I have a friend, we’ll call her Jane, who I see on a weekly basis.
Every week, she has on the same faded dark blue pants and blue coat. She wears a pink and blue knitted hat, which she never takes off. Although I sit down next to her so we can talk, she rarely looks me in the eye and often keeps her head down.
Like many of the women I’ve met from downtown Fort Worth, she has lost custody of her child. She is holding on to hope she can get out of the homeless shelter, get on her feet and get her young daughter back. I got to see a picture of Jane’s daughter, a beautiful girl with sunshine in her eyes. I could see the love and pain in her eyes as she showed me the photo, the one thing she has to hold on to while someone else gets to hold her girl.
As we talk, Jane usually goes through the list of things she is doing to get her child back – parenting and life skills classes, various appointments, all the typical things that are required of parents who have lost their children due to some type of family break down.
Every week, she opens up a little more, and this last time, I got what I know was a rare glimpse into the deepest part of this woman, the sadness that keeps her head down and her eyes from meeting mine.
One of the things she has to do before she gets her daughter back, she says, is get new clothes.
“They say I’m ugly,” she said, tears welling. “They don’t like how I look.”
My heart sank for this sister, this child of God who feels too ugly to even be a mother. I know ‘they’ likely did not say the words, “You’re ugly,” but whatever was said, that’s all she heard. Sadly, I can relate.
I immediately took her hands and told her she is beautiful, a daughter of the King, and therefore a princess. I told her she is made in the image and likeness of God and prayed with her that God would help her to see her beauty and worth as His precious girl, to lift her out of this bondage.
I know how defeating it is to feel ugly, how crushing it is to believe you don’t measure up.
That moment with Jane reminded me of an encounter I had with a woman very much like her in San Francisco last summer. As I sat on a bench in the downtown business district with a woman who called herself Butterfly, I showed her photos of my kids on my phone. My fingers fumbled and brought up the phone’s camera, which was in the reverse mode, and we could see ourselves on the screen. This was the first time Butterfly had seen her own reflection in a couple of years and she cried when she saw how she looked.
Her tear-stained words?
“I’m so ugly.”
At the heart of every woman is a deep desire to be beautiful, and not just to be beautiful but to be considered beautiful by others.
I know from experience how feeling beautiful can lift a woman’s confidence, empower her to do things she may otherwise dare not attempt. I also know how feeling ugly can hold us back, make us wither into the background and give up.
This isn’t about vanity, this is about value and knowing who we are and Whose we are. With the enemy working so hard to tear us down, it can be all too easy to let someone or something, some circumstance dictate our perceptions of our own beauty and worth.
Maybe you’re like me and my friend Jane, and can fall into that trap of feeling ugly – too ugly to live a dream, too ugly to talk to certain people, go certain places, do certain things. If that’s you, please know I get it, I’ve been there and fought that battle.
Just a few days ago, I walked out of a store in tears convinced I was too fat to ever buy the clothes I was looking for and too ugly to keep shopping with all of the fashionable, well-put-together women who were not wearing pony tails and worn out jeans.
But God’s word pulled me out of that pit.
“You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.”Songs of Songs 4:7
Despite what the world tells us, Scripture tells us that beauty is not outward, it’s not about how we do our hair; it’s not about our clothes and jewelry. And if we believe 2 Timothy 3:16 that all scripture is God breathed and profitable, then in the battle between the world’s opinion and God’s truth, God’s truth wins.
If you’re struggling to believe you are beautiful, take captive those negative thoughts, those lies, and focus instead on those things are true, right and pure.
You are made in God’s image. You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
And sister, you are beautful.
“So God created man in his own image … ” Genesis 1:27
“Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.” Psalm 34:5
“So shall the king greatly desire your beauty: for he is your Lord; and worship you him.” Psalm 45:11
“But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” 1 Peter 3:4
“I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:14