A Different Beautiful by Courtney Westlake
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14 (NIV)
I sat my daughter, Brenna, on her changing pad as I snapped up her outfit after a diaper change. And as she looked around, chattering, her eyes fell on my feet, with toenails painted in deep pink.
“Ow?” she asked, associating the color with blood and a hurt toe.
“No, not Ow. Mommy put a pretty color of paint on my toenails,” I explained as best I could in toddler language. I showed Brenna my nail polish bottle, as she pointed to herself. “Me!” she exclaimed.
I had really never even thought about painting Brenna’s nails, which are a product of a rare skin disorder she was born with. They grow in such a solid, thick yellow there have been times we’ve had to trim them with side-cut pliers.
I didn’t know exactly how her nails — thick but sensitive — would react to polish. I worried about the polish getting on her skin and causing an adverse reaction. But as her bright blue eyes begged me to open the bottle, I said enthusiastically, “Yes, let’s paint your nails!”
As I carefully applied the pink color to her two big toenails, Brenna leaned over my arm, watching intently. “Wow!” I exclaimed as I dabbed a final spot, waiting for her reaction.
“Wooo-ow,” she whispered slowly.
Two brightly colored toenails, one on each foot — and the admiration that followed as she held up her foot in the light streaming from the window. The kind of admiration that made five minutes of painted toenails come to life in a celebration.
I slowly realized the beauty we were creating in those minutes and in the moments that followed as she proudly showed off her pretty pink toes for the next week, extending her foot to nearly everyone she came in contact with. Even if she wore shoes, she knew how beautiful they were underneath.
It had nothing to do with the polish or the color.
Rather, it was all about how she felt about herself. The way she felt as we painted together — loved and special. The way she felt around others — admired and engaged. Brenna felt beautiful because she was living in joy, in celebration, with those around her.
Since Brenna’s birth, simple celebration is what we have discovered for ourselves, in and around some very hard parts of life. In the whirlwind of four years, there have been things you’d never expect to experience when you bring a child into the world.
But with that has come a joy-filled life we also never expected, the kind of overwhelming richness that’s beyond comprehension. Even on the worst days, we can find beauty.
Beauty extends from all pieces of our lives, just waiting to be noticed, appreciated, celebrated. And what our family has discovered is the best kind of beautiful — the truest beauty that God intentionally and lovingly created for us — is not only seen, but also felt.
The most dazzling beauty in this world is not found in magazines or even seen in the mirror. It is felt deep within our souls, and it is released to those around us in the forms of love, kindness, compassion and generosity.
In a version of myself I can hardly remember, I once believed beauty was something to strive for. But there is a different beautiful than the perfection our culture often worships. That beautiful is found not when we open our eyes, but rather when we open our hearts.
There is a whole new kind of beautiful to be discovered when we stop closing our eyes and our hearts to what is unfamiliar or unexpected. When we focus on the goodness we are feeling rather than seeing, we can learn what it truly means to celebrate beauty in life — the joy, the passion, the deep relationships with each other and God, plus the dazzling, fleeting moments in front of us that might not otherwise cause us to pause.
Like painting with pink nail polish.
Dear Lord, thank You for the glorious way You have brought beauty into this world. Help me embrace true joy, contentment and faith. Open my heart to those around me and empower me to demonstrate the love, kindness, compassion and generosity You’ve given me to share. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 Peter 3:4, “You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” (NLT)
REFLECT AND RESPOND: Can you name two or three ways you can demonstrate true beauty to others today? © 2016 by Courtney Westlake. All rights reserved.
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