someone I don’t know. Smiling at someone, for example, cheers people like crazy! It’s like you are saying; “I see you! You are great in your own way, you have potential! Don’t give up.” That’s what I feed into my smiles, into my words. So even if I feel insignificant… that smile gets passed on. Smiling at someone helps them to smile at someone else, because maybe, just maybe, they realize that it has a power to help someone feel better if their day is rough.
    I mean, WHO knows where that smile is getting passed?
    From me, to the clerk, to a friend, to an over-seas husband, to an army soldier, to a stranger in a distant land, to that person’s friend! It could freaking go global!
    And someone wouldn’t even know it.”

    Thanks for this! It is very encouraging.

  9. 18

    To say I needed to read this today would be a hugh understatement. Thank you for
    obeying Him and posting this. Blessings.

  10. 20

    I just subscribed to this blog a couple of days ago. You have NO IDEA how much I needed to read this today! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and, as embarrassing as the premise may be, your need to hear that you’re beautiful. At 47, I still need to hear it – perhaps moreso now than 20 years ago. But your message hit me right where it needed to – in my heart – and reminded me that while I may LIKE to hear it from my husband or my sons, KNOWING it is true because God made me that way is what I need to remember. Thanks again – SO glad the Spirit moved me to subscribe! Have a blessed day!

    • 21

      Molly, I’m so glad His timing led you to read this post at the right time! And you are so right – KNOWING we are beautiful in God’s eyes is so much more valuable than anything another person could tell us.

  11. 22
    Val Hodges says:

    I needed this.
    I needed this today.
    Thank you.

  12. 23
    Pamela Dempsey says:

    Oh, Mary. Needed Psalm 139 today. xoxo Thank you.

  13. 25
    Dorothy says:

    The Word of God says that I am created, chosen, celebrated and cherished by my Father!!! Now that’s something to smile about!

  14. 27

    I could have written this post. I’ve had the exact same thoughts about this song – from embarrassment of liking it to wishing someone would sing it to me. I know that God loves me, that I’m wonderfully made and beautiful in His eyes. I never doubt that. Where I struggle is letting this be enough. I worry too much about the world’s definition of beauty and I feel like I’m not enough in others’ eyes. I daily work on relying on the fact that I am more than enough in the eyes of the only one that really matters.

  15. 29
    Stephanie says:

    This brought tears to my eyes. The past few days I have been feeling decidedly ugly – overweight, undisciplined, you name it.

    And this morning I’ve been planning to start yet another diet. Beating myself up for not exercising my often than I do, etc. And while I know that health is important, I know that being skinny will not solve all my problems. I know that obsessing over how many calories I burn at the gym won’t make me a better person.

    Thank you for reminding me that I am loved and special -just the way I am. He made my body and He will show me how to take care of it.

    • 30

      Stephanie, you ARE, absolutely, loved and special! I’m so thankful God brought you here today. I struggle with those feelings you described, too, and have to force myself to listen to His truth. He loves us, and He knows we are beautiful.

  16. 31

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! You don’t know how those words have blessed me today. Thank you so much for opening up and stepping out to be used by God. Thank you.

  17. 33

    Here is a beautiful video/short film of Psalm 139

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FI6bhvs9c-I

    I love your posts very much. I feel the same way about fairytales. They speak to me the truth of Christ. Of darkness defeated. A real promise of happyily ever after. God is good.

  18. 35

    *awesome* post, Mary! Your words hugged an aching heart today. Thank you for allowing God to work through you!!!

  19. 37

    I love this post!!! Girl, you speak to my pop-boyband-ever-loving heart! And Psalm 139 is my favorite, handsdown. Thanks for this bright spot in my day!

  20. 39

    True confessions – You are not alone, I love this song too! And your words are timely for me, and closely wrapped up in why I love that song! Thank you!

  21. 41

    Girl, You’re not the only “Directioner” =) LOVE this song and I think it’s because of exactly what you wrote. My son also likes it, and I think today I’m going to go home and tell his little 9 year old self that telling his future wife those very words is so very important (ok, maybe not today… but I’m going to do that, eventually…) Thanks so much!

