Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sunday Inspirations January 4, 2009

Good morning everyone! I can hardly believe we're already several days into a new year. As anyone who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (nicknamed the Mormon Church) knows, the beginning of a new year brings about a change in church meeting times, and I find myself with minutes to spare this morning before we have to start getting ready to go.

Though I've spent some time reading through our Sunday School assignment in the Doctrine and Covenants, I decided to do a different sort of inspiration today. I'm not exactly certain what I hope to get out of it, nor what I hope you will get out of it, but I've felt strongly impressed to share some insights with you that I've learned over the years. These insights have been pounded into my head through personal experience, and my recent post about the Bell's Palsy brought so much of it home again.

I have never claimed to be a beauty. A little striking, perhaps, but the large orifice sticking off the end of my face (a.k.a. my nose) has never allowed me the pleasure of living in a delusional world when it comes to my looks. I had fantabulous skin, and always loved my eyes. After several years with braces I could claim a fairly fantastic smile, and I love to smile. Then there's my hair. I spent a lot of years hating my red hair, as children felt far too welcome to make fun of it. As I grew up I learned to appreciate it so much more, but as anyone who is a redhead knows, it's not easy to find clothes in colors that match both hair and skin tone.

Then there's my body. My frame is patterned after a football player...a very short football player. My unfortunate love of everything food bad for me has added substantial padding over the years. I had times of fitness, and actually love to exercise and jog. Weight lifting was one of my favorite classes in high school, as I built up muscle quickly.

Having children seemed to have awful effects on my body from the moment I became pregnant with my oldest. Not only did I gain at least twenty pounds with every kid, but I began to develop skin rashes. I went from soft, clear skin to dry, crackly, painful splotches covering me from head to foot. Literally. I would wake up scratching in the middle of the night. My arms and legs would be covered in scabs. At times I could barely stand to have anyone touch me.

Another effect of the rashes is I struggle to exercise. While I'd feel great doing it, after was absolute torture. I can't even begin to tell you how bad my skin was after I exercised. So I stopped doing it, thus increasing my weight gain.

I'd given up wearing contacts once my prescription wore out, as I couldn't see myself putting precious dollars into something that frankly costs a lot, especially when I could see just as well with glasses. So now my eyes were hidden.

For those who read the previous post here on my blog, you already know what happened next. I awoke one New Year's morning unable to move the entire left side of my face. It took three months before I was able to make a voluntary movement. I had so much hope for complete healing, but after several months it was obvious this wasn't meant to be. In fact, as my nerves reconnected, too many of them didn't make it back to the right place. I still can't smile all the way, my left eye squints when I smile, and if I try to close my eye or raise my eyebrow, the muscles along my cheek pull up.

So, let's sum up. I've lost what little figure I had, my skin is no longer soft and clear, you can't really see my eyes, and my smile is not my smile. I'm sort of waiting to see what happens to my hair. It's the only thing left I can call pretty.

Here's where we start to see the lesson I've learned over the years. First, beauty is fleeting. This is never more obvious than to those who never really had it in the first place. Is it nice to have? You bet! In a perfect world we'd all be stunningly gorgeous. Even when we have it, there's no guarantee it'll stick around.

Second, sometimes giving up the things that help make us beautiful is for the better, at least for a time. I rarely wear makeup, as my skin reacts afterward. I would love to begin exercising again, yet I am aware it's not in the cards at least until my youngest can watch me "Walk Away the Pounds" without having fits. This is not to say I shouldn't take advantage of any chance I have to exercise, but for the most part I realize it's more important for me to attend to the welfare of my children, and that's okay. It's also okay for those who are able to find time to exercise (and congrats to you!).

Third, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It's trite, but it's true. My children think I'm beautiful. My husband tells me how beautiful I am several times a week, and when he looks at me in a certain way I know it's true. I think of those people who are the most beautiful to me, and none of them would consider themselves even remotely pretty, which leads me to...

Fourth, beauty is not just skin deep. Some of the least attractive people in the world become breathtaking when another person bothers to look past the outside. A kind and compassionate heart, a willingness to serve, the incredible gift to bring light and laughter into the lives of others can make the plainest person beautiful. We miss out on so much when we allow the outside shell dictate who we will get to know, and I have known many an attractive face that covers a selfish heart.

Last, and perhaps this is a lesson just for me and what may lie in my future, but one doesn't feel beautiful until one is told he or she is beautiful. Perhaps through learning beauty is more than what is on the outside, one of my missions in life is to help those around me feel as though they truly are beautiful.

I would encourage you to look at those around you, to see more than what is on their outside, and to say what you find to be most beautiful about them.

1 comment:

allan and alysha said...

I just have to say... WOW! I know this is just blogging, but you are a very talented writer. I too have some of the same physical issues after having kids. It has left me with very low self- esteem and reading your post made me feel better, thanks for that:)
I hope you don't mind if I subscribe to your blog.