When Your Definition of Beauty Is Shallow

“Isn’t she beautiful?”

I looked up to see who First Girl is referring to. As my gaze followed hers, I find myself looking at a woman who we, who I, wouldn’t generally peg as, um, beautiful.

And she is within ear shot.

“Uh, yes, she is honey.” I stammer out the words, quickly ducking my face back into the coloring sheet that suddenly holds all my fascination.

First Girl, she has a tendency of yelling out a little too loudly, a little too boldly, how she’s seeing the world. At first glance, I simply laugh to myself that maybe she needs a lesson in discerning what is attractive and what isn’t.

But the more she calls out beauty where I see only dull, boring or even ugly, I start wondering if maybe I’m the one who needs a lesson.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but what if my eye has become dim and calloused and straight up critical having gone round the sun these thirty something years? 

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Maybe First Girl is seeing the world through the lens of Heaven and couldn’t I, couldn’t we, all use a bit more of that?

A bit more of seeing people by the reflection of their soul rather than the condition of their clothes?

The people we’re rubbing shoulders with and trying hard not to make eye contact with, yeah, they might be the very people radiating bright on those streets of gold someday. The dim among us might be that way because to see them in their true glory now would shock our hearts.

And the people First Girl is calling out as beautiful might just be that. We’re all covered with the fingerprints of God and there are no ordinary people so why do we rush past each other like we’re much too busy to interact with angels? Why do we rail against the customer service agent at the ticketing desk and make fun of the man limping down the street? Why do we kill off the babes who have a few extra chromosomes and try to ignore the woman who hasn’t showered in over a week?

What if we could see people the way Jesus sees them?

What if we could see ourselves?

Now I’m wondering if the tables would be turned and people would be wondering who is the haggard old woman dressed in rags? Because all the fancy clothes can’t change the hard to swallow truth: that my true self might be the most ugly thing the world has ever seen.

What if our pride and our jealousy and that coveting of what we see on Instagram darkened our faces like it does our hearts? What if every cruel, snide and gossip-laden word we spoke left the scars on our body the way it cuts down another person?

A hard look at my heart leaves me stumbling under the weight of the filth and the stink. That Carpenter Man, He had harsh words for those people walking around thinking they’re prettier, holier, better than everyone else, clueless to their own stench of death.

It’s almost enough to make you throw the towel in and crawl back under the covers.

But Hallelujah, He doesn’t leave us there, sitting on the trash heap thinking we’re building sand castles. He takes His nailed scarred hands, He picks us up and calls us Beloved and tells us that our beauty is captivating.

We’re not loved because of our beauty, we’re beautiful because we’re loved.

Couldn’t we all use a bit more Heaven here on Earth? Couldn’t we use a bit more beauty, a bit more wonder and awe and a lot less of the cutting down and tearing each other apart? Couldn’t we stand to see more glory and less evil, more radiant life and less decay and death?

Maybe it starts with opening eyes wide to the wonder of the extraordinary person right in front of us. Open our eyes to the stunning reminder that we’re all in process of becoming our future glory or our future horror and who can really tell the difference some days?

“She has beautiful shoes!”

I look down at the worn orthopedic shoes the woman is wearing and smile.

“Yes, she does.”

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