Friday night a gigantic spider, with teeth the size of quarters and legs as fat as french-fries crawled into my bed and bit me. I never saw her, but Saturday morning I felt the bump under my eye where she had claimed my face. I don't know why she chose to snack on my face in my sleep, perhaps a spider I murdered recently was her brother. There was a spider in the shower who was not staying on his side of the shower and when his movements made shampooing my hair in peace and closing my eyes AT ALL an improbability I really had little choice but to send the itsy-bitsy-spider down the drain. Maybe the news of his demise got back to his older sister and she came for revenge. I'm told older sisters can behave that way.
Being bit by the bugger would have been bad enough, but did she need to feed near the eye? My right eye has now swollen up and my appearance is like that of a boxer. When the doorbell rang this morning I fully expected to see Rocky Balboa on my doorstep ready to challenge me to a match for the Title. I know that as women we are bombarded by images that press messages of beauty into our minds and it is started as such a young age, it is difficult to separate the truth of who we are from what we look like. They seem so linked that when I wake with an eye that is slightly swollen I cannot look in the mirror without my eyes being drawn to the puffy place on my face. It doesn't belong. I know my face as a part of me and this is not me. But, today, it is me. I can tell people, "This isn't how I look! This is a spider bite!" But, today, this IS how I look. Today this IS me.
Braylee is a very precocious kindergärtner living in the Midwest with her Dad & Mom and her older brother and two younger adopted Haitian siblings. She says something hilarious almost daily and her Mother shares it with the rest of us via Facebook. On one day her mother asked her the question we've all asked our adorable sons or daughters as some point,
"Braylee, why are you so cute?" to which Braylee responded,
"Because God made me this way and it's really none of my business."
I was struck by the depth of this answer. It is our creator who makes our physical being. We know that He chooses to shape us by the genes that are woven together. Children know this, we teach them this in Sunday School. But what struck me was her ability to confront the bigger issue. He isn't looking for our input on the matter. He didn't ask us ahead of time for a consultation on the matter.
Granted, we need to take care of this body. We should stretch its muscles and exercise the heart. We should nurture it with good food, laughter and rest, but to obsess or to worry is not only ineffectual, but it is really none of our business.
The foundation and the structure of the outward is nothing in comparison with the heart. You all know this, it's nothing new to be told that beauty comes from within, but strangely, even knowing this we still long for all that comes with the beauty that the world has told us is valuable. Recently, someone commented to me that she loved how I always did my make-up. She said that she noticed that I always had it done when I was out and about. I had to tell her I wasn't sure that was a good thing. When did I hear the message that my value and my competence was tied to my appearance? When did I claim hold to the belief that I better look good--because that may be all I have to offer?
The things we say to ourselves are so mean. The meanest girl you will ever know may be in your own mirror. I know the meanest girl I've ever known looks at me with my puffy eye and tells me terrible things. She doesn't value what is happening on the inside, and she knows that there are good things going on in there. She is the most critical girl I've ever known--but only to me. And while she's unkind to me, I realize that God made her, so I know she can learn to love me.