We are all so much more than we appear to be.
Not everyone gets that.
If we aren’t as good as what was expected, people might be disappointed.
If we’re more than what was anticipated, it’s a pleasant surprise.
When Sydney was dressed, her makeup and hair done appropriately for the prom, it was a significant transformation. Our soccer player who knows how to work hard and sweat metamorphosed into a beautiful and composed young woman. She won’t dress like this every day, though she did enjoy the temporary outer modifications.
We all have the capacity to amaze.
Watching Sydney journey through this season of high school dances and dresses, I was reminded of my own journey as a teen dealing with how I looked, how I was accepted, and whether I could be what I wanted to be.
I went to school with so many girls who were beautiful, poised, and self-confident. Growing up with a mom who constantly reminded me that you could never be too thin or too rich, I learned appearance meant a lot. There were so many times when I’d look in the mirror and believe I was a disappointment. Mom had been popular growing up, dating two or three guys at the same time, managing to do so without any of them knowing she was dating others. I didn’t date much in high school; I was shy and insecure, unsure of who I was or who I could be. I read voraciously; I’d lose myself in stories, dreaming of what could be possible.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized how many things don’t have the value I originally placed on them. Appearance is something we all have, and judging how others look doesn’t take into account a story we probably don’t know.
God chose Israel to be His people, making them a blessing to the whole world. As a people, they’ve been through so much sorrow and misunderstanding. God speaks to the oppression they have felt throughout history. He speaks to our pain as well.
“To all who mourn in Israel, He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for His own glory.” Isaiah 61:3
Ashes were sprinkled on the heads of those who mourned. Pain and death are part of life. But God speaks of exchanging ashes for a crown of beauty, a sign of dignity and festivity. This is a contrast to those who are hurting and alone; God will redeem them with hope and beauty. A gift of joy that changes sorrow to gladness. God cares about our whole person–not just what we look like. That’s the miracle that Jesus can do for anyone who chooses Him.
All this so we may grow strong and true, like oak trees that withstand the severest storms.
Sydney’s value isn’t based on her looks or soccer skills. Her worth isn’t determined by whether she goes to a dance or scores a goal.
She’s beautiful because she’s made in the image of the God who made her.
We all are.
What would it be like to believe you were truly beautiful?