Not when I was dressed in a tutu for a dance recital, not on picture day, not even on my Wedding Day. Not only did I not feel beautiful, I felt far from it. Like, impossible.
But on a recent trip to Jamaica, all of that changed for the first time in my life.
This was my first trip to Jamaica, and I spent the day before in tears consumed with guilt. I was leaving my kids and husband, and I felt bad about it. It simply felt wrong to get away for a few days with friends.
And the guilt stopped right about here – when my eyes met the beauty of a crystal blue sea and sandy white shore. I was overwhelmed with awe. It was beautiful.
Pretty soon the locals began approaching us, and they would greet us with the word “respect” along with a fist bump, handshake or a high-five. We would reciprocate and say the word “respect” back to them.
It struck me how that was such a powerful greeting. It set the tone. It made me relax knowing I was respected, and it made me respect them. What if we greeted each other with a fist bump “respect” instead of sizing each other up, making assumptions, holding back, pre-judging etc. What if our minds were stuck on “respect”?
Several times, I heard “You are beautiful” from both men and women. “You are beautiful, Mon.” Somehow, it started sinking in.
I even saw it on a painting of a blue butterfly that had the words “I love you” written on it as it flapped in the breeze. I heard it as part of natural conversation. Imagine a place where people say “Respect” and “You Are Beautiful” to each other over and over.
I didn’t pack a hair dryer or a flat-iron for the trip. I put on mascara once. I was a hot mess, and yet this is where I heard and believed in the hollows of my heart for the first time:
“You are beautiful”
God knew the cry of my heart, the longings I dared to utter.
He knew all of my life long thoughts of “if only”. If only I were a little bit taller. I wish my legs were smaller. My toes are so short. My natural brown hair looks like mop water. If only my skin were silky smooth. If only I didn’t have moles. My 3 c-sections scar – enough said! I could go on from head to toe, but I think you get the point.
I kept hearing “You are Beautiful” on this island with puffy hearts in the clouds!
The gentleman selling his paintings on the beach said to think about the room you will be putting the painting in, and let that guide your eye. We just recently painted our bedroom gray and with all of the vibrant colors my eyes were steady on the gray and white ocean picture. Another gentleman saw me looking at it and picked up a bright blue one just like it and said, “I like this one.” I agreed and went back to looking the gray picture. He said, “You are beautiful.” I replied, “I have three kids” to which he replied, “I have two boys” and we continued to look at the paintings and talk about our children. A few minutes later, I walked away happy and beautiful with my gray painting.
On my last night there, I yelled from the back seat to Barry, our cab driver – “Guess what I learned in Jamaica?” He said, “What, Mon?” I smiled as I said, “I am beautiful!” He said, “What, Mon? You didn’t know that? You didn’t know you are beautiful? You are beautiful!”
I said a little lower, “No, I didn’t know.” and I could have just cried.
Imagine a place ~ a paradise ~ where respect and beauty surround your entire being. Two words colliding in deep places painting a new tapestry of truth in your soul.
Go there now in your mind and hear these words – “Respect, You are beautiful!”
all of your roots
all of your gray
all of you
You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.
Song of Songs 4:7
Listen, and let it sink in. You are beautiful.
You are treasured, You are sacred, You are HIS.
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