*This may be a new idea for some of you, and some may not agree. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section!*
A while back, I spent some time as a volunteer, helping take care of a bunch of kids in a nursery-type setting. As I played with these sweet little babies and toddlers (they were all delightful), I noticed a few children that I thought were especially adorable.
One day, another volunteer struck up a conversation with me. “Look at little Liza!” she said. “I cannot get over how cute she is!” [Name changed. I don’t remember her real name.]
I turned my gaze to Liza. Honestly, I was at a loss for words. This was not a child I had noticed as being one of the outstanding “cute ones.” She had not made my list, and I didn’t have an enthusiastic agreement on my tongue, because I had failed to notice her much.
I wasn’t going to contradict a statement like this, because, of course, all children are cute. So instead, I slowly nodded in agreement, and began watching the little girl with new eyes. I tried to see her as this volunteer did.
With this renewed vision, I soon recognized her unique beauty, and was quite struck by it. Knowing that someone else thought she was special changed my perception of her (or perhaps lack of perception, in this case).
Then it hit me. God views each person as special and beautiful. Their features are His handiwork. Their image is a reflection of His.
The way the volunteer admired Liza, which caused me to see her differently, is the same way God admires each of His creations.
When God created mankind, He said this was, “very good.” He makes each one on purpose.
As a scanned the room, a sense of instant conviction washed over me for the “beauty judgements” I had made among these precious little people. I saw the pridefulness within my own heart that lead me to think this was my determination to make!
I realized in sorrow that with each “have” I had identified in my own mind (regardless of whether or not I commented), I was inadvertently categorizing many other children as “have not’s.”
A positive “judgement” was not much better than a negative one at the heart level… Not any better.
Although this potentially forgettable experience happened a long time ago, the resulting reflection and effects it brought into my life linger.
They’ve changed how I talk and think about people.
Now, when I look at children, or anyone, I enjoy and appreciate their unique features. I choose to see that God has made them beautiful and valuable, not “better” or “worse” than one another (as society or culture would influence us to believe).
I will still comment that a child is cute, but I no longer do this in a way that singles him or her out from a crowd, insinuating that the others are not so much.
Rather, I take a heart-position of praise to God for how He made a child (or grown up) as an individual, with equal readiness to do the same for every other one. I appreciate his or her unique features and looks. No comparison needed.
And celebrities on TV? I’ve decided not to make beauty judgements about them either. Because, while they may never know or be directly effected by my opinion of them, it does affect those around me –not to mention my own heart.
SIDE NOTE: Can we mar the body God has given us through poor choices or sin or neglectfulness or lack of self-control?
Yes, I think we can. I believe we are responsible for caring for our bodies and cultivating the beauty God has put there for His glory. This is not what I’m talking about. Rather, I’m talking about appreciating the way God made a person –the things about us that aren’t ours for the changing.
So often, the lens through which we judge and evaluate beauty is faulty. It is a culturally-invented thing. What one culture considers beautiful, another does not –all around the world and throughout history. Think about African tribal women who intentionally elongate their necks. Or the Chinese tradition for women to bind their toes back until they fall off in pursuit of smaller feet.
Beauty is culturally-determined. But there is a deeper truth about beauty.
Each person is God’s workmanship: an overflow of HIs loving, creative, relational nature –an overflow of His goodness, and a perfect fit to His eternal plans and purposes.
So, what would it mean for us to loosen our grip on our own beauty judgements? –to consider that we might not be the best judge, and to choose to see people as God does?
How would it change our view of others? Of ourselves? How would it change our children’s view of themselves as they watch us recognize and celebrate the goodness of what God has made, rather than judge and rank it?