(Photo courtesy of April Bautista Garcia)
Hello! My Name is Beautiful: A Testimony
Have you ever looked in the mirror – examined yourself, and walked away disappointed? It’s something we’ve all done from time to time – if we’re honest with ourselves. For some of us, it is a daily habit.
We are bombarded with messages on TV. Magazines. Movies. And, all over social media, telling us again and again of the ideals of feminine beauty. We are also being overwhelmed with the wonderful new products we can buy to cover our flaws and otherwise enhance our features. Even the dolls most of us played with as little girls had flawless faces and perfect bodies. I remember imagining myself grown up and looking like the beautiful fashion doll I loved. But, of course, real life has been much different!
In the Song of Solomon, chapter 4, verse 7, we have a wonderful message from God: “You are all together beautiful, my love. There is no flaw in you.” When King Solomon wrote these words, he was speaking of his beloved bride. But he was also reminding us of how our God sees us! As believers and followers of Jesus Christ, who have been forgiven and made new by His death on the cross and His resurrection, we are beautiful in His eyes! God sees each of us as beautiful and worthy of His love. John 3:16-17 tells us just how much He loves us. And continues to do so.
God is much more interested in the beauty of our hearts (who we are inside) than our physical appearance. He wants us to get to that point too. Sometimes, He allows things to happen in our lives that will help us realize that physical beauty just isn’t that important anymore.
About five years ago, I was diagnosed with an aggressive cluster of small tumors, growing within the right side of my face and neck. I had extensive surgery, followed by radiation treatments. For two years afterwards, the right side of my face was paralyzed and drooping. The radiation had damaged my gums and I started losing teeth too. I hated the way I looked, but I was alive! I survived what could have killed me if it had gone farther.
During this time, I was continuing therapy with a Christian Counselor for the effects of Childhood sexual abuse. I was also completing several deep Bible Studies with a recovery group at my church. More and more, I felt this urging within me to write my story – my testimony of what my Savior, Jesus Christ did for me. Forgiving me. Healing me from some of the effects of the sexual abuses of my childhood. Helping me grow closer to Him. Healing some of my relationships….many things! Working in me….and on me too. But there was one big problem – in my mind, anyway. I was afraid of the reactions of the people in the audience when I began to speak. There has been a great deal of improvement in the muscles and nerves of my face, but the damage is still obvious. My pride was a big part of my not wanting to speak in public. But God was still giving me that “nudge.” And I heard that still, small voice reminding me that it wasn’t about me. And how I looked. It was about the message God wanted me to share with others. It was about gratitude. And faith. And the power of the love of God.
So, I have given my testimony of redemption and spiritual and emotional healing four times now at different churches. God has blessed me in many ways since I have been obeying His call. I have had continuing improvement in my facial movement. And, the tumors have not returned! He continues His work within me spiritually too. The most important thing is that I know I am loved even more than I can imagine. And He, my Savior, my God, says I am beautiful in His eyes.
Most people have been very kind to me, too. Recently though, I was surprised by a group of young teenage girls who were pointing at me and laughing while I was enjoying some tea and a snack at my local coffee shop. I was on the other side of some glass, and they must have thought I couldn’t see them. Or didn’t care if I did. All of a sudden, I was that young girl again. Feeling ashamed of how I looked. Not good enough. Not pretty. Wearing the wrong clothes. I felt ugly. I admit, I wallowed in that mucky pit for a little while, feeling sorry for myself. And anger arose too. But then, I remembered whose child I am. And that He calls me beautiful. And beloved. That the One who loves me, saved my soul. And my life on this earth. And I began to feel grateful again for this path He has given me. His calling to help other girls and women who are hurting inside because of what was done to them as children. That hurt can also cause them to hurt others in various ways. So… I pray those teenage girls will find hope and healing for their own hurts.
Please, do not allow the opinions of others and their hurtful words and actions destroy you inside. You are worth much more than that. You are beautiful because the One who made you says you are! Psalm 139 is a powerful message, written by King David, long ago. Verses 13 & 14 say, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” You are loved. And you are beautiful!