The word was said. The one that set my teeth on edge. The one that sent chills down my spine making me cringe with discomfort, because I promise you, it did not apply to me. In that moment, my spiritual mentor looked me square in the eye and told me that a year from that moment I would have a different relationship with that word.
I was certain that word applied to other people. I chose to see evidence of it in skin and body shape, clothes and shops, action and appearance. I chose its frame. I chose its meaning. I chose to find myself lacking. I chose pain. Self-inflicted pain, but pain nonetheless.
I don’t know when I chose to believe the lie. I don’t consciously remember choosing. The lie that the word did not apply to me was whispered a thousand times over in a thousand places. Each lied whisper stacked up with the other whispers I had believed and eventually the whispers were the cement block walls surrounding my heart. Causing me to believe that there was no possible way the word applied to me was a victory for the one who comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10) His horrific whispers seemed so convincing, so “truthful,” so repetitive, that I submitted all to willingly.
But the One who truly loves me, the one who comes to bring life, a truly full life (John 10:10) had not forgotten about my need to experience this word. He knew all of the ways it applied to me. He had been calling me back to it over and over again. He knew the battleground was massive. He knew how distorted my perception was. He knew I had lost the true meaning of the word and had believed what culture says about it. He knew that I needed a complete shift of thinking. He loved me enough, He loved me so thoroughly that He was willing to bash down the cement walls around my heart in order to remind me repeatedly that the word originated with Him, He defined it, He embodied it. Because I am made in His image, I therefore wear it too.
Slowly, painfully slowly, I am coming to terms with this word. The learning has been slow. There have been small tip toes forward and giant leaps backwards. I have learned to cringe a little less – not in a fake it ’til you make it kind of way, but in a genuine start to believe that the word was meant for me. I have been awestruck with how completely inaccurate my definition of the word was when it stacks up with God’s definition. Aching awareness has come with genuine gratitude. His great tenderness in the midst of lies and deep seated unbelief has again revealed His Father heart for me.
My definition of the word – all about the physical appearance, the shell that is a body, the alignment of features – beautiful encompassed all of that.
However, my God doesn’t define beautiful that way. “Beauty begins at the Cross.” (Shook, Shook Alpha, p. 16) Love is found at the cross, forgiveness, hope, meaning, eternity too. Because He chose the cross, the object of the most degrading disdain, I am made beautiful in His eyes.
It was never about my outward appearance, it was always about His grandiose generosity to me. Basking in His love, beautiful fits. I choose this word because of Him.
“Listen, O daughter, consider and give ear: Forget your people and your father’s house. The king is enthralled by your beauty; honour him, for he is your lord.” Psalm 45: 10-11 (NIV)
“Now listen, daughter, don’t miss a word: forget your country, put your home behind you. Be here – the king is wild for you. Since he’s your lord, adore him.” Psalm 45:10-11 (MSG)
Shook, C. & Shook Alpha, M. (2016). Beauty Begins: Making Peace with Your Reflection. Colorado Springs: WaterBrook Press.