I still catch myself.
Paul looks at me and says with the utmost sincerity, "You are beautiful. You are the most stunning woman I know."
I immediately think, “You have got to be kidding me.” I am in sweats, (my usual superhero wear), I haven’t showered in days, (which is not abnormal for me), I haven’t worked out in months, (literally, no excateration here), and I am make up free revealing my new wrinkles around the eyes and forehead and dark circles under my eyes from lack of sleep.
My immediate response reveals that I either,
a.) think my husband is a liar and thus I can’t hold what he says as truth.
b.) He is a manipulator and he is only saying these things to get something from me.
Neither of these options paint him a loving, generous way. Neither of these options give him the benefit of the doubt of actually meaning what he says. They are demeaning and strip him of an honorable character which then effects the way I see him the rest of the time as well.
I remembering having this first thought when I was in a Bible Study last year, and all the women in the group were having the same response when this issue was brought up. Their husband would call them beautiful and their response was to shrug it off as untrue. I never saw it in myself, but I recognized it immediately coming from them, which then of course revealed to me what I do to Paul every day.
I would have to think the worst of my husband to call him a liar and manipulator. I know he is neither of those things, and yet, why would he say those things awful, awful things to me? (Irony here.)
So the problem must lie with me. (It usually does if I am being honest. Log out of your own eye first right my friends?)
He looks at me and says you’re beautiful. My first response is to rack up my physical qualities that always fall short. I am disappointed that this is true. For all my talk and belief that beauty truly does come from within, my response reveals that there is a piece missing here for me in my own life. Beauty still somehow qualifies as outward adornment or lack there of. This is why he must be lying to me right? “Look at the outside of me” I scream in my head! “I am a mess! Why do you say such things! You are supposed to be my person of truth. The one I can count on. The one to be honest with me. Why are you lying to me!”
So I asked him one time. “Why do you always say that to me when I look my worst? It is hard to believe you.” His response?
“I see how you love our kids. I see how hard you work to take care of them and me. I see your passion for the Lord and teaching that to youth. When I see you I don’t see a mom, I see the woman I fell in love with. I see your smile. I see your laugh. I see your compassion. I see your dedication. I see the woman I love and I think you are beautiful.”
Then my response is, “Oh crap. Why does he always have to be so nice when I’m so shallow?” It sure is a nice way to be put in your place.
He sees inner beauty. He sees the stuff I’m made of, not the stuff I make up.
And the thing is, that is the way I see him. I mean my husband is a really handsome man and it’s hard sometimes to look past his outer beauty because he is a beauty, but I do see his dedication to our family, his unfailing love, his humor, his passion and love for new things and the way he loves our kids among countless other things. I have to believe that if that is the way I see him, I understand that this is what he sees when he looks at me.
So now I have a choice. Do I believe him when he calls me beautiful or is he still a liar?
I still catch myself sometimes. He says it, and I start the list. Then I stop.
My husband sees me. He sees me. And he thinks I’m beautiful.
I choose to write this tonight because I want to encourage myself as well as you that if you have someone in your life that loves to encourage you in this way, you have a choice. You can believe them or you can believe the worst of them. It is a good challenging reminder of real beauty. Of what beauty is constructed of. Of the good and Godly things in us that pour forth from the inside to transform the outside. The outside doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. That will waste away or be taken away.
Real beauty. May it transform you and your relationships.
Here is a look at real beauty. (just for fun)