A few weeks ago, I pulled up to Dutch Bros and immediately felt something I truly hadn't felt since my diagnosis: envy. The Dutch Bros girl was adorable! She had a trim little waist, lovely face and...BEAUTIFUL flowing hair, all blond, curly and everywhere. Seriously, this girl had Disney-princess hair cascading down to her waist! She was truly beautiful. I ordered drinks for me and my boys, feeling glaringly bald and pudgy and kinda mad about it. I was tired of feeling bald, tired of wearing the evidence of my disease everywhere I went, tired of trying to convince myself I wasn't super bummed about the way I looked. Feeling self-conscious seemed so shallow in the face of all that my family was going through and in light of all that God was doing for me. And yet, every time I looked in the mirror, all I could see were my scars, my naked head, the extra pounds that the darn steroids gave me...I definitely didn't see anything beautiful in that reflection.
The cute Dutch Bros girl snapped me out of my pity-party as she handed me my drinks. I tried to give her some money, but she smiled and said, "Nope, this is on me tonight." I asked her why, and she simply kept smiling and said, "Have a blessed night."
I drove away feeling very put in my place and truly blessed. That young girl's beauty didn't come from her Rapunzel-hair; it came from her sweet spirit. I felt a glimmer of God trying to show me something as I drove on to a night of worship at my church. That night, the worship band led us in singing "Beautiful Things." The chorus goes: "You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of dust. You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of us." God was reminding me that his definition of beauty is so very different than mine.
I'm not going to pretend that ever since that moment, I have stopped struggling with self-image issues. I still grapple with the changes that my body has undergone these past six months. But I am starting to understand that the truly beautiful part of me is my spirit. The apostle Peter tells us, "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment...instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight" (1 Peter 3:3-4). Now I don't think Peter means that I should never be loud, which is fortunate for me, since I usually have a lot to say. I do think, however, that a gentle and quiet spirit is one that has learned to be completely dependent on the Lord and not shakeable by passing circumstances. And this is truly a lesson that God has been teaching me. I have felt more and more peace and comfort from the Lord that defies my circumstances, and- according to scripture- that is what the Lord finds beautiful in his sight.
I know that my hair will grow back, the reconstruction surgery will hide some of my scars and I will (hopefully) lose the weight. But I pray that my "beauty" will always come from what the Lord is doing with my spirit. For those of you who struggle with this too, I pray that you will begin to see yourself as God sees you. He sees you as one he has fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalms 139:14). He delights in your unique qualities and is thrilled when you do things that make you look more like him.
Thank you lovely Dutch Bros girl for reminding me that it is not how we look but what we do that truly makes us beautiful.