“Yes, you look beautiful.” I said. “Stunning.”
“Ugh, I hate that one. Look my eyes – they are swollen. And my face looks fat.”
“No, actually, your eyes are sparkling and your face does not look fat. Oh friend,” I said. “I wish you could see you like I see you.”
For us girls, if we have had that conversation one time, we’ve had it a thousand times. And while I’ve never been a fly on the wall during guy-talk, I image the same conversation surfaces through different words at some level for guys, too. We’re not fooled, guys, you’re not really macho macho men.
It’s interesting though how self-critical we can be. How all we can see are the bags under our eyes or the pimples on our face or our fat legs or our too skinny arms when the first thing other people notice is the beam in our eyes or the warmth on our face or the characteristics that make us uniquely us.
And it’s not just our physical appearance, we…well at least I…do the same thing when it comes to character. Recently, at a book club meeting (cheers to book clubs!) with a group of trusted women, I shared the story of what is perhaps my biggest regret in life thus far. And in telling them the story, I stared my ugly humanness right in the face…yet again.
It’s true, our own human nature fails us a lot. I have a perfectionist in me that refuses to die. I have judgmental thoughts that pop in to my head without warning. And patience, well, we will have to save that one for another day because in my life, that’s a topic worthy of its own entire blog post…or two.
And yet at that meeting, in the midst of me admitting my own mistakes, frustrated that after multiple times around the mountain, I still couldn’t quite learn some of the lessons life was trying to teach me, my friend looked me straight in the eye and said:
“Kelli, the most beautiful people in my life are the broken ones. You are beautiful. Your heart beats to bring life and encouragement and love to others. God has given you a sensitive heart, gentleness, compassion and a rare understanding for life. We all make mistakes. We all get tangled up in lessons we can’t learn quick enough. We all have things that we don’t like about ourselves. But friend, I so wish you could see yourself like we see you.”
And here’s what I realized. Whether we look at physical pictures of ourselves or look inside at our own soul, we see the pain, the memories, the fears, the scars, the struggle, the disappointments and the dreams that haven’t yet come true. We see the weight we want to lose or gain, the hair we wished we had or the eye color we hate so much. We see our flaws. We see our brokenness. And those things are present, no doubt. And while they may describe us, they do not define us.
Because what our friends see in us is equally there, equally present. The gentleness, kindness, joy, compassion, hope, warmth, zeal for life and passion for people. The features that make us beautiful inside and out. Those are there, we just need to look for them.
So while we shouldn’t give up on growing and maturing and learning, I’m going to try to look for the sparkle in my own eyes before I criticize the bags underneath them. And I encourage you, friends, to do the same.
Here’s to the broken, beautiful ones.