So, I’ve been feeling a different kind of beautiful. Not the kind that comes with a new outfit or fancy shoes but the kind of beauty that comes with the morning sunshine, slowly lighting the sky with its brilliance until the sun sleeps again. Not that I’m the sun in this analogy but that’s the best way I can convey the slow climb to where I am.
The truth is, I’m a tomboy. An awkward, no make up wearing, just-got-rid-of-the-few-pair-of-high-heels-I-did-own kind of girl. That’s not to say anything is wrong with those things, it just isn’t for me. Beyond that, however, I’ve found I feel the most beautiful on the most ordinary of days, at the strangest times.
Let’s start with the summer, which was quite hot this year. So hot, in fact, a few times I found my motorcycle sinking into the tarmac. Much like our lives without Jesus, we’re slowly sinking, hardly noticing the decent until we begin to buckle under the pressure and burn amid the heat.
However, that was my summer: outdoors, riding a motorcycle in 90 degree heat and walking dogs. One day, in particular, I walked one of my pups through the neighborhood like I always do, but something felt different that day. At first I couldn’t figure out what it was but then I realized, it was my walk. Not the route I took but the way I walked. I didn’t just stroll down the sidewalk like a normal person, I sauntered. Wearing my tattered jeans, oversized t-shirt and bandana, I strutted down the street, a hum in my throat, a wan smile at my lips as if I’d suddenly seen a photographer and wanted to show my best angle. I had my own soundtrack and everything! I didn’t even know why I walked so differently. I hadn’t done anything special that morning and I didn’t look like much, clunking around in heavy riding boots. I’m sure I didn’t smell all that great either, I was sweaty and smelled like dogs and exhaust, yet, I felt pretty…sexy, even. No one was around but the puppy and she couldn’t care less. I laughed at myself because I couldn’t understand the confidence but it was there oozing from the inside, out of my pores and out into the world. My beauty felt different, shone differently, was different.
My heart is confident, God, my heart is confident. I will sing; I will sing praises. Psalms 57:7 HCSB
The next day was more of the same: Same tattered jeans (don’t judge me) different oversized t-shirt, boots, bandana…saunter and smile. This time, however, I had an audience. A landscaper at the house next door locked eyes with me for moment as I walked past him. The “moment” was a little longer than a moment because he could’t seem to get back to his duties. I smiled and waved, because I didn’t know what else to do, and he waved back but still could not stop staring. What was it? What engaged him so? It could not have been my top notch wardrobe or perfectly coifed hair because neither existed. I could’t even remember if I’d put on deodorant, let alone anything “extra.” It had to be something else. Something different.
I think that’s the kind of beauty God is hoping we’ll find for ourselves. The kind of beauty that comes from somewhere other than a jar, a bag, a store or someone else’s mouth. Not the kind of beauty that falls from the lips of strangers, deeming us worthy of recognition but a spring of fresh sustenance that revives us whether anyone acknowledges us or not.
You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way. Songs of Solomon 4:7 NLT
Let’s be a different kind of beautiful. The kind of beautiful that makes people wonder where you got my joy from, not where you bought your clothing. The kind of beautiful that beckons to be cherished, not conquered. The kind of beautiful that makes someone want to know what’s under the layers you show to the world, not the layers that cover your body. The kind of beautiful that demands respect (without saying a word), not taking whatever you’re given just because someone is handing it out. What if we strived for this type of beauty together? Me and you. Instead of losing a few pounds to fill a pair of jeans, let’s dump some baggage so we can better fill a heart. In lieu of having a dress tailor made for our specific figure, how about we let Jesus tailor our hearts for a specific mission. How great would it be to have the kind of “fresh face” that didn’t highlight how well we applied our make-up but how much Jesus is lighting our eyes? Let’s do that! Let’s make our beauty shine into hearts, light souls and open a pathway for Jesus to pour into them. Even if it’s just a sliver of space, Jesus can fit…we just have to make the opportunity.
Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be a light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hid you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand–shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16 MSG
Now, I don’t have the most flattering figure, the whitest teeth, or the best…okay, maybe I do have the best hair, but my physical image isn’t that of (worldly) “perfection.” I’m not the girl who will make someone do a double take when they walk by, nor will I ever likely grace a magazine cover boasting “50 Most Beautiful People” and that’s okay. It’s more than okay because I don’t need that type of scrutiny, even if it is deemed positive. My beauty is unlike anything I’ve ever known and that shows. It shows up in my face, my smile, my attitude, my walk, my figure, my words. It’s the type of beauty that allows me see to the beauty in others.
As a kid, I was awkward, and if I’m being honest, I’m still awkward. I wasn’t the pretty or popular one and it was the longest time before I had any true esteem of self. Despite that, I’ve never felt more beautiful than I do now that I’m in love with Christ…another thing I’d never experienced before. When I look the least appealing, I feel the most beautiful. Strange, isn’t it? I guess my definition of beautiful has been altered. Having Jesus take me from a path leading to death has made irrevocable change. My thoughts and actions would have most certainly landed me in the grave, even if I lived a while in perceived happiness doing whatever I wanted. I feel more like his creation now than ever, and I find myself appreciating much more of what he’s created because of it. He’s given me a new life…literally. It’s nothing I would have ever dreamed for myself. To some it looks grim and lackluster, deficient, even. The amazing thing is: It’s the polar opposite. It’s a beautiful life, an unforeseen life, a life I didn’t plan and one that I would never have put together. I’ve got friends I would have never chosen, love like I can’t imagine, help that I hadn’t asked (but received), talent I didn’t know resided anywhere within me and the list goes on. The fact that my life isn’t any of what I thought it would be makes it even more gorgeous! I’m more than happy to let God steer this ship because if I were at the helm, I’d surely crash and sink. With God, I’m a different kind of beautiful…and so are you:)
The Transformed Beauty