  22. 43

    You know, I wish I had you around when I was growing up hearing I was dumb and ugly! It haunted me for so many years but then the Lord did a real work of healing -One of the most important things He used was Psalm 139! I would cry at the verse that says “I am fearfully and wonderfully made, AND MY SOUL KNOWS IT VERY WELL!” because my soul did not know it very well. But that only showed me that I was suppose to know it. I would keep repeating this verse to myself every time I played the old tapes back until this became my new tape and I could actually and genuinely give thanks to the One who made me so very well!! We are not meant to run on any other fuel but thanks for how wonderfully we are created – each and every one of us – a unique expression of His own beauty!! And I just have to say AMEN!

    • 44

      Maria, I am so sorry to hear about those words, hurting your heart when you were growing up. But I’m so thankful to hear about your healing and belief in His love and truth now! I love how you put it – THIS is the fuel we are meant to run on. So true.

  23. 45

    Ok–I will confess to loving that song too:). This is such a great post. I love encouraging people and you show just how important it is. To answer your question about believing if people try to encourage me, I tend not to believe them. I also like what you said about your tank not staying full. I need to CONTINUE to encourage others, not just one time. Thank you for this post and be blesse:)

  24. 47

    I didn’t know how much I needed this today, but God did. Believing you have gifts and finding a place to use them is hard. You’ve inspired me to keep trying and to encourage others on the same journey. Thank you!

  25. 49
    Beth Williams says:

    Needed to hear this today. Been in a blue funky mood all week long about work stuff. Feeling “Stupid, dumb, useless”. Need all the encouragement I can get.

    Don’t feel bad about belting songs out. I do it all the time–I even dance to some songs. Love music & the expressiveness of it all!

    Great great post~!

  26. 51

    Ahh friend, I hear our Creator’s words through you, darling, and you make me believe them.

    Also? I believe in you, Mary. And I love you more than sunshine and birthday cake and feel good love songs all put together.

    I’m so going to you tube that video right now… :)

  27. 53
    Brooke Burger says:

    Sounds like such a great song. It also sounds just like my husband of 25+ years. He says things like that to me everyday, multiple times a day. Oh, what it has meant to me to have someone saying such things to me. I grew up really not thinking I was pretty or worthy. I really to heart in college just who I am in Christ. My husband has also been a wonder example to our sons, their friends, and the men in his office. I love him so!!!!!

  28. 55
    Kirstin says:

    I love that song as well and thank you for writing this….I needed to be reminded of God’s love for each & every one of us. That Psalm is beautiful!

  29. 56

    Beauty inside = beauty outside. It’s just that simple. I’m sure we all know someone who isn’t particularly beautiful on the outside, but their inward beauty just lights up the universe. I’ve always loved Christian music. I sang around the house everyday and even raised my kids singing to them instead of talking in conversations like normal people do. But I’m not a “singer,” just an ordinary person with an ordinary voice. Always yearned for a real voice. I know exactly what my gifts from God are and they bring me enormous joy when I can use them. However, I still longed to be able to sing with a lovely voice. One day, while working in my kitchen (and singing, of course) I said to God that I wished I could sing. After a few minutes I heard someone call to me, “Sherry.” I turned around to answer that person and said aloud, “What?” When I saw no one there I remembered that I was alone in the house and didn’t expect my family home for a while. At that moment I heard these words: ” Your singing is just as beautiful to me.” Immediately I knew Who said those words to me and I also knew what those words meant. God was saying to me that He made me, that He created us to worship Him, and that every voice lifted to Him was precious and beautiful. It changed me. Forever. Because I “got it.” I understood perfectly. And that was about 28 years ago. Yes, you can still catch me going around the house singing, but it brings me just as much joy as my God-given gifts. We all desire to beautiful in one way or another. The thing is this: WE ARE! We’re beautiful in every way to the One who created us!

  30. 58
    Melissa says:

    Thank you for these truths! I really needed to read them today. It is awful living in the negative thoughts about yourself, but the awesome thing is God will share truths with you to grab your hand to pull you out of those thoughts. Thank you for sharing your love of a silly song to bring truth to my life!

  31. 60

    I’ve quit singing and dancing around to the song long enough to say you have been God’s voice and “What Makes You Beautiful” God’s music– its own psalm– to my soul and rock n roll spirit! At 61 and single again (for decades), I still pray that God will send That Person who will say these words for the second half of our lives and to whom I can say them.l Until then, my ears will quicken to these words as God’s words in other voices and I will even more hasten to be God’s voice to others ( as my spirit and profession as teacher has allowed me to do, more importantly, than “content matter”). Thank you: I will floor and car dance on!

  32. 62

    And the other time you need to be seen as having something to offer is when you’re past 50 and suddenly it’s like you’ve got an invisible use-by date on your forehead, and it must have expired. Even if you visit a church, people are more likely to invite you to join the Golden Oldies Club, instead of finding out what is your vision, passion or spiritual gifts. As if all you need is entertaining! By implication it says that’s all that’s left in life for you. Well, I have news. I am 61, and I don’t want to sit around drinking coffee, or filling in my time going on bus trips (not that it doesn’t have its place) -but mainly I want to make a difference. I want to change the world!

  33. 64

    well mary, you had me at your moniker. (i couldn’t stand to not have a name to go with the story, so i scrolled down to find out who was drawing me in before diving in. and ah, the sweet, sweet joy of finding another soul that’s revelling in the imperfect!)

    thank you for this encouraging post. and thank you for the gift of your transparency — what a beautiful treasure you just offered the world here.

    blessings to you, sweet soul,
    tanya

  34. 66
    Lysa Kong says:

    I was greatly encouraged! I too, love that song, thanks to my adorable nephew Lincoln!

    God bless you!

  35. 68

    Thank you. Thank you. My husband has been gone for a few weeks and I have felt SOO alone…..but aside from that I’ve felt for a long time unappreciated. Your words truly spoke to me and I’m thankful I’m not alone when it comes to desiring to be noticed and that it is okay!!!! Thank you!!!

    • 69

      You are definitely not alone, Hope. I believe God placed in us a desire to be adored – and the only way we can truly fill that hole is by accepting His love. I pray He comforts you while your husband is away and sends reminders that you ARE beautiful!

  36. 70

    I’m definitely waaaay past this bands age range, but it has resonated with me as well. These were words I longed to hear all my life. I have finally found someone who says the sweetest things that speak to the deepest places of my soul. It’s all so unfamiliar to me and it’s so hard to receive. I’m trying day by day to accept the words of love and affirmation he pours over me.

  37. 72
    Marinalva Sickler says:

    On February 10, I was still opening my eyes, when my husband with a majestic smile said to me, “I’m the happiest man of the world!” I asked him why. He responded, “I awake up every day with a pretty woman.” I hugged him and kissed him. During the day, I tried to pest him for getting up and go outside with me. Unsuccessfully. He got up for dinner, a great one, with his kind of roasted beef in juicy veggies. Garnishing all, I prepared his favorite sourdough bread with cream cheese. That was his dish combination when he was able to cook for me. By 1:30 am. in my hands he smiled and could not say “sweetheart.” He sighed his last breath. I have his morning “pretty woman,” the last I heard from his heart pumps to say to me good-bye. He’s in the journey with God now away from me.

  38. 74

    Thank you, Mary. So beautiful. And I went to listen to that song *one more time* (my kids love that song).

  39. 76

    My little grand girls have that song on a Kid’s Rock album and we all know the words to it and like you, I love it. These little ones, ages 10, 8 and 3 have inherited the genes to make them very big for their ages. Mom and Dad are tall so the girls could never be anything else. They really do have the facial structure to be beauties as their mom is, they are just big and society doesn’t celebrate that. I just love what that song is telling them in a louder voice than the kids at school who tell them they are not beautiful. We sing it every day and hear the CD most days and their little faces light up with smiles every single time. Everyone should hear that and I know it so well because my dad always called me Shep, our dogs name, because I looked like a dog. I’m old now but when I look at pics of me when I was young I’m shocked every time to see that I really was beautiful. I heard it from two husbands but I never believed it until age had done it’s thing and I’m really not anymore. One voice can make such a difference and these precious little one will hear it as long as the song can be sung. Even if the CD is long gone I’ll be singing it to them and so will their parents who understand why they should just as much as I do. I know that everyone reading your sweet words today knows someone they should sing it to. Buy the CD with that one song only and pass them out to women and men, girls and boys who may only hear it from you. Thanks for your sweet message. God bless you and those who think you are beautiful. Count me in that catagory.

    • 77

      Gayla, I cannot even fathom the pain you felt with a nickname that horrid. I’m so sorry. But I’m also encouraged to hear how you are making sure your granddaughters know that they are beautiful and loving them out loud like that.

  40. 78

    That’s why I love that song too – it touches that part of me that wants to be noticed and valued and told I’m pretty. :-) Music doesn’t have to be “Christian” to be lifegiving! It’s nice to hear a popular song that is uplifting instead of about broken hearts and failed romances.

  41. 80

    I wish I’d sung that song, or one like it, to my kids when they were little. I wish someone would have sung it to me then too. They didn’t, but it’s never too late. I needed to hear it tonight. Thank you.

  42. 82

    I love this song too…I wish every little girl (and every woman’s 10 year old self) could hear these words and know them to be true. I was very blessed to have an earthly father who taught me that I was beautiful and capable of anything, and who showed me just how much my Heavenly Father loves me. I am now blessed to have a husband who prefers me without makeup, and reminds me that even when I’m don’t feel lovely – he sees me no other way. He too, reflects God’s love to me always. Such a gift!

    If you want to enjoy your favourite song in a whole new way – check out the cast of Anything Goes video on youtube. The filmed it during between shows on a Saturday – so full make up and costume appears! This was my introduction to the song, and truly – it’s my favourite way to hear it! (although it’s still One Direction singing).

  43. 83

    hi mary,luv ur post nd dis site,i just happened 2 stumble across it nd i LUV every bit of dis site.i wud luv 2 subscribe bt dnt know how,i wud lyk 2 c u bt im faraway in NIGERIA-West Africa.luv ya

  44. 84

    hi mary,luv ur post nd dis site,i just happened 2 stumble across it nd i LUV every bit of dis site.i wud luv 2 subscribe bt dnt know how,i wud lyk 2 c u bt im faraway in NIGERIA-West Africa.

  45. 85

    It’s funny that I just came across this. (God’s timing can be impeccable!) I have been learning to accept myself just as God created me; without makeup, without straightened hair, etc. It may not seem like such a big deal to some, but I went out yesterday without a care in the world about the way I looked. I have been focusing more on God’s call for my life rather than the way I look, and it feels amazing. He will truly make you feel beautiful and speak those words if you just listen. It is my hope that you, and others will truly hear God singing those love songs to you.

  46. 86

    I have been on this healing journey for a long time.
    Today when I want to run from feeling anymore pain and difficult emotions I am puttering around blogs sites and I come here
    And this was so helpful and encouraging.
    Thank-you
    God’s timing is perfect!

  47. 87
    Stephanie O. says:

    I just heard that boy band perform that song during the Olympics, and I was quite impressed!! You’re not alone there! I’m 40 years old and I like the song too…and want to make sure my daughters hear it

  48. 88
    Georgia says:

    Hi, Mary, I just found you yesterday (Thursday). I was looking for a recipe. After what you said and reading all the comments, I’m not sure what I can add. I have never done this before. I grew up believing there was NOTHING beautiful about me. I was told but only because they wanted something. I have believed in God since I was a really little girl but I’m not sure how. In my adult life, things haven’t been a whole lot better. The two exceptions, first is my son. I also had my younger sister (we were only 11 months apart) and she loved me unconditionally. But she died suddenly about nine years ago. Even today, it is difficult to even talk about her without crying. GOOD NEWS! Just recently, I found a small church and the members have opened their arms to me and treat me like family. It is changing my life. I have been reading and praying trying to soak up as much as I can as fast as I can. I have no doubt the Lord guided me to you. In what you have written, you have blessed me today. The old saying, “the Lord works in mysterious ways”. Thank you SOOOOO much. Now, I have a safe haven to go to. I thank the Lord for sending me your way

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  1. [...] I was having a chat with a friend (I did most of the talking as per usual – I’m a conversation stealer) and while I was talking, I began to read a post from (in)courage about “If only you saw what I can see”. [...]

  2. [...] To read the rest of this post, please visit me over at (in)courage. [...]

  3. [...] {You can read the whole post here: If Only You Saw What I Can See.} [...]