I don't know if you need to hear this today, but if you are like me and you ask almost every mirror - from the hotel bathroom to the rearview to the elegant gilded one in a museum (to the one in the most gorgeous bathroom ever when you were at the Nutcracker) - if you are beautiful, I wanted to write to you. I write to you if you fear the answer, or if you are cynical and jaded and you've already decided that you know the answer. I wanted to write to you who thinks this question is old and the answer boring. I wanted to write to you, you specifically, because I wish for nothing more than unlimited hours and peppermint mochas and Heath bar cookies and you and me in this life together.
I want to write to you because this is a question that lingers and in the last days of Advent I want to welcome the light. I wanted to shed a little light on us as we journey.
|(mandie sodoma creative)|
You are beautiful. You are beautiful because of the brave things, and the obedient things, because you are honest and you step out beyond what is comfortable. You teach other people what beautiful means by how you listen to them - on long car rides or rushed whispers. By how you write words to them - in five minutes or fifty hours. By how you smile across the room and wink to let them know they're not invisible.
You've done that to me, so many times. You look over and smile. You wait for me while I cry in coffeeshops. You stop me in our doorway when you can tell I'm not happy with how I look and you grab my hand and say, "You look wonderful." Just like that. Do you know how beautiful that is?
I've been quiet about this over the past few weeks, about my own struggle with believing this. Maybe you are wondering if I can say it because I'm so confident of it in myself. I bet you dismiss my words, saying to yourself, "Well of course she can tell me this because she believes it!" And how I wish that was true. But each one of us wonders if we are and none of us trust the answer. And with my friend Rilke, I want to reassure you in his words... "And if there is one more thing that I must say to you, it is this: Don't think that the person who is trying to comfort you now lives untroubled among the simple and quiet words that sometimes give you pleasure. His life has much trouble and sadness, and remains far behind yours. If it were otherwise, he would never have been able to find those words."
I find the words for this letter to you because I don't always live this answer. Because when I look into my heart to prepare for Advent I find this lie growing there. The lie that says it's never pretty enough. The lie that says what God loves isn't what someone else loves and so what's the point?
What a question, dear reader. What a question. I won't pretend it doesn't have power. It grows and twists around my heart and yours. It sneaks in under doors and yells out of mirrors and whispers through the tear-stained longing for it to be different. But I will tell us both that it is not as powerful as the truth. It is not bigger than that gift. It is not the end of the story.
I tell you, you are beautiful, because words are what I have and because I hope that this Christmas you hear a different story. The one that ends with Love. The one where you and I see ourselves in the light from that star over that stable and suddenly, we hear:
|(Jessica Fairchild Photography)|
My wondering, confused, hopeful heart wanted to be sure you heard it loud and bright.