If beauty is in the eye of the beholder…why don't more of us behold beauty?
I have a friend who used to regularly greet me by saying, "Hello, beautiful!" This was often accompanied with a smile and hug, and I knew she meant it. I would not say that before that I had a bad self image but something about hearing that word associated with me on a regular basis gave me the extra push I needed to really see what she saw and to celebrate the beauty I beheld in the mirror each morning.
The thing I learned was not that I didn't need to be active, eat well, and consider what choices I make to feel better and look better. But I learned that most of what I see is up to me. That is true about all kinds of beauty. I sometimes look at crumbling buildings around town and see a beautiful image of use and life in community. Sometimes I see the opportunities for renewal which are also beautiful, new life just waiting to be embraced by someone with the vision to see other possibilities.
Lately I have had a number of conversations about how amazing it is to meet someone who believes that they are beautiful. The self esteem debate has been going on a long time. So what are the things that make for a self-confident person? I have been giving this a lot of thought, partly because I really do believe I am beautiful and mostly because I see so much beauty in the people and the world around me that is dismissed. It is hard to know how to help friends and others see beauty in themselves – beauty that is so evident to me. So the struggle isn't how to see beauty but how to help one another see it in ourselves.
As someone who is fortunate enough to see beauty when I look into the mirror and in those around me I wondered about what makes me different? I had a friend ask me what I thought had produced my embrace and happiness with myself. After some reflection, I think that my parents gave me the most by celebrating who I was becoming, reminding me that God made me just the way I was, and by loving me regardless of the awkward growing phases and the fluctuations of health, weight, and activity. I have never doubted their love for me and the value that they believe I have as a part of God's creation. That is VERY important because things like guilt, fear, shame, and distrust seem to lead many of us to places of self-destruction, secrecy, and harmful cycles of bad habits.
There is plenty of information that is included in the "nurture" debate. But my parents weren't the only ones…friends who went out of the way to let me know they appreciated me and valued my presence in their lives gave me so much as I learned what it was like to be loved and cared for. I have been fortunate to have people in my life that made it a priority to share their love for me in overt and subtle ways that proved to create a foundation for loving acceptance of myself and the beauty that is all over the world!
I don't know how to reproduce the things that I feel have given me the openness to see beauty in myself and others except for each of us to remind those around us of their beauty and works to change the way of beholding one another as we recognize all that is beautiful, valuable and loved!
"Kindness in words creates confidence. / Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. / Kindness in giving creates love… / Perfect kindness acts without thinking of kindness." - Laozi, 570-490 BCE