Tonight was the night of my final year college ball and it marked a landmark in my journey of self-acceptance. Traditionally, discos have stressed me out. The emphasis was always on boys and who likes who and who's kissing who... I never really felt like I was a part of the beauty contest. I was never the first choice of the girls in school and I never felt pretty, never mind beautiful.
The first time a man told me I was beautiful was last year. I didn't believe him! It took him persistently telling me, "you're beautiful", "you're beautiful" for it to sink in. My Lord says the same thing about me, "you are beautiful, my beloved, truly lovely..." and what His Word says is true!
Well, tonight I both felt and looked beautiful. It's not vain for me to say this. My security or self-worth does not lie in my outward appearance but in my identity in Christ. I was dressed in a midnight blue strapless, floor length gown that cost me a hefty £18 sterling in a charity shop in Co. Tyrone. I wore my silver Evenstar necklace (a copy of the one Arwen wears in the LOTR films) and diamond drop earrings. My hair was up and curly, topped off with a silver butterfly hairband. People noticed me!
While dancing (without caring so much what people think when they look at me) and sitting to rest I couldn't help but look at the people I have been in college with for four years. I feel like my eyes were opened and I saw them in a new light.
I saw the snob who ignored me (and I paid in kind) for four years, she was sitting down, self-conscious about her weight and wary of dancing in case somebody would pass remarks about her. For the first time I felt like I could identify with her and I felt sorry that she didn't feel free to dance.
I saw the guy desperate for a girl, any girl, to go out with during the course, he was smiling and chatting to the beautiful girl he had brought as his date and she was equally enamoured. I smiled, he looked content and at ease which was lovely.
I saw a close friend, always smiling and eager to help looking drawn and thin. I could see the strain of her relationships and sickness pulling her taut as she tried to cover up by drinking, smiling and hiding in the bathroom.
I saw another close friend, afraid that no one will accept her for who she is, admiring my ability to be myself. I told her that I was sick of trying to be somebody else.
I bless the Lord for these people. I have spent four years being critical of them, trying to avoid them and what a snob I have been. As I have journeyed into the knowledge of my identity in Christ I have seen that what is true of me (that I am loved unconditionally, that I am beautiful, that I am precious to Someone) is also true of these people and it's time I started treating them accordingly.
Teach me to love them and accept them, Lord, as You do. In Jesus' name, Amen.