My husband thinks I'm beautiful.
And I've responded to his compliments in a myriad of ways. Most of them not positive. Some of them have gotten me words of reproach and sad looks.
But I'm trying to change. Accept Tim's compliments. Believe that he thinks I'm beautiful. Play with the idea that there is some beauty in me. That he's not totally crazy. His words make me smile. Sit a little straighter. Try a littler harder.
I've never thought of myself as pretty, let alone beautiful. I have too many freckles. An overabundance of gray hair. A few too many pounds. And wrinkles are beginning to etch themselves around my eyes. The list of complaints about my body goes on and on. There's more I'd change than keep the same.
But I'm trying. Exercising regularly. Eating better. Reminding myself that real beauty shines from the inside out. (That's what my mom has always told me.) Walking more confidently.
And Tim is cheering me on every step of the way. Walking with me early in the morning or on Saturday afternoons. Telling me how much he appreciates my efforts to take care of myself. Telling me I'm beautiful. When he does, I forget my negative thoughts, and smile, saying simply "Thanks." I'm learning to live in the belief that my husband thinks I'm beautiful. Glimmers of belief cause me to think, Maybe there's something pretty in me after all.
One night as I thanked God for a husband who sees beauty where I can see none, I was stunned by the revelation that Tim's love is a reflection of God's. An example. And if I can learn to accept Tim's love-colored vision and attempt to live in it, then maybe I can do the same with God. Believe His love. Accept that He sees me as perfect. A woman capable and gifted. The thought of me brings Him delight (Isaiah 62:4) and causes Him to break into song (Zephaniah 3:17).
I don't see it. I see the sin. The selfishness. I can't seem to die to self. My will is weak, my courage faulty. Too many times I feel inadequate, incapable of accomplishing anything important. No gifts.
No talents. Just a very messed-up person. Nothing delightful. Ugliness-real and imagined.
But His love makes me perfect. It's nothing I've done. I'm forgiven. Being changed. The completion promised. No reason to feel guilty anymore. No reason to focus on the sinfulness. God wants me to focus on the Perfecter instead.
He longs for me to believe that He sees me as capable. And when He gives me an opportunity, I shouldn't beg Him to find someone more able, more adequate, more spiritual; I should believe that He who knows what needs to be done will make me able. That victory is ensured because of the One who calls, not the one who answers.
Learning to live what God believes about me is hard. What I've believed about me all along is so ingrained in my thinking. It's who I've been. But I continue on, eating up His words of love and delight for me found in the Bible. Memorizing them. Repeating them. Exercising my faith by stepping out of my comfort zone into the opportunities He gives. Believing that He will accomplish what He has called me to do.
Basking in His love. Letting it fill me up. Warming me like the sunshine beating down on my face. Saying "Thank You. I believe You." And really meaning it. Sitting a little straighter. Smiling a little more often as the thought of His love penetrates my mind.
What about you?
God thinks you're beautiful. Capable. Gifted. Perfect. He knows that all He calls you to do, you can do. With Him. You are His delight. His treasure. The apple of His eye (Psalm 17:8).
Are you living in that belief?
Tamyra Horst is communications director for the Pennsylvania Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. She is a wife, mother of two sons, speaker, and author of Ratty Bathrobes, Cranky Kids, and Other Romantic Moments.