Beauty Stares Me in the Face

Be beautiful by ben grey

Every time I look in the mirror, I’m reminded that I don’t look very beautiful.

Ouch. Did I say that out loud?

Beauty is a sore subject with me, yet over the past few years God has awakened me to its glory. When I experience something beautiful–standing at the ocean or watching my grandchildren play–I am transformed. Writers, like John O’Donahue, have helped me understand that beauty enables us to experience God with our senses.

For the past six months,  Doug Schroeder, the director of SoulStream community, and Jeff Imbach, one of the founding partners, and I have been working on a new SoulStream initiative: A Contemplative Response to the World. In our conversations, which take place by Skype, we realized that God is inviting our community to respond, not just to the pain and brokenness in the world, but to its beauty as well.

I enjoyed the work we were doing and looked forward to seeing Doug and Jeff’s faces pop up on my computer screen, but I didn’t like seeing mine.

No wonder I had trouble valuing beauty! From a young age, I haven’t been able to wrap my mind around a God who delights in beauty yet didn’t create me with this gift. I clung to statements like “Beauty is only skin deep” and verses like 1 Samuel 16:7, “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” But these consoling messages
only confirmed the fact that I’m not that attractive.

Now that I knew why I was afraid to love beauty, a new way of coming to terms with it seemed possible. I felt hopeful enough to e-mail Doug and Jeff and let them know I had an “aha” moment.

The next time we skyped, Doug asked me to tell them about it. I wished I hadn’t said anything. How would I explain it to them without feeling embarrassed?

But I did. And as I did, Doug wiped tears from his eyes.

They both confessed that they didn’t like seeing their faces on the screen either.

“But, when I look at you, I see brothers that I love so much,” I said.

“That’s how we see you too!” Doug replied.

“Can you believe, when we look at you, we see someone we love?” Jeff asked.

I nodded.

If anyone had walked in on our “I love you, man!” conversation, they might have thought it was the sappiest moment in SoulStream history. But that moment helped me picture God creating me and being immensely pleased with my beauty.

Daisies by Peter Miller

  God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
— Genesis 1:31 (NIV)

Credits and references:
“Be Beautiful” by Ben Grey. Used with permission.
“Daisies” by Peter Miller. Used with permission.
Beauty: The Invisible Embrace by John O’Donahue
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2015.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013, 2014, 2015.  http://www.estherhizsa.wordpress.com

About Esther Hizsa

Esther is a spiritual director and writer. She lives in Burnaby with her husband, Fred, and they have two grown children and two grandchildren.
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8 Responses to Beauty Stares Me in the Face

  1. Esther, thank you so much for this beautiful gift of vulnerability. It echoes a recent aha moment of my own when God helped me realize that what I thought was a struggle to trust someone was really about seeing myself through a lens of shame and assuming everyone else sees me through the same lens. It was so hard to ask how the other person felt about a particular situation, but when I did, like you, I found her perspective completely different than my own. I found myself loved and valued. I’m guessing there are a lot of us out there who struggle with the same thing, so thanks for putting words to it and reminding us that vulnerability is worth the risk and brings life both to ourselves and to others—and that the way we see ourselves isn’t the final truth. (Huh. That makes me think of those distorted mirrors at theme parks. Do you suppose sin and its effects of shame so warp us that looking in a glass-and-silver-paint mirror will always give us a picture of ourselves that is distorted in some way or other, and the only place we can get a true reflection is by looking into the eyes of Jesus, including as he is embodied to us in our brothers and sisters?)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Esther Hizsa says:

    Carolyn, thank you for your comments. Thoughts are percolating about beauty that is not apparent… stay tuned.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Esther, I never would have guessed your struggle with beauty. You have always seemed to me someone who appreciates beauty… in art, in nature, in people. And countless times I’ve been inspired by your ability to find and acknowledge beauty in even the most unlikely and unexpected places (on sidewalks, in negative emotions, in people on the fringes of society). You have seen beauty and shown love in places where, quite often, people turn away in disgust.

    When I look at you I don’t just see someone I love. I see someone who is beautiful–beautiful in character and kindness, yes! Beautiful in heart, soul, and mind. But also beautiful in face and features. A lovely smile, always welcoming and warm. Beautiful eyes that shine and sparkle. Great skin tone… I could go on, you know.

    Thank you for your vulnerability, it’s another beautiful thing about you. I hope you know that when others look at you, beauty stares them in the face!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Esther Hizsa says:

    Thanks so much, Kelly. It’s been a process and I am glad God’s work in me in me is bearing fruit. I am grateful for what you have said here and receive and cherish it. Thank you!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dave Small says:

    Thanks for sharing such a “beautiful” post and putting into words a struggle many seem to share.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Hidden Beauty | An Everyday Pilgrim

  7. Pingback: God Is So Beautiful | An Everyday Pilgrim

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