In the book “Expecting Adam” (a beautiful story about a child with Down syndrome born to Harvard-educated parents who were shunned from the Harvard community for not considering abortion), author Martha Beck tells of a simple exercise she did in college.
For one evening in the dorm dining hall, she was going to try to resist assigning any labels to her classmates that arrived for dinner, to look at them without preconceptions. She admitted the task was almost impossible, and then she wrote that she had to stop the exercise after just a few minutes.
She had to stop because she was so overcome with the beauty of everyone around her that she kept crying.
“If we saw people as they really are, the beauty would overwhelm us,” she said.
Society and advertising try to tell us everyday how we should look and how we should act, and how others should look and act. Long, thick hair. Tall, slender body with long legs. Full face of makeup and complementing jewelry. And let’s not forget this season’s latest clothing styles and shoes to boot (<–see what I did there? 🙂 )
I’m willing to bet if you examined the people you most like to be around, people who lift you up just being who they are – best friends, a mentor you look up to, your beloved family – that physical appearance are not why you like to be around them.
People who are uplifting and a blessing to be around are confident and happy. And having confidence and happiness lead you to be able to be the smartest person you can be, the funniest person you can be, the most helpful person you can be, the kindest person you can be…without worrying about what others will think.
Confidence and happiness don’t come from physical appearance. Being physically beautiful according to society’s standards doesn’t automatically give you the confidence you need to sail through life or solve all your problems. I’ve found that some very beautiful girls – girls I sadly wished I looked like in high school – have had huge problems with lack of confidence and unhappiness.
No one is immune to self-doubt at different points in their lives, even as they feel comfortable in who they are. Because society tells to constantly strive for bigger and better and more “beautiful.” And sometimes we listen.
But here’s the secret that Brenna has let me in on: there is nothing in the world that you can buy that will give you true, lasting happiness and confidence. You are enough as you are. You are as God created you, and there is so much more beauty in that than anything in the pages of magazines or on billboards.
Ever noticed that happiness has the letter I right in the middle of it? How awesome is this? Just as I is the center of the word happiness, so it is the the true center of our overall happiness. My core happiness starts with myself, I, and radiates outward to impact all of the different areas of my life.
Are you happy with yourself? Why or why not? This isn’t a question with an answer that should be “no, I want to lose 20 pounds.” Are you TRULY happy with who you are as a person? Because you should be. You are a beautiful person who is making a difference in the world.
Having Brenna come into my life has awakened so many realizations about beauty and difference and happiness. So when my blogger friend Courtney asked others to share about One Big Truth they have come to know either over their lifetime or recently, I was flooded with different perspectives I have gained since Brenna’s birth.
But one stood out to me as unique to my experience, so I’m sharing it today with you…
As Martha Beck pointed out in “Expecting Adam,” there is so much beauty in ALL of us that it is overwhelming.
So today, go tell someone why you think they’re beautiful. Even if it’s that someone looking back at you in the mirror.
Be overwhelmed at the beauty all around you. And be happy with your own overwhelming beauty.