The touch of God comes in the most odd of ways. It confounds your expectation and theology, and you’re usually ten steps down the road when the miracle of what has actually just happened finally dawns on you. That was my experience last week when I had an unprecedented encounter in the middle of my exercise routine.
There I was, in schlepp mode early Saturday morning, attempting to sneak in a quick run before getting ready for the day. I was focusing all my energies on athletic prowess, and was definitely not at my sartorial best! The arena was humming with the usual Hockey-family crowd, complete with a myriad of young ‘uns swarming around, making running an exercise in sprightly maneuvering. Off to the side were two little girls, about seven or eight, deeply immersed in some kind of game on their tablets. Half-way through my session, one of these little blondie-blonde damsels hailed me as I came by. I responded immediately, thinking she was looking for directions or help of some kind. Instead, she smiled up at me sweetly, gurgling shyly “You are soooo beautiful!” Completely disarmed, I thanked her, and laughingly returned the compliment, for she was indeed a little charmer in the bud.
I had a good chuckle on the way home, puzzling over what in me might have so engaged her youthful fancy. I felt that particular thrill of grace that comes when you realize you have unknowingly and uninhibitedly been an inspiration to someone. It reminded me again that what people see in us is often completely inexplicable, and not at all what we believe we are projecting at any given moment. What is it in us that incites others to envy, admiration, contempt or even passion? Perhaps, we are most beautiful when we are thinking least about it.
The simple truth is, we lose our wonder in ourselves. Somehow in the rough and tumble, the incredible distinctness of who we really are gets lost. Life defaults down into a series of familiar duties, tasks or habits that diminish us to the lowest common denominator of existence. Just making it through the daily schedule feels heroic. Actually, we are fearfully and wonderfully made, a truly gargantuan reality we take far too much for granted! All kinds of good things are happening within me and around me, but all too often, it’s easier to focus on the negative, on the gloom and doom of the unknown and the things out of our control. A chance encounter with a stranger re-orients us to the gorgeous, fragile peculiarity we carry.
Last week, I unloaded a major rant against negative behavior that has been driving me wild. I’ve had some progressive thought since regarding my frustration. If you’ve lost sight of the beauty in yourself, how will you ever see it in others? Jesus captures this idea.
Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:4-5 NKJV
It occurs to me that while people may vex us with any number of difficult traits or perverse patterns, the largest barrier we carry in our pursuit of meaningful and profound relationships is the ‘plank’ of self-hatred within our own psyche. We’ve absorbed way too much rejection, contempt, scorn, ridicule and curse in the course of everyday life to remain unscathed. Lies and hatred poison the soul, skewing our conscience, ego, and emotion. No wonder the mirror we view ourselves through is so warped! No surprise we’re so dissatisfied, drowning in self-condemnation. Sadly, we’ve forsaken our own superb quirkiness for some illusive unicorn trait we consider more precious. The actual remedy to harmony with others is loving ourselves again.
There’s an interesting question interviewers like to ask Hollywood celebrities. They pose “If you could go back and give your younger self some advice, what would it be?” The answers are fascinating, often polar opposite from what you might expect through the image they project. Some say “stress less, have more fun in the moment, don’t be such a people-pleaser; enjoy the ride”, but a very common theme is this “Relax, and just enjoy who you are. Don’t be so hard on yourself”. Considering my curious, but delightful, encounter later on, I was struck by a thought. My erstwhile admirer bore an uncanny resemblance to myself at that age. It was almost as if I had a visitation from my ageless, child-like, spiritual self who is fearless, intrepid, unintimidated, unapologetic and just plain blithely happy. She loves who she is…who she was made to be! Jesus, affirmed this delightfully through the speaking of a little one.
One of the strong words to come forward for 2019 was that it was going to be a colorful year. The Lord has placed many exquisite shades of personality and talent within each of us. He is such a lavish giver that there is enough power-juice woven in our DNA to live out ten lifetimes of talent, not just one. This is the year God is going to show you colors of your own identity you never even dreamt were there…so pay attention. There is majesty you don’t even have words for. When potentialities present themselves that make you turn your head and say “Oh, I wish I could do that”, instead of simply, fleetingly yearning, ask the Lord for it. Position yourself to receive. You might be surprised at what happens.
Remember that grand old chestnut, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. Here’s one better: “Beauty is in the eye of the Creator”. The Trinity formed us in their image, so why do we bother to argue? We are beautiful.
O my love, you are as beautiful as Tirzah, Lovely as Jerusalem, Awesome as an army with banners! Songs 6:4 NKJV
Photo by Bing