Sunday, July 31, 2011

The answer is yes (a post on a follow up question)

I wrote a post this week about being single. It's a tricky thing to write about because it involves head and heart, because it is about God and me and me and guys, it is messy and confusing.

But I discovered in the midst of writing the blog post, and struggling to know what else I might want to say about it, that there is a question that often accompanies the question about dating, that maybe you are wondering, too.
(Photo: Hannah Cochran)
The scene: I'm standing in front of the mirror getting dressed for dinner. It is our last night at this conference in Baltimore and we are supposed to dress in our finest - jackets and ties or the appropriate equivalent (and I don't know what that means, exactly). I turn on the music and pull my green skirt up over the grey lace top - the pieces of the DC Thanksgiving I spent with Hannah at the JCrew in Georgetown and Pentagon City Mall - and turn toward the mirror to put on some makeup.

And a question looks back at me as my hands hover between my eyelids and the sparkly green eyeshadow. Am I worth it?

I make small circles of shadow across my eyelids and feel my lashes flutter against my palm. I don't quite know why I'm putting on makeup, since I gave it up back in March, but the familiar ritual is comforting in the face of that question. I keep getting ready, pull down my lower lids to scrape an eyeliner pencil across them, blink twice, fluff my hair, and stare into the reflection.
(Mandie Sodoma, sindisiwe photography)

I might as well take a lipstick and write, "Am I beautiful?" over the whole week. I see the question in the eyes of the guys I meet, and the girls I meet, in light of the hot July sun and the cool shade of the bench by the bay. I think about it when I stare at my feet in my new Toms shoes or I catch a glimpse in the one-way mirror of the door that opens to the rooftop balcony of our hotel. And I think to myself, will my eyes ever catch up with what my heart hopes is true?

Maybe you wonder about this question, too. Whether you are single or married or dating or even somewhere you aren't sure about - maybe you get ready for a dinner party and look quizzically at yourself. And you hear the question - am I beautiful? am I worth it? from the far corner of the room.

If you are looking for the answer, if you (like me) search deep in forgotten newspaper piles and magazine covers, if you wander unkempt garden paths barefoot, if you close your eyes and exhale and peer around the corner... it's yes.


It's not a "yes" because he looked at you for an extra thirty seconds over his dripping water glass or he winked at you when he passed you the butter. Not because she responded to your email in only a day and it was full of the most interesting questions. Not because another person tells you they are jealous of your... {fill in the blank}. Not because they kiss you. Not even if they grab your hand walking down the beach late one summer night and you think, this is it, or they see you from two or two thousand miles away and say they just can't stop thinking about you.

It's yes, you are beautiful because you were courageous enough to ask a question in class. Because you listened without thought to time or to-do list to a person who needed you. Because you held out your hand with a small winged prayer you didn't believe He could hear. Because you laugh. Because you hear it: the wild call to live now, to run barefoot, to eat gelato, to stare into the eyes of an icon of the Mother and Child, to write the stories inside you.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14.27)

So, if you asked this week, or on this Sunday morning, for the answer to that question, if you looked for it behind aviator sunglasses and wine and running?




  1. Absolutely lovely, Hilary. I wish I'd read this 15+ years ago.

    "will my eyes ever catch up with what my heart hopes is true?" --most days, yes, and yet I often remind myself it's not because of what someone said or did. It is because I was created fearfully and wonderfully in God's own image. And He never screws up.

  2. So wonderfully said, so full of deep truth. Thank you for writing this. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for the reminder.

  3. very beautiful Hilary.

  4. Gorgeous. The writing reflects the beauty of the writer.


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