The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart. – Helen Keller
You are beautiful. On the days when you struggle with self-confidence or don’t see what the rest of us see, please know this: You really are beautiful.
When God created you He made you beautiful. Before you were conceived, there was a plan designed just for you. Part of that plan was not only where you would be born or what circumstances you would face in life, but also what you would look like – the shape of your body, the size of your ears and the color of your skin. And all of these things contribute to your unique beauty.
The following poem is a wonderful reminder that when we doubt our beauty, we can rely on the fact we were created for a reason:
You are who you are for a reason.
You’re part of an intricate plan.
You’re a precious and perfect unique design,
Called God’s special woman or man.
You look like you look for a reason.
Our God made no mistake.
He knit you together within the womb.
You’re just what He wanted to make.
The parents you had were the ones He chose,
And no matter how you may feel,
They were custom-designed with God’s plan in mind,
And they bear the Master’s seal.
No, that trauma you faced was not easy.
And God wept that it hurt you so;
But it was allowed to shape your heart
So that into His likeness you’d grow.
You are who you are for a reason,
You’ve been formed by the Master’s rod.
You are who you are, beloved,
Because there is a God!
by Russell Kelfer
Removing the coats
My self-image has been poor most of my life. When I was a boy, I disliked my curly hair. I wish it was straight like the other boys. I was also painfully aware of my speech impediment. My “Rs” were a source of shame. Words like “bird,” and “first” came out like “burd,” and “furst.”
I would think about each word before speaking, which caused me to stutter thus further exacerbating my insecurities. Simply put, I was not comfortable with how God made me. I thought I was damaged and that I did something wrong to deserve these things. I wished God made me better. I wished God made me more beautiful.
My sense of self was fragile at best. I felt isolated, abandoned and hopeless. My anger gradually turned inward and as a result, a depression has draped over me like an oversized coat for most of my life. Freedom comes when we find the strength to remove the heavy coat and allow the world see the beautiful colors underneath.
As a young adult I thought the key to removing the coat was to stay focused and determined to do so, no matter the cost. My intent was to find personal beauty as defined by me. I cut my hair short, consumed myself with my career, and made certain everything was in its place at all times.
Turning away from the natural beauty has had its consequences. It has kept me from loving me and it has kept me from loving others with a free and open heart. This impediment has resulted in having difficulty in seeing their natural beauty, too.
It is becoming clearer now how to begin removing this coat and to keep it from serving as a barrier, hiding my beautiful colors from others and from me.
There is no perfection in beauty
The obstacle that keeps me from seeing my full beauty is my mother’s spirit. She died seven months ago. Her ashes are in an ordinary container somewhere in my father’s house. A few weeks after she died her clothes and personal items were packed in boxes and either given to charity or thrown away. It’s as though her memory has been wiped away; except for somewhere in my soul. She still lives there.
God does pick the color of our eyes and He decides on our parents, too. All of these selections He does for a reason. When we look at our physical features and life experiences it can be difficult to always find the value in what He selected for us. For most of my life, I have been angry at God for what he has given me.
As a child not only did I have to tolerate the embarrassment of how I talked, but layered on top of that was the pain of living with an alcoholic parent. She ignored her beauty and could never acknowledge it. My mother covered it with bourbon and rum.
She made me into her beauty surrogate. My mother’s thought process, I assume, may have gone something like this: “The beauty I once felt about myself is gone. I don’t have the energy or passion to look for it. But Alex, my youngest, is a beautiful child. If I don’t damage him and keep him as perfect as possible then others will see the beauty in his perfection and understand he came from me; therefore making me beautiful in their eyes once again.”
From an early age I associated feeling beautiful with feeling perfect. The more I did to make sure I was doing everything right, I thought, would only enhance my beauty. And if I enhanced my beauty enough, then I might just be able to change my mother.
My mother never changed. But, I am changing.
I am beginning to understand that she did things for her benefit, not mine. The focus and attention she directed to me was an attempt to deflect the choices she was making. Now it’s time to give all of this back to my mother and not allow it to define my sense of beauty anymore. It’s time to continue finding the beautiful me and watch her spirit leave my soul and allow God to occupy more of it.
Take in the beauty
Each day I get to choose to find the beauty He has placed there. And on the days I’m not feeling particularly beautiful and struggling with poor self-esteem, these new habits will provide some relief and guidance:
Celebrate your flaws. My wide nose gives me a distinct look. My nose is part of what makes me uniquely Alex. Pick one attribute you don’t like and turn it in to something positive. Celebrate it and understand what you may consider a flaw is really a gift that has been given you to for a reason.
Watch negative self-talk. Be kind and positive to yourself. Change the cant’s to I haven’t yet learned. Pay more attention to what you are doing right and the beauty you create and less on what you don’t have, or think you should have.
Lift your head. You are not a mistake. What has happened to you has not been a mistake. Lift your head and understand, and really feel, you are here for a special purpose.
Do one thing to feel beautiful everyday. For me, it’s my commitment to working out and staying in shape. I enjoy seeing myself as lean, vibrant and to be honest, desirable.
Notice the beauty around you. When we take the time to see what’s beautiful in our lives, then we are in a better position to internalize that beauty and make it a part of our own. Notice the beautiful color of the changing leaves or the expression on your children’s faces when they learn something new. God puts beautiful things in plain view everyday; we just have to remember to open our eyes and take them in.
Finding the beautiful you
Winter will be here soon. In a few weeks my family will be pulling out the winter gloves, hats and coats. The cold weather in Kansas gives us no choice but to wrap up tight before heading outside. The season of spring and its promise of beautiful renewal is far away, but that doesn’t mean we can’t carry its spirit in our hearts today and every day.
What we wear on the outside is sometimes a matter of necessity, but how we feel on the inside makes all the difference in how we view ourselves and others around us. Underneath the experiences we had as children and the coats we wear to protect us from a seemingly cold and harsh world is our natural beauty – a beauty carefully architected for each of us.
With the grip of my mother slowly fading, I am finding the strength to remove the coats that have kept others from seeing my natural beauty. Anger is being replaced with hope and I am beginning to see the vibrant colors He placed in me and I’m finding the courage to share my colors for the world to see. This is something I have neglected for 47 years, but will no longer.
Finding the beautiful you is not about finding perfection with how you look, but in accepting you are who you are for a reason. Perfection is not required, only joy in celebrating your special brand of compassion, talent and beauty.
You really are beautiful. And, I am beautiful too.