Devotion: Wednesday, January 13 – “You Are Uniquely Beautiful”
There is so much going on in our country right now that it can be overwhelming and we can forget how personally important we are to God. Don’t get swallowed up in the turmoil, rest in the lap of the God who calls you by name and loves you without end.
Psalm 139:13-14: “You alone created my inner being. You knitted me together inside my mother. I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made.”
Elizabeth Ellis grew up in the Appalachian Mountains. Listen to her story: When I was a kid about 12 years old, I was already tall, and I had a lot of freckles. I had reached the age when I had begun to really look at myself in the mirror, and I was underwhelmed. Apparently my mother was too, because sometimes she’d look at me and shake her head and say, “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”
“I had a cousin whose name was Janette Elizabeth, and Janette Elizabeth looked exactly like her name sounds. She had a waist so small that men could put their hands around it ... and they did. She had waist-length naturally curly blonde hair too, but to me her unforgivable sin was that she had a flawless peaches-and-cream complexion. I couldn’t help comparing myself with her and thinking that my life would be a lot different if I had beautiful skin too – skin that as all one color.
“And then, in the back pages of Janette Elizabeth’s “True Confessions” magazine, I found the answer: an advertisement for freckle-remover cream. I knew that I could afford it if I saved my money, and I did. The ad assured me that the product would arrive in a “plain brown wrapper.” Plain brown freckle color.
“For three weeks I went to the mailbox every day precisely at the time the mail was delivered. I knew that if someone else in my family got the mail, I would never hear the end of it. There was no way that they would let me open the box in private. Finally, after three weeks of scheduling my entire day around the mail truck’s arrival, my package came.
“I went to my room with it, sat on the edge of my bed, and opened it. I was sure that I was looking at a miracle. But I had gotten so worked up about the magical package that I couldn’t bring myself to put the cream on. What if it didn’t work? What would I do then?
“I fell asleep that night without even trying the stuff. And when I got up the next morning and looked at my freckles in the mirror, I said, “Elizabeth, this is silly. You have to do it now!” I smeared the cream all over my body. There wasn’t as much of it as I had thought there would be, and I could see that I was going to need a part-time job to keep me in freckle remover.
“Later that day I took my hoe and went with my brothers and cousins to the head of the hollow to hoe tobacco, as we did nearly every day in the summer. Of course, when you stay out hoeing tobacco all day, you’re not working in the shade. And there was something important I hadn’t realized about freckle remover: if you wear it in the sun, it seems to have a reverse effect. Instead of developing a peaches-and-cream complexion, you just get more and darker freckles.
“By the end of the day I looked as though I had leopard blood in my veins, although I didn’t realize it yet. When I came back to the house, my family, knowing nothing about the freckle-remover cream, began to say things like, “I’ve never seen you with that many freckles before.” When I saw myself in the mirror, I dissolved into tears and hid in the bathroom.
“My mother called me to the dinner table, but I ignored her. When she came to the bathroom door and demanded that I come out and eat, I burst out of the door and ran by her, crying. I ran out to the well house and threw myself down, and I was still sobbing when my grandfather came out to see what was wrong with me. I told him how I’d sent for the freckle remover, and he didn’t laugh – though he did suggest that one might get equally results from burying a dead black cat when the moon was full.
“It was clear that Grandpa didn’t understand, so I tried to explain why I didn’t want to have freckles and why I felt so inadequate when I compared my appearance with Janette Elizabeth’s. He looked at me in stunned surprise, shook his head, and said, “But child, there are all kinds of flowers, and they are all beautiful.”
“I said, “I’ve never seen a flower with freckles!” and ran back to my room, slamming the door.
“When my mother came and knocked, I told her to go away. She started to say the kinds of things that parents say at times like that, but my grandfather said, “Nancy, leave the child alone.” She was a grown-up, but he was her father. So she left me alone.
“I don’t know where Grandpa found it. It isn’t at all common in the mountain where we lived then. But I know he put it in my room because my mother told me later. I had cried myself to sleep that night, and when I opened my swollen, sticky eyes the next morning, the first thing I saw, lying on the pillow next to my head, was a tiger lily.”
Rest today, children of God. Rest today in the arms of God. Let the turmoil, chaos, and fears fly by your head like a passing breeze. Rest in God’s arms. Know God made you, and that you are wonderfully made, and he loves you just the way you are.
~ God bless, Dan