Spring is lingering and taking the long way home this year. Everywhere I look, flowers show off their beauty without even trying — bougainvillea vines, poppies, daisies, lilies. Even the hills on the sides of the freeways sing their yellow hues wholeheartedly. Every street is lined with trees crowned with blossoms — branches of pinks, whites, and purples swaying in the wind, their loose flower petals dancing to the ground and littering the streets like confetti. Jasmine bushes took the place of orange tree blossoms pouring their perfume into the air, and spring has awakened every sense, inviting me to be present, to linger with it.
There’s one tree in particular that has been catching my eye. It sits on the sidewalk of an unimportant street on the drive I take to the kids’ schools. It’s one of many of its kind, and if you don’t look closely, it looks like all the others.
But this one stands out to me because of its trunk. There are blossoms adorning it starting at the very bottom of the trunk and then encircling it all the way to the branches that are full of them. Each one seems to have been perfectly placed, as if tucked into the knotted bark by an artist’s hand.
In its own modest yet spectacular way, it sings praise to its Creator, and seeing it makes me worship Him too.
Everything on earth will worship you;
they will sing your praises,
shouting your name in glorious songs.
Psalm 66:4 (NLT)
Everytime I pass by it, I feel the tug of God’s presence, His voice telling me that I am like the tree — that I have been created by Him, that each part of me has been perfectly placed as well, that my being sings praise to my Creator by simply being because all of me has been fearfully and wonderfully made.
For so much of my life, I didn’t believe it was so. Of course, I believed each person was fearfully and wonderfully made, but I used to only believe it in a generic sense. Psalm 139:14 was more like a broad brush that painted dignity and awe over each human being, but I didn’t think of it like a fine-tip pen that intentionally marks the details of a person. I didn’t think to consider that it might apply to me in the shape of my eyes, in the rounded curves of my face.
For so much of my life, I wished — whether consciously or subconsciously — to not look so . . . Asian. I wanted to look more Western, to look more white. I wished for the deeply set eyes, the double eyelids, the more prominent yet thinner nose. I wanted the strawberry-shaped jawline and not my rounded cheeks and square chin.
I remember reading Amy Carmichael’s story about how as a child, she would pray that God would change her brown eyes to blue and feeling the same longing to look different than I did when I moved back to the States in high school.
I had been a missionary’s kid who had lived overseas for most of my formative years, coming back when I was sixteen with no idea how much I wouldn’t fit in. I wrestled between wanting to be seen and yet stay invisible. I wanted, like Amy Carmichael, to meet the beauty standards that were considered the norm, not understanding or believing that the standards were skewed to only consider a certain shape of eyes or nose or face or body to be desirable.
There are still days when I’m surprised at the face that looks back at me. When I’m often the token Asian at work, at conferences, at most things outside of church, when I spend hours after hours with people who don’t look like me, I catch my reflection as I pass by a window or mirror and wonder,
Why is my face so round and flat? Why are my eyes so small? Why do I look so . . . foreign??
Even though I was born here. Even though I’ve spent the majority of my life here. Even though I know I am both Korean and American through and through. Even though I know all these things about myself, and yet, my mind cracks between what I look like and what I think I should look like.
But all those features of mine are the result of God’s creative handiwork to make me who I am — similar to the many who are around me but unique in my details.
My almond-shaped eyes have been fearfully and wonderfully made.
My round face has been fearfully and wonderfully made.
My nose, as it is, has been fearfully and wonderfully made.
My skin has been fearfully and wonderfully made.
My gender has been fearfully and wonderfully made.
My ethnicity has been fearfully and wonderfully made.
My body and mind and heart that hold two cultures, that understand more than one language, that are just beginning to embrace my Koreanness more wholly are fearfully and wonderfully made.
I park in the nearby 7-eleven parking lot and walk over to the tree that has captivated me this spring, and as I take a closer look and notice its cracked bark, the chip bag that’s been left near its feet, the blossoms that are beginning to wilt, I see beauty still. I see His wonder. And I sing His praises along with it.
My being sings praise to my Creator by simply being because all of me has been fearfully and wonderfully made. -@gracepcho: Click To Tweet