Sometimes you just need a pick-me-up.
T minus 4 years ago I developed a heightening concern for my appearance. Comparison, as we learn from Theodore Roosevelt, is the thief of joy. My increasing self-consciousness about how I looked was due in part to comparing myself to a particular friend of mine. She was beautiful, both inside and out. Throughout our friendship, I observed how men were attracted to her, both for her good looks and her beautiful soul. I couldn’t help but feel a bit jealous. Interestingly enough, this all came about just after I had prayed for an increase in humility.
Asking for Humility
I tried to use this unexpected struggle as a tool to grow in self-knowledge (as hard as it was to recognize my uncomfortably apparent sin of pride) and as an opportunity to invite God to speak His truth and His beauty into my life. I decided to turn to my Mother Mary.
“Blessed Mother,” I prayed, “I have been asking Jesus for humility and I see He is answering my prayer. Mary, I entrust my heart to you.”
The next day in prayer, I felt Jesus say to me, “You will find your beauty in Me.” I was encouraged and filled with hope, anticipating what He had in store!
I only had to wait a short time. Just weeks after sending this prayer to the heavens, I was out for drinks with my friend. Of course, it was one of those days that we all have at one time or another (probably more frequently than we would like to admit), where I just felt like a scrub.
As we ordered our drinks and caught up on life, a handsome young man slid into our booth. To my surprise, he slid in next to me. “Score!” I thought.
Ten minutes later, I discovered his true motives as he leaned toward me and said, “Now don’t get me wrong. You are super, super cute; but she is gorgeous!” as he made a head-nod in the direction of my friend.
That night, I sunk into bed holding back tears. Just a couple of weeks earlier I felt Jesus say He would show me my beauty, and it felt like the opposite had happened.
Discovering My Beauty in Him
Well, God is faithful. I just needed to be patient. The next morning, He spoke to my heart. I was walking out of morning Mass when Jim, an elderly widower and one of my favorite Mass regulars and newfound friend, greeted me. Just a few days earlier, we had finally introduced ourselves after crossing paths on the way out of Mass.
As I walked up to Jim for our now regular morning pleasantries, he looked at me with his bright, blue eyes and said, “Now, I can say this because I am an old man. But if I was younger, I’d be chasin’ ya. You are very beautiful!”
When I thanked him, he said, “Don’t thank me, thank your mom, your dad, and God for that!”
His genuine words spoke directly to my soul and were a source of joy and strength for me not only throughout that day, but even now, four years later. His words to me were so specific and so intentional; they provided me with not just words to hear, but a truth to savor. That I was beautiful, with a beauty worthy of praising God.
Do You Know You’re Beautiful?
Psalm 139:14 is a commonly quoted verse in the Bible, but how many times do we take the words to heart? How many times have we confidently exclaimed to the Lord the words “I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works!”?
Our beauty is found in Christ, and it is not an act of vanity to praise Him for creating us “so wonderfully.” When we proclaim these words in awe and wonder of God’s creation, we honor Him by our worship of His great craftsmanship. Even on the days when you do feel like a scrub, remember, Jesus does not make mistakes. Your very self He knows, and your bones are not hidden from Him. He formed you and He finds you beautiful, with a beauty worthy of praise.
Sisters, are you confident in the beauty God has given you? Why or why not? I encourage you to take this to prayer today!
Susanna Parent serves as Evangelization Manager for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis in the Office of Evangelization. She is a recent graduate of the Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry program with the School of Divinity at the University of St. Thomas. When she’s not reading and writing you can find her enjoying life with her new husband, brewing French press coffee in her kitchen, reading wine labels with friends in an effort to discover the perfect Pinot Noir and blogging about her travel adventures. You can learn more about her here.