It was the summer after my freshman year of college that I found myself catching coffee with someone whose names I don’t remember (I love names and names are important to me, but I will almost always remember your story before I remember your name!) But she sort of busily made her way in, out of breath; that type of arrival when you are apologetically late.
Sorry, she exclaimed as she tried to gather her breaths together in some sort of rhythm and sync, I was just meeting with the most beautiful girl.
Immediately, my mind pictured big beautiful lips and gorgeous flowing hair, lovely eyes, a tiny stature and well… beautiful, right? But then she continued…
Yeah. She’s pregnant and she’s trying to decide what to do.
HUH? I thought. Why’d you tell me she was beautiful? What does her story have anything to do with her gorgeous locks!! But then something lit up and it was a defining moment in my life. For the first time I understood that EVERYONE IS BEAUITFUL. She spoke of this girl as beautiful because she was. Was a person. Was a story. Was alive. She was beautiful just because. Because she was.
When I was a kid, in finishing up morning activities with my mom I informed her I needed to go home to change before heading to my afternoon kindergarden class (I have this faint recollection of it being something about needing to look HAWT for the Farmer In the Dell. And I think there were in fact, TWO boys I was trying to impress.) My mom thought otherwise and tried to drop me off. I threw such a tantrum she had to take me home. I got one of my three spankings in life and she put me down for a nap. My dad got home, came into their room where my mom had laid me. He asked if I had anything I'd like to share about my day. I simply responded a simple: Nope!
Their claim is that I lied but TO THIS DAY, I am confident in saying I did not lie because the TRUTH was I did NOT have anything I wanted to tell my dad. Not one bit. Nevertheless, I remember standing over my kneeling dad; he beside my dresser, my mom beside him...packing up all my clothes in brown paper bags informing me that they were going to Good Will.
KAYLEE HENDRICKSON, CLOTHES ARE NOT THAT IMPORTANT!! they told me that day. And I had one week to learn it; wearing the same outfit each day and the same PJ each night - with only a change of underwear as my only hope of self-expression.
Growing up, my mom had these super-awesome-horribly-cheesy CDs (I take that back, they were probably cassette tapes, right?) But this angel would come down and talk to kids and this angel had a choir and this choir would sing Bible verses. Sneaky way to get us to memorize scripture, I say. The melody and lyrics are still just a hand-grab-away in my brain, they ring: God does not see the same way people see. People look at the outside of a person but the Lord looks at the heart.
You guys, I wrestle with this. The outward and the inward. In my life there are a lot of times I don't like either.
I used to feel guilty for any focus on my outward, many times disliking my outward, or even shaming myself for the ugly I saw. At the same time, I took this verse so much to heart that I thought it was actually a sin to feel pretty. So I hid. It has taken me a long time to work through the fact that it's okay to like your outer beauty - God made that too!
But with my outward being sorta stuck "as is" the only hope I thought I had was to work on my inner beauty. But that was sorta ugly too, I thought. I'd work and work on it but always so very aware of those around me doing the inner, better.
But you know, one of my favorite moments on the movie Frozen is when Anna bumps up to her sister's outward beauty and says "you look more beautifuller." And whether you apply it to outward or inward, I love that word: Beautifuller
I’ve been singing that cheesy-tuned childhood song with Bella recently. We sing it and then we talk about how we can fill people’s buckets. What it looks like to share our light, our beauty - with others.
The other day, I walked into my bedroom to find that she had taken ALL of my decorative pillows and perfectly lined them up along the end of my bed as close to how I do it as she could.
I WANTED TO FILL YOUR BUCKET, she yelled.
I will worry about her OCD therapy needs at a later date. She filled my bucket. She brought beauty because she is a beauty. And I applaud my brave, fierce beautiful beauty giver! She saw a chance to share her beauty and she dove straight in for the kill.
I can actually look back now and know that the moment over coffee when I heard the sentence "she is beautiful" that as I began picturing this girl, I actually felt both jealousy and inferiority. Because I didn’t’ feel like a beautiful girl in so many ways and so I hated when I heard about beautiful girls. I sat there completely lost in this image and the feelings that flooded me within only a matter of moments of her saying the world.. beautiful. The word taunted and teased. I realize now how desperately I was aching, seeking and searching to find my own-kind-of-beautiful.
I was on a walk the other day and painted on a cement wall read: Be-YOU-tiful.
Aaaaamen. And six more Amen. All me. The outward, the inward and the sideways me. IMMA be me. And each day I'm gonna try to be even more beautifuller so as to make this world even more fuller of beauty. I'm going to find those little slivers in my day where I can jump in and create beauty and I'm going to do it.
Finding, discovering, being and living beauty. It’s all a challenge for me. But thank God someone showed up in my life to start with helping me define it. And as my days roll out, I will continue to define, re-define and then define it again. But it all starts with me being me! My own kind of beautiful.
So today, may you define your own beautiful, may you see your beauty, may you begin to be-YOU-tiful you and may we each become beautifuller and beautifuller-er in how we love and embrace this beautiful world and our beautiful life.