by Michelle Wilson
I was looking across some photos the other day, and came across a picture of my mom when she was a young mother.
She is in her pajamas, no make up. And yet, she is beautiful.
I see her humor in the slight curve of her smile, and the kiss she saves for me in the corner of it.
I see truth and conviction behind her dark eyes. She knew who she was- a daughter of God, and taught me to believe I was, too. I see sacrifice under her eyes, from time spent caring for her kids rather than sleeping. I see virtue, kindness, and most of all, love in her face.
She is beautiful.
And not a stitch of makeup.
I like make up and hair product. They polish me up. They're also easy to hide behind. I sometimes wonder if I had an airbrush if I would use that, too. But, beauty- real beauty- isn't what is outside, but inside. We've all heard that, right. But most of us still wear makeup.
Heck, I grew up in the eighties and nineties with dark make up and giant hair. They were my shield, and my glory. As I matured, the compliments grew. I'll admit, I liked it. So much so that I began to depend in it. It got to the point, in my early twenties, where I wouldn't dare be seen without makeup or my hair done. Then a deeper problem began to grow. My sense of self became attached to the compliments given. If they told me I was pretty, than I was. If they didn't think I was, the I must not be. So, I tried harder to be pretty in their eyes, because I wanted to be pretty in mine. I even went to a modeling agency once. They told me my features were plain and "too soft" and I could stand to lose thirty pounds. I weighed 120 back then. I didn't feel pretty that day.
Then I met my husband. One of the first things he said to me was, "You're pretty on the outside, but that'll fade. What's on the inside?"
I was shocked. Wasn't my Cher-worthy hair good enough for him?
Thankfully, it wasn't. For the first time in my life, I had to look at my inside completely dependent from my outside. There was some good things there, dare I say a lot of good things. I was kind, loving, helpful, smart and funny.
(What?! You say. Is Michelle really complimenting herself? I am. And you should, too. To not acknowledge the good thing inside of you is an insult to God, your creator, who gave you those things. There's more about that at the end of this post.)
I was pretty good in the inside. I realized, though, that I had spent more time fussing and nurturing and polishing the outside that those good things within.
So I started focusing more on my insides. What did I really believe? How did I really behave? What did I really want? How strong was I really? I launched a search to find all my weaknesses and faults- something had I tried to hide my entire life. And when I found them, I turned them over God, and with Him, tried to make them stronger, or even disappear.
I learned more about God and my Savior, and tried to become like Them. A pursuit which is nearly entirely internal.
I worked on, and am still actively working on what is inside. And I will for the rest of my life.
How grateful I am for my husband's priorities. He did, and still does, look for what is in me. I'm so glad, because my outside is changing. I'm 41. The gray hairs are sprouting. Skin is sagging. The bags under the eyes are appearing. The single-digit pants are gone. I'm not a fan of any of it. But, I really, really like what's in me.
This is my mother again. I just love her. And this is me, as I write this post. No make up. Hair air-dried with no style. Bad lighting and a messy room. Yep- that's me.
And I'm totally ok with it.
In fact, I think I might resemble my sweet mother. At least, I hope I do.
But I hope, most of all they will see love.
I love God. I love being His daughter. I love my husband. I love my children.
And I love me; outside....but especially in.
Who I am makes me feel beautiful.
Society tells us we need to look a certain way, wear certain fashions, to be beautiful. They tell us we should love who are, but then is up in arms when we one of us stands up and says, "I think I'm beautiful."
That happened to me once.
I was in a group of women. The subject of loving yourself came up. One woman asked, "Do you feel pretty?" One by one the women said, "Oh, no. Not me. I'm just me. I would never say that."
When it came to me, I said, "Yes, I do." You would have thought I just admitted to a heinous crime! They took my remark as arrogant and conceited. They clutched their chests and wore looks that screamed "We don't say things like that about ourselves. Real women are burdened with guilt, insecurity and self-deprecation."
Well, I still struggle with guilt and insecurity. I even self-deprecate sometimes.
But, I still feel pretty.
I don't feel pretty because of my outside. That is mostly out of my control, and is fading fast.
I feel pretty because my of what is in me: the DNA of Deity. I strive to have His image in my countenance. How can that not be pretty - even beautiful?
That's what I see in that picture of my mother. That's what makes her beautiful.
Perhaps the most beautiful part of it all, is that that is what makes you beautiful.
Make up or not. Messy house or not. Trendy or not. Believe it or not. You are beautiful, too.