I was really shocked. I imagined Philip entering the school store, the shelves completely bare, not one silk rose, chocolate or the other regular “my mom is…” gift in sight, the only mom gift left is my plaque. He picks it up, reads it, horrified, puts it down. Glances over to sadly watch a lucky boy buying the last silk rose. Looks around one more time, there’s nothing else, its his only choice, so he reluctantly picks up the only mom gift left, my plaque, and slowly goes to the register to make his purchase.
My opinion isn’t a fair reflection of Philip. I know he is very conscientious of his actions, particularly in choosing gifts for people he loves; such as when he went to every ( no exaggeration) jewelry store looking for the perfect necklace for his girlfriend. He is not an impulse buyer.
Despite my ugly attitude, the plaque has become one of my most cherished possessions. It was given to me during a very trying time between us. While we left his abusive father when he was very little, poor Philip was still visiting his Dad and he’d appropriately been acting out. I struggled with making the “right” decisions, wanting him safe without breaking a bond between father and son. In retrospect, I know his Dad broke that bond, not me, but being in unfamiliar territory, nothing felt right.
The plaque conveyed I was heading in the right direction. My mother always said, “Pretty is, as pretty does”, which never made sense to me until I looked upon that plaque. Beauty is an action, a reflection of Christ’s love and sacrifice. It reminds me of Jochebed, Moses’ mother. The sacrifice she made to keep her son alive, the faith she had in God when she put him in a basket, and her joy when Pharaoh’s daughter called her to nurse her own son. Bee..utiful!
I learn so much from my children. This week Autumn reminded me I still have work to do. When she referred to herself as “ugly”, I told her it was really annoying when beautiful women refer to themselves as ugly. Autumn preached it right back to me, inquiring why don’t I think I’m beautiful? Busted!
Why is she so smart? It really hurts when I’m hit with my own stick.
If I want her to be a confident, beautiful woman; I need to model it. I realize I didn’t say become it or believe it…I also note that I totally disregarded the possibility that Philip was referring to physical beauty. Change is never easy; it just feels wrong.
I recall a Lutheran Women Today bible study that encouraged women to compliment one another. Its been years so sadly I don’t recall the actual study. I think the verse was 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “encourage one another and build each other up…” I remember it felt strange to go around the room and share what we appreciated about one another. I ‘m sure I sounded pretty goofy sharing my thoughts but regardless of how they were said, the thoughts were true. I just wasn’t comfortable expressing them. Years later I share just about every positive thought I have with my beautiful sisters of Christ. They flow naturally. I can’t even imagine holding them back.
It might have been the same study or another bible study that prompted me to stop arguing with people trying to give me a compliment. Please believe me, I’ve improved greatly. Now, I usually just look stupid. My mouth falls open then I close it before I say something stupid. I’m also really good at changing the subject, telling a joke or turning the tables. Which is exactly what my daughter did. So I will keep working on whittling down this gigantic board in my eye. I believe the next step in accepting compliments is learning how to say a simple “Thank you.”
But I’m still avoiding. Autumn wants me to acknowledge my own beauty, my son gave me a physical reminder, my husband tells me I’m beautiful. We’re in search of the greatest truth, love. I know I matter to God. So why is this so hard? It’s not like I haven’t done this before. I’ve answered this question. When I was a teen, I shared that I thought I had long eyelashes. The Bible leader corrected, saying it just looks like I have long lashes because my eyebrows were so bushy. OK, her comment didn’t scar me for life. It was actually pretty funny then and now. I’m stalling.
If I was to step aside and look at myself as a fellow sister in Christ, I’d think I had pretty eyes. I’d love my hair. I think women who have the courage to leave an abusive relationship are brave, therefore I guess I’m brave. And I think all courageous women are incredibly beautiful. So OK Autumn, I guess I’m pretty beautiful! Thank you for spurring me on. Thank you Philip for my plaque. I love it and I love you for giving it to me.
Thank you Lord for chopping away at that board. I am bee..utiful! Prayerfully I’ll say it one day without crying.
Share Sisters of Christ: Share your stories of beautiful women you admire. And SHOUT (type) out “I am bee..utiful!”