Thursday, December 13, 2012

Pretty Is as Pretty Does.

There is an expression down here in the south that I really like.  I had never heard it before I moved here - but it is so fitting.  It goes something like this:

"Well, I don't want to be ugly, but . . . "
"And then she just got ugly with me . . . "
"You don't have to be ugly."
"He was just ugly about it."

The expression essentially means hateful, mean, judgmental -- take your pick of negative words.  "Being ugly" is not a thing you generally want to be, and I don't just mean that you don't want to look ugly in your physical appearance.

I like this so much, because it is just what we become when we are arrogant or spiteful:  ugly.  I am finding this in myself a lot of late.  I've been judgmental, careless in my words and thoughts, and especially careless in my liberal use of the freedom to express my negative opinions.  Of others.  In a word, I've been ugly.

Ask any of my family members and they will tell you that I have a horrendous self-image.  It stems from childhood, has been made slightly better by therapy, is never going to change that much because of my personality - whatever.  Suffice it to say that while I believe that God did not make me defective or wrong, I don't like myself most of the time.  So it doesn't help when I find myself being "ugly."  I really hate myself when I realise that the sin in my life has been allowed to run rampant, and no amount of makeup or losing weight is going to fix it.  The only fixing this kind of ugly is repentance; a humble admission that I have been wrong.  The cleansing grace of my Savior comes in, and although I wouldn't go right to pretty, at least I'm not ugly anymore.

I've also been wondering lately just what we really do look like.  Not the body - but us, the true selves.  Are we just wisps, or thoughts?  Does God look at us and admire the curve of our joy, or the slant of our generosity?  I've always had great hair (it's my one feature that I really do like about myself).  It feels like a crown that I wear.  Is there some spiritual equivalent of this that God has given each of us?  And what is with this whole idea that the physical body tends to look like the outward appearance of the inward soul?

I do believe that God is delighted in the good we reflect back to Him, like He's able to see some tiny aspect of Himself in the mirror of us. And the amazing thing is that He is able to overpower the ugly in us like light extinguishes darkness in a room.  It simply cannot exist in His presence.  So when I am looking at Him, I am not ugly.  I am forgiven and loved.

So while it takes hair color and good conditioner to make my "crown" of hair look good, that's really all smoke and mirrors.  It takes my repentance and humility to make the real me beautiful - just like the Saviour whose love changes me daily.  True beauty really is in the eye -- His eye -- of the Beholder.

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