The saying goes, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” If you are the beholder, what is it that you are looking for? Do you see yourself as beautiful or do you pick yourself apart seeing only your flaws? When you look at yourself, are you aiming to look like a magazine cover? What are those cover girls really like? First of all, they don’t even look like the cover. The amount of changes made to magazine images is totally disturbing. Also, most women who model are unable to be as thin as they are and be healthy. They do disturbing things, like eat paper napkins so they don’t feel so hungry. Or throw up everything they eat. I imagine they are quite cranky because of their intense struggle to remain thin. Is cranky beautiful? We all have the ability to shift our mentality in order to see ourselves as beautiful, not in a superficial way, but a meaningful way.
I strive to find balance in my goal of being healthy and the current reality of my schedule. I would love to eat totally nutrition food, exercise daily, and drink 8 glasses of water each day. Most days, I don’t get all of these things accomplished. So then, I have to allow my body the grace to operate under these circumstances. I have to shift my ideal so that I am able to see beauty in the mirror, no matter what the season of my life allows.
What does this grace look like? I used to have impressive abs – almost a six pack, when they were at their best. I loved my flat tummy! After two babies and several years, my abs have changed. Am I able to look at my abs and see beauty even though they are no longer flat? Am I able to call them beautiful because I know those abs held in two babies and carried them to full-term healthy births? So, I have a choice – I can look at my abs in disgust or I can give myself grace under the current circumstances of my life. I aim for grace.
My grandmother understands this idea very well. She is a woman who has been able to grab on to simple truths over the course of her life and let them guide her way of living. I remember she told me a story once of a time in college when she was dating a young man (before my grandfather). She had mentioned in passing to this man that she didn’t like the way her hands looked. The young man had replied, “Do they work?” To which she said, “Well, yes.” and he said, “Then you should be grateful.” My grandma took this comment to heart and decided to quit wasting her time begrudging the hands she’d been given. She chose gratitude.
Gratitude is so important. My mother was paralyzed in a car accident when I was 21 years old. She broke her neck and the break damaged her spinal cord. She went from being a P.E. teacher to a quadriplegic in a moment’s time. As I watched her struggle to do simple things, like swallow the food she couldn’t even feed to herself, I realized I had endless things to be grateful for. I am able to get up in the morning and brush my own teeth. I can hold my children and help them when they need me. I can walk, run, ride a bike and dance. My body enables me to do all these things. How can I lose sight of all of this and begin to pick apart the sections of my body that seem aesthetically less than I desire?
We are bombarded by images and messages that display an extremely narrow view of beauty. It takes a conscious effort to place those images aside and decide for ourselves what is beautiful. After all, we are the beholder of the beauty in our lives. I know for sure that the One who created you sees beauty when He looks upon you. I pray that if you are unable to see your own beauty, yet, that you begin to see yourself through His eyes!