1 Samuel 16:7
English Standard Version (ESV)
7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
I love that God finds my beauty on the inside and not on the surface. Sometimes it’s not a pleasant experience to look in the mirror because time is not forgiving and gravity takes it’s toll. Some people are blessed to have a good genes and they retain their figure and youthful look but for most of us, it’s a daily struggle to be one of ‘the beautiful people’.
Often, a thought builds in my mind and I feel led to share what ends up becoming a full article. Sometimes, I am fueled by outrage at a current event and have to address it immediately. There are times though, where a subtle conversation or comment shared in passing is repeated over the course of time. When this happens, I know I have received a prompting from God to share what He is revealing to me.
I spend some time, not by choice, at the dermatologist several times a year reversing sun damage in the hopes to prevent skin cancer from surfacing. As a teen, I spent hours soaking in the sun as I tried to obtain a golden tan. Unsuccessful in most attempts, I would end up suffering from burns and the resulting peels that revealed only freckles and no tan. Unfortunately, I never learned and repeated this process so much over the years that now I have to reverse the damage that took years to build. Frequently, the damage to cells in your body take place years before the evidence of the resulting skin cancer can be seen. I’ve been told that typically, the length of time from initial damage to visible results can span ten years. I think there’s a lesson to learn here….(besides the obvious of avoiding sun damage). How long does it take for damage to reach the surface?
In casual conversation, I mentioned to a friend that she has flawless skin and she looked really great. After thanking me for the comment, which was genuine admiration, she clouded for a second before she said that my compliment made up for years of feeling ugly because she couldn’t tan. She was always more pale than her friends and didn’t feel like one of the “beautiful people.” I can relate because I’m so pale that I can literally blind people from the sun’s reflection off my skin. I felt immediately humbled to receive a glimpse into what had been years of suffering that my friend had experienced. In her case, she has emerged as the recipient of flawless and youthful skin because she avoided the sun. The feeling of beauty is only skin deep though because the feeling of inadequacy runs deeper than the surface.
Later, the same week, I was talking to another friend and somehow the conversation turned to her years of feeling invisible. In her youth, she had been heavier and always felt as if she was completely invisible to the world. As she matured, she lost weight and became more comfortable with herself so that people started noticing her. The attention she received could have easily gone to her head but she knew that regardless of what she looked like, the real person could only be known from the inside out. She said it was eye opening to see that people want to associate with those they perceive to be beautiful, so much so, that sometimes it’s hard to know who your real friends might be.
How many other people feel like this? How many neighbors, co-workers or relatives are suffering from what lies below the surface? If it takes ten years for some skin cancers to surface, how long does it take for emotional scars or feelings of inadequacy to become apparent? How many people do you know who are suffering in silence? Are you someone who has a hidden hurt? It’s such a comfort to know that there is One who looks past the surface and not only knows the real you but who can also hold and heal those secret scars. God knows you and He loves you! Psalm 139:13 New International Version (NIV) says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” How awesome is that! Not only does God see you and know you, He is the one who created the inner most you. He formed your soul and knows your secret thoughts and painful past. Turn those hurts that you have held on to for years over to Him and let Him free you from long held feelings of inadequacy.
“For man looks on the outside but God looks on the heart!”