10 Mar 2014

How to weed out the lie that you are not beautiful

My arm has long since fallen asleep and I’m amazed again by how heavy a nearly three-year-old can feel.

I lie pressed up against her in the bed and watch her chest rise and fall. She smells wonderful. I like to press my lips against her tiny palm, her chest and feel the space where her small soul is wrapped up in the wonder of her skin.

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In the quiet of the bedroom where all I can hear is the hum of the humidifier and the soft snuffling of Zoe’s croupy breath, my mind wanders to all the ways I want her to feel beautiful. And I remember all the ways I did not when I was a young girl.

How is it that false or foolish things that people speak over us when we’re fifteen can hold more weight than the truth that people who love us speak when we’re adults. Why do I accept as cold, hard, reality the sentences that slipped careless from a hairdresser all those years ago and never pause to examine if they contain any truth, just swallow them hook, line and sinker?

I have thin, straggly hair. My ears stick out.

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These are assessments I have owned as mine since I was a teenager and only because a too-hip-for-his-age hairdresser once whispered them to my mom. As if they were a shameful secret. As if I should apologize for ears that got in the way of his scissors.

I remember how my cheeks burned. How for years afterward I felt embarrassed anytime a hairdresser came to trimming in the vicinity. How I imagined they must be appalled by my big and sticky-out-ears.

These thoughts smack me in the head as I’m lying trapped under my sick daughter and for the first time in the twenty years since those words were spoken to me I drag them out into the light of day. I flip them over in my hands – thin hair, ears that stick out – and I realize two things.

First, neither of those statements is a reflection on me as a person – they don’t describe my temperament, my faith, my qualities as a friend or mother.

And second – neither is particularly true, since I have long ago grown into my ears and watched my hair thicken over the course of each of my three pregnancies.

Why then have these two statements come along for the ride all these years – like unwelcome hitch hikers, directing my thoughts about myself?

I watch Zoe’s eyelashes flutter on that porcelain white skin that is so warm to my lips and I’m astonished to discover how a hairdresser I only met once or twice has basically been back-seat-driving my definition of beautiful for years.

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Me with the too thin hair and the too stuck out ears could not have been beautiful. I knew this from the tone of his voice and the set of his lip when he made his observed aside to my mom. And these words grew and grew until they had long, strong arms and legs that held me straight jacket tight anytime I thought about my hair.

Lying next to my long-limbed girl girl who is still unmarred by the opinions of others I finally wriggle free from the lie of my childhood. I find I can move in all the ways that matter. Not, perhaps, the arm still happily trapped beneath her body, but the heart that had felt quietly embarrassed by it’s physical appearance for so long.

The more I think about Zoe and the beauty I want her to grow into the more I realize I will need to own my own first. I will need to weed out the lies that have snuck, sometimes unnoticed, into my self image so that I am ready to do battle against any that come against her.

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I must be beautiful in thought before I am beautiful anywhere else.

I will be a passionate beauty hunter – quick to recognize it in myself and translate it for Zoe. Beauty in attitude, beauty in excitement, beauty in laughter, beauty in service, beauty in grace, beauty in community.

And yes, beauty in ears with character and hair that’s inherited from a family of women – all powerful heart beauties.

I will root out the lies and plant fresh bulbs of beauty – for Zoe and me both.

We aren’t usually comfortable shining the spotlight in our own direction. But for those of us raising daughters, for those of us doing battle with word wounds, for those of us who want to grow into the beauty that God has long since spoken over us – let’s go on a beauty hunt together.

Write down beauty everywhere you find it in yourself – laundry folded in love, beds made, dinners cooked, lattes picked up for the husband at Starbucks. The red high heels, the swimsuit that shows off the wonder that your body has delivered, the family legacy of freckles. Even the tired eyes from being up all night with sick kids.

Write it down – write down the only definition of beauty that matters:

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14.

Let’s go on a beauty hunt together and in so doing, slay the lies of our childhoods.

In the comments today, complete this sentence: I went on a beauty hunt and found…

 

Comments

{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 1

    I went on a beauty hunt and I have found that once I have adjusted to my aging face, skin and body; my coarser hair is actually wonderful because I do not have to wash it every day…thus keeping my faux red color longer, which delights me daily. As I age I am peaceful, at times, about my wonderful life, and the new season I am in. I was a know it all 20 something two decades ago, and I wore the short & tight and I lived a wilder life…now I am shaping two lives and sharing my life with a man who loves me well. I am learning to say kind things to myself. And I am sharing your PERFECT post with everyone I know. Thank you….LOVELY!

  2. 2

    I was just sharing with my son the experience I had as a young woman getting fitted for a dress for my sister’s wedding. I guess (?) the seamstress was trying to give me a compliment when she asked if I was a swimmer…I felt it an odd question and told her that no, I wasn’t. “Oh, I would have thought you were with such broad shoulders…” Whammo. I’ve carried it with me for many years, feeling the shame of shoulders that were actually not that broad, but it didn’t matter. Other stories of this kind about other features of mine are in that “suitcase of ugly” that I carry. I really need to check that bag for good.

  3. 3

    I went on a beauty hunt and realized that being 6 foot 3 is amazing- and so is being slighter bigger is okay! I went on to speak scriptures over my life and block out those long distant words from bullies in the back of my head and move on. Now onto my girls who I am raising up to believe they are beautiful!

  4. 4

    Beautifully written.

  5. 5

    … my “baby” wearing braces, an autistic man giving his testimony from our pulpit Sunday, first robins in the yard, a box of shiny books with our names sharing the cover, the pink edge of dawn.

    (LOVE that superhero photo of you. Is that new?)

  6. 6

    I went on a beauty hunt and found that I actually was a pretty teenager. I had long believed the lie I overheard from an adolescent boyfriend that his perfect girlfriend would have had my chest and another classmate’s face. But when I look back at those pictures now, I see a completely average sized teen-aged girl with clear skin and bright eyes and a joy of living, with lots of friends, and much unrealized potential! In learning to embrace the self that I thought was lacking, I’m learning to embrace the self I have become.

  7. 7

    I went on a beauty hunt and found a face that may still have acne as an adult, but it no longer defines me as the “pizza face” I once was called. This face has laughed at little ones that I bore in amusement, it has cried over the loss of those I never knew I could live without, it has spoke words in anger it wishes it could take back and it has tried harder than ever recently to speak the Truth in love.
    Thank you, Lisa-Jo, for the opportunity to find beauty in this face I’ve often hated but God made just the way He wanted. Bless you, sweet friend!

    • 8

      I too went on a beauty hunt and found joy in a less-than-perfect complexion, Meredith. Dealing with acne as an adult or a teenager isn’t easy, but in the end, I truly believe that not looking perfect in the eyes of the world has reminded me to keep my focus on the way I look in the eyes of God.

  8. 10

    I went on a beauty hunt and found “ginger” – Where I used to see orange hair, spots (freckles), and too-pale skin. The kind of pale that’s so white it’s almost clear. Seriously. Then I realized these three things I hated in my youth are now things that most of my adult friends say they envy (and what the hubs noticed first). Playmates teased with fears of catching “gingervitis” – their made-up disease – and convinced me something is wrong and unlovely. My light colored, non-existent eyebrows mean less plucking, my husband says freckles are sexy, and high SPF has paid off in more ways than one. I look 10 years younger than most of my former classmates because I couldn’t tan. Skin cancer is way scarier than pale ever was, and people now pay big $ to have red hair (because redheads are a rare breed, just like my grandpa told me). Why didn’t I believe him? I’m not as hesitant to have my legs (like neon signs) sticking out of summer skirts because (just like scared is the new brave) pale is the new tan.

  9. 11

    I went on a beauty hunt today and found. . . a maturing soul who has always been a self-conscious introvert, and though I have never been enthralled with the outward appearance of this package, I am beginning to accept the beauty that the inside contributes.; to accept the creative gift given to me by my Creator. . .and in so doing, chasing the fear of rejection away in trust of His plan and His continued work in me. . .

  10. 12

    I went on a beauty hunt and found that a body that I have always exercised in tough pursuit of thin and toned is actually enjoyed by my husband for its softness and curves. Thank you for this reminder today to look for beauty in ourselves, to cheer on in ourselves what we would of course cheer on in others. Why am I always so critical of myself, so slow to give grace and encouragement where it is needed? Thank you for the reminder to do so!

    • 13

      WOW, Erica, I just shared these (very similar) words with my husband within the last week. I don’t know why it is so hard for me to accept that he (or anyone) could love me unconditionally no matter the exterior package. I am settling into the idea that the contents of my package completely alter the view of the exterior. He loves me for the me on the inside which makes the outside beautiful.

  11. 14

    I went a beauty hunt and found my hands are the hands of my grandmother. She lived far away, but when she would fly in for her yearly Christmas visit I would sit in the backseat of the car and hold her cool smooth hand all the way from the airport. My hands have become cool and smooth and spotted with age. I hope one day my hands will be a pleasant memory for my grandchildren yet to come. Thank you so much for this prompt. Women forget to look sometimes at what they are in a positive way.

  12. 15

    I went on a beauty hunt and found inner beauty is more important (and that my eyes don’t need makeup to get noticed). This post reminds me of my sermon from last week! http://learningtogrowdaringtolove.blogspot.com/2014/02/sermon-taking-off-our-masks-and-finding.html

  13. 16

    I went on a beauty hunt today and found… an amazing creation, this body, 8 months into serving as the secret, depths of the earth where God knits together a promise. And rather than being 10 pounds over that “magic number I was never going to cross again” with the biggest gain ahead, or the “are you sure there aren’t two in there,” or the “favorite fat girl,” I choose to see a creation capable of growing life, nurturing life, and then exercise and work it’s way back to healthier forms. And He who enabled me to get healthy before will help me do it again, to His glory and to show this baby girl that we are loved and worthy and beautiful at every stage and size of life.

  14. 17
    sue alley says:

    I went on beauty hunt and found I’m comfortable with who I am…even at 340 pounds. I will continue to strive to be healthier, but along the way, no one else will define me.

  15. 18

    Okay, I went on a beauty hunt, and I discovered:
    – that my stretch marks are badges of honour, beautiful because of the babies that caused them.
    – that the laugh lines around my eyes (that refuse to disappear no matter how much cream I slather on them) reflect thousands of giggles shared
    – that my hands, showing signs of age, are lovely because of the work God has caused them to do.

    I needed that today. Thanks, lovely beautiful you! (I think you have gorgeous hair, for the record!)

  16. 19

    I went on a beauty hunt and found stretchmarks and an unflat stomach grown from pregnancies that made two beautiful boys.

  17. 20

    I went on a beauty hunt and found strong, broad shoulders from the hours they carry me across the pool. And long, curly hair whose current dryness testifies to the many hours in that pool chasing a black line and finding myself.

  18. 21

    I went on a beauty hunt and found a little boy with the longest, most luscious dark lashes. I found the beauty of mercy and grace that covers me on this journey of motherhood. I found the beauty of words written to encourage those who don’t always feel beautiful.

  19. 22

    I went on a beauty hunt and decided to trust the voice of my Creator and the voice of my wonderful husband who tell me I am beautiful, not the voice in my head molded my lies in my youth.
    Wrote about it here a while back:
    http://www.dowdeyfamily.blogspot.com/2013/11/beautiful-mess-pondering-beautiful.html

  20. 23
    AineMistig says:

    I went on a beauty hunt, and found the woman in the mirror. She saved a lonely man from his empty bed, and brought love along with two lives into his life. All the chaos, all the whining, all the dirty dishes — because he kept a far better house — was worth it to have a home with family in it when he leaves his place of work in this strange place far from the rolling hills of our childhoods. I found a woman who placed the love of their people in the rolling hills into the hearts and minds of their sons growing in the land of beaches so that they know the names of all those they’ve seldom met who love them deeper than kinship alone. I found the woman who took the time to play dress-up for school children, to turn the old tales of friendship and hard work and courage into something magical they can take a shred of and put into their pockets. I found the woman who loves as her grandmother did, through food and giving it away. I found the woman found by God who strives to remember Him and His Son and His Spirit every day to the three miracles in her life. I found the woman who tied love and life together.

  21. 24

    This is just beautiful. How in the world did you hit on this so perfectly?

    When my first was born I immediately was ashamed for all of my self hate. My gigantic forehead (sevenhead actually) etc. When this little tiny piece of perfection was a part of me… How could I critique myself the same way again.

    Hopefully motherhood helps us learn this otherwise we just hand the self hate down like a jagged stone we make them swallow.
    Thank you for this.

    Really,
    Georgia

  22. 25
    Christina Y. says:

    I went on a beauty hunt and found a nurturing spirit, a positive thinker, a hard worker who gives praises to The Lord! I never thought in a million years that being a momma of 4 and a wife could be such a beautiful thing!!!
    Beautifully written, Lisa Jo! God bless you!

  23. 26

    I went on a beauty hunt and found eyes that, though losing sight, haven’t lost vision. They see beautiful flowers where others only see weeds. These eyes see that the dandelion is as beautiful as the rose. They now see art where others only see bad exposure or lack of focus. There’s beauty in all of it and these dimming eyes can see it clearly.

  24. 27

    I was thinking of this today. Because it took me till a few years ago to realize I am not the same person I was in high school (graduated 15 years ago). And even if I were, it wouldn’t matter bc beauty is not what we see, but how we act and how we are inside. I went on a beauty hunt and found that my 4 year old is just as beautiful with a sparkly headband as without. She is stubborn as can be. That is frustrating right now, but will be part of her beauty in years to come.

  25. 28
    Diana Rockwell says:

    I went on a beauty hunt and found the love of God. I changed my hair style in July. I have lost 112 pounds. When I look in the mirror, I see my grandmother’s ears. When I write, I have my mother’s hands. Of course, I have my dad’s toes. I have struggle with feeling beautiful. With the love of God, I realize that my beauty comes from within. If my attitude is ugly, then my beauty isn’t as evident. With enough makeup, I recognize I am a reflection of God’s love, how can I insult God by not recognizing I am beautiful. Blessings, Diana

  26. 29

    I’m so sorry for those hurtful words spoken of you when you were vulnerable!
    In my opinion, a hairdresser’s job is to make you feel *more* beautiful! Those words…that is something a client may say of herself on a visit to the hairdresser, but only so that he/she has a point to start from to help you overcome those *perceived* flaws. He was way out of line, speaking them of you. I imagine he thought that was his job, but a pitiful one.

    What a shining example you are of one who is consciously working to overcome the image lies and improper focus of the world, and build a better foundation for your daughter. I wish you were my mother!

    Blessings to you and your lovely family.

  27. 30

    I’ve also struggled with this idea/perception, or lack there of, in myself as well. For many, many years. Maybe it was a ‘ugly duckling,’ comment made by my dad, probably out of jest. Maybe it was my sister, during pre-teen years, deciding to call me ‘wildebeest,’ instead of by my name. Maybe it was for a million kids at school, growing up, gawking and snickering at that awkwardly tall girl. Maybe it was a lot of things. Somewhere, six kids later (almost 7 ;), I found some spark inside that reminded me it was important to not forget I was still here. And, I still had a voice. And, as many worlds away as I pushed it, I still longed and needed to feel beautiful. I lost it somewhere between waking up early, throwing on sweats (or dare I say, ‘yoga pants,’ to sound a tad bit more sophisticated?)putting on a bandana, sans makeup, and a questionably clean shirt. Maybe. Or, maybe I lost it way before then. I presumed it wasn’t something I especially needed.

    That’s a lie. We all need it. Whether it be now or when we’re 80. No one loses the desire to feel beautiful. I started this journey about a year ago. I’m nowhere near done. But, I’m closer than I was yesterday. Reading articles of others who have shared the same feelings- is indescribable.

    Thank you. Today I found beauty in knowing my body is holding life again, that I’ve been blessed to be able to do this again. I found beauty in my 7 month old’s smile, and laughs and giggles…..you know, the ones that come straight up from the feet to the belly, to the head. Rolling laughter. The kind I need more of. I find beauty in my ability to teach my kids. I find beauty in both my boys and girls that I have. And, I know…. I’m gonna teach them strength, beauty and love- if it’s the last thing I do.

    Thank you for this.

  28. 31

    I went on a beauty hunt…. and found the creepy old visions of myself. I can hear my mother on the phone with me at 22 – “you are a slut, you are no longer my daughter, your father’s daughter, or your brother’s sister”. Still words that I will forever hear…. I fight not daily anymore, but yes, they creep in… in vulnerable moments.

    Surviving date rape and domestic violence in later years… and now a survivor. But those old sayings, horrid old sayings… – seemingly reinforced by the 16 y/o view of myself. I found out many years later in life that the “boy” I was infatuated with… in “love” with… bragged about his sexual relations with me to so many others. I never knew –

    Humiliation comes in brief moments… I have separated myself from the unhealthy messages of the past, unhealthy people… but I crave women who lift each other up… and find the beauty within…

    God picks me up everyday and brushes my dust off – and tells me I am renewed in His eyes… I just wish he was sometimes more of a salesman –

  29. 32

    I’m a subscriber to your blog, but have never left a comment. I just want to say how much your words lift and inspire me, daily. I don’t know you, but I greatly look up to you and your positive yet realistic perceptions. This post really helped me out, and I wrote about it on my own blog (I hope that’s okay, I referenced you and put a link to your blog on my blog). In any case, thank you for helping and inspiring me daily. I’m looking forward to buying and reading your book! Congratulations!

  30. 33

    I went on a beauty hunt today and found ears that hear laughter all over my busy house, eyes that see four children growing up on a completely different journey than I did (praise God), a soft body covered in soft clothes because I’ve learned after many years to give myself comfort not hate. I found a heart full of hope. I found energy despite chronic pain. I found joy in hands clinging like crazy to God’s precious Word. Thank you for sending me on the hunt. I needed that.

  31. 34

    I went on a beauty hunt and found that springflowers in the garden :-)

  32. 35

    I went on a beauty hunt and found that beauty is lovely. I have it and my daughter has it and everyone has it. And cultivating it is part of us.

  33. 36

    Thank you so much. I am a teenager and needed this so much today.
    I went on a beauty hunt and found laughing eyes and a smile that does not show the pain I’ve been through. ; the joy and beauty of kittens I helped save the lives of; and the assurance that I AM a child of God.

  34. 37

    Hmm it appears like your site ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so
    I guess I’ll just sum it up what I submitted and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.

    I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to everything.
    Do you have any suggestions for rookie blog writers?
    I’d definitely appreciate it.

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