“Mommy” Mikayla said in her scratchy voice looking up at me with those Shirly Temple curls and beautiful sparkly eyes “You are pretty”. She wrapped her tiny arms around my waist as though she had just seen the queen. She said this as I was getting ready for church but the thing is….I didn’t really feel pretty..and to be quite honest I don’t feel that way most days anymore unless I have taken the time to “fix”myself. I hadn’t yet put on my mascara or smoothed out my “finger in a light socket” morning hair with my magical anti frizz serum, nor did I have heels on or any other bells and whistles for that matter. It seems the older I get the more I feel like I need to cover up, buff, slather, balm, spackle etc. in order to feel…pretty….Or maybe a more suitable word would be to feel “valuable” or “relevant”. Standing in my oversized t-shirt about to apply some blush is when she spoke those encouraging words to me.
Now I’m old enough and wise enough to know that external beauty isn’t REALLY what is important. I know that my exterior appearance isn’t what gives me worth but I am still human and to be honest I think that desire to feel beautiful is something innate that God himself placed within us…the God of the universe is infinitly beautiful, magnificently creative..I mean look at a painted sunset…stand in awe of a billowing wave as it rolls in…gaze upon a newborn child…His beauty is everywhere…it takes your breath away and yet gives it to you all at the same time. Beauty is in the mind of God and we, made in His beautiful image cant help but long to know, touch, taste and feel beauty..it’s the reason you don’t have to teach your 2 year old daughter to twirl in a tutu and ask if you think she is beautiful…she innately longs to be…we are wired for it. Sure it has been twisted by society, culture, fashion and our own messed up idea of what beautiful is…our distorted idea of beauty is the one that says only the young or thin or rich or unflawed are beautiful. But intrinsic beauty that flows outward is the kind of beautiful that God intended…the innate knowing that I am royalty….worth far more than rubies because my Heavenly Father calls me beloved…because he calls me His…because I AM in fact His..
But just like every other woman with breath in her lungs I too have been seduced by the lie that I don’t measure up to “the standard”. In my late 30s now I am more aware than ever that my outward appearance is changing…I see lines I never use to and have become aware that I am no longer 20 and that somehow my not so perfect skin is not going to ever look like “that” anymore. If I am really honest there is a part of me that hates this…not just because I don’t like the changes or the effortless look of youth that isn’t as present as it was at 20 but I think the part of me that hates it the most is that I actually waste my thoughts on it and know its futile…it’s not life giving to expend energy focusing on my looks nor is it something that I want to inadvertently pass along to my impressionable daughters.
You see I look at them and I am in awe of their beauty..I stare at my girls and am bewildered by Gods creation….his creativity. Each one of them is so profoundly different and so magnificently crafted. But it isn’t really the outward beauty…I mean don’t get me wrong my daughters are beautiful to the eye and that is a bonus, but my heart is enraptured and captivated by the beauty of who…and whose they are…they are mine. They are mine. Because they are mine they are beautiful. Because I know them…they are beautiful. They are each uniquely beautiful outwardly…Mikayla with her curly locks and bright eyes…Maiah with her brown doe eyes and loose curls and Milena with those big juicy lips and smile as big as an ocean…yeah they are beautiful but its the knowing of them that my heart sees and leaps and is moved by their total and complete beauty. Mikaylas spunk and determination…her squeal at everything from me holding her to saying yes to playing Barbies. Maiahs quiet reflective presence, her depth already showing at only 6…her pensive nature that comes out when she is intently working on her artwork…and Milena…that scrunchy butterball…that waddling little firecracker full of smiles and hugs and her own language…it’s all of these things that really makes them so very beautiful.
As I ponder these things I can’t help but be reminded of how God sees you and me…as beautiful because we are in fact His…and the part that bewilders me further is that He sees ALL that is underneath and still calls us lovely. God sees underneath my makeup…He sees how far I have come and how far I have to go and yet He still calls me lovely. He saw my first breath and knows when I will take my last…he sees the In between…he sees the potential..the weakness..He doesn’t study the lines upon my face but traces the growth of my heart from some of the hard things that have no doubt created some of those…life lines. He sees underneath is a heart that genuinely longs to be beautiful for His glory…..in spite of my many imperfections…
I think that is why Mikaylas comment stuck so hard on me…because she wasn’t waiting for me to achieve perfection nor was she noticing my imperfections…she wasn’t inspecting me…she wasn’t judging me…she was merely stating what she sees…not perfection but to her mommy is pretty because she knows me, she loves me and she truly sees me as me ….not just the made up me. She saw something I sometimes can’t…she saw what was underneath the makeup and to her that was pretty. Maybe someone out there needs to be released from the burden of feeling as though the expectation of what is outward somehow really matters….it doesnt…God sees our hearts…that is what is truly beautiful.
For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7