Monday, March 21, 2011
Beauty Sees What Beauty Knows ~ Part One
We see beauty in others in direct proportion to the beauty we enjoy in ourselves.
I have a friend I think is gorgeous. Just absolutely beautiful. She radiates elegance and is strikingly lovely. When I am with her I always find new things about her to admire and enjoy. But I have to say I am actually using the word 'friend' loosely because as much as I love her, she can at times be incredibly painful to be around. She says some very hurtful things to me and others. It has been something that completely perplexed me until one day I was specifically mentioning how beautiful she looked in a photo to her. Her instantaneous reaction was to pull away from the image of herself.
And unexpectedly, I was flooded with compassion. No wonder, I realized, if she is so repulsed by her own self how can she possibly appreciate beauty in other people? How could she even see it, let along treat others with the self-respect she herself lacks? It gave me, sadly, grace for her treatment of me.
We think we see beauty around us to the extent that we appreciate it. But in actual fact we see beauty in others in direct proportion to the extent that we see it in ourselves. Minimize it and so will we. Our lives, heart and vision will shrink. That makes it serious business. The verse instructing us to 'love your neighbours as you love yourself' is not meant to be theoretical. It's actual. Practical. Real.
As parents, as spouses, as friends we will not just live smaller lives, we will also replicate those blind spots of not seeing. Knowing beauty in ourselves is, yes, a very individual process - fraught with false starts and potentially deep hurts or derailments from those who were supposed to see it in us first, and teach us to see it, too. But catalyze it we will - wittingly or not.
I've always been drawn to people who are comfortable in their own skin. Magnetized by people - and particularly women - who see themselves as lovely (even while aware of their own quirks and genuine limitations.) Women who are in touch with their bodies. Women who know when they are hungry, who sleep when they are tired. Women who treat their own bodies kindly and not as something to plow over, ignore or control. Women who state their needs and find no shame in being their own unique version of beautiful are an endless fascination - and hope - to me.