How complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness. – Leo Tolstoy
People Magazine has the highest advertising revenue of any magazine in the U.S, and a readership of over 45 million. A few weeks ago, the annual 100 Most Beautiful People list was published.
By beautiful, they mean physically. They make that clear, because they also have a list of those who are pretty, but have a crooked nose, big thighs, etc. Yep, they really do.
As I listened to the radio personalities discuss the individuals who made the list, I couldn’t help but ask, “What is Beauