Wednesday, September 24, 2014

For Beautiful

"Do you want to see a pretty picture of me?"

I turned slightly in my chair to see if I could glimpse the owner of the sweet little voice that asked the question. There she was, sitting on her grandma's lap, honey-streaked hair in a blunt bob, sweet heart-shaped face looking at pictures on her mother's phone.

"Of course!" grandma said.

It struck me how innocent the question was. Do you want to see a pretty picture of me? It's wasn't boastful or prideful, or self-deprecating and sarcastic, but wrapped in the sweetness of a little girl's purity and sincerity.

It made me wonder when adults lose the innocence and pick up on the fact that as a general rule, asking others if they want to see a pretty picture of themselves isn't kosher. But we do offer ourselves up in other ways, like posting a selfie on FaceBook, Instagram, and other social media outlets. We ask do you want to see a pretty picture of me? without saying a word. But oftentimes, we don't feel like we can accept the praise or the criticism that may come with the responses, and we turn a simple question of affirmation into much more.

I don't think there is anything wrong with acknowledging a pretty picture--even when it is of yourself. It's when we let our hearts get filled with pride, or with hate, that we tend to get a little sideways. Because when the heart gets filled with pride, or with self-hate, we tend to focus a little more on self and little less on anything else. And self can be a dangerous thing to focus on for too long.

I've been there--am currently there, will probably come back to this spot, too--and I know how narrow my focus became when all I could focus on was myself. I know from experience that an intense self-focus can make your heart sick with pride and expectation and comparing and vanity. That doesn't always mean you think you are great all the time. It just means that you think about yourself all the time, and may not even realize it.

So God created man in his own image...
{genesis 1:27}

We were all created in God's perfect image. Which means we are all created in our own unique and beautiful way. My mom used to tell me that God never makes mistakes, and he doesn't make junk, but I never believed her. I thought he should have used a little more thought and care when he made me, because I didn't look like the images I was comparing myself to. And now I realize what a waste of time all that fretting over Seventeen magazine was, because there is nothing I can do or should do to change me. That doesn't mean I don't still do it, but it's still, 20 years later, a big waste of time.

Embrace your own special kind of beauty, flaws and imperfections and great features and all. (And then move on.)


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