True Beauty

For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. – Jesus, as quoted in Luke 6:45 Berean Study Bible

I don’t remember when I first became aware of my physical appearance and began comparing myself with others. It may have been when I started school. Yeah, that early.

In first grade I wore my hair in braids.

When other girls came to school wearing nicer clothes than I had, my hand-me-downs seemed shabby and cheap.

By the time I was in third grade, my inferiority complex had taken root. That was the year I decided to cut my long, silky, straight hair and get a curly perm like the prettiest girl in class.

Well, what looked nice on her did nothing for me, except make me look like a poodle. I hated it! Lesson: What works for others may not work for you. Know thyself and be thyself.

That was the year I got glasses. Another item on the growing list of things about myself I detested.

And I always had to sit up front because of my hearing loss. I hated it! I was a marked child, labeled forever as “hard-of-hearing.” I despised that phrase! And I loathed myself.

I remember resting my head on my desk, closing my eyes, and envisioning myself in heaven, where I’d see without glasses and hear perfectly well. My hair would be long, straight, and silky once again. And I wouldn’t wear hand-me-downs.

I hid well my inferiority complex throughout my school days. It was only when I got my first job after college and could afford contact lenses and new clothes that I began to blossom.

But those attempts at bettering my physical appearance were rooted in my deep-seated feelings of inadequacy. I didn’t overcome them. I simply changed my outward appearance, hoping to measure up.

But when we’re using the wrong measuring stick, we’re going to get the wrong readings.

Eventually I learned the standard of true beauty isn’t what we see on the outside, but what we are on the inside.

“Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him,” God told Samuel the prophet when he went to anoint the next king of Israel. “For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 ESV).

What we are on the inside determines our true beauty or lack of it.

“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart,” Jesus taught, “and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of ” (Luke 6:45 NIV).

Whatever fills you inside will eventually makes its way outside. It will overflow to do good or harm. It will leak out in unguarded moments.

I like the illustration I recently read about a person balancing a filled-to-the-brim cup. Unfortunately she tripped, and the contents spilled over on whatever was nearby.

What are the contents of your cup?

Love, peace, joy, contentment, compassion . . . these are the good things that will spill out.

But anger, resentment, jealousy, bitterness, hatred . . . these things are like a caustic poison, eating away at your insides and destroying your life and relationships.

You have a choice over what resides inside your heart, mind, and spirit.

Remember the story of the old Cherokee and his grandson?

“There is a battle between two wolves inside us all,” the old man told him. “One is Evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies, and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, and truth.”

two-wolves

“Which wolf wins?” the boy asked.

The old man quietly replied, “The one you feed.”

Purify my heart, O Lord. Purge out all that displeases You and replace it with good. Then remind me to feed the right wolf. Amen.

Read and meditate on Luke 6:43–45; 1 Peter 3:3–4.

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

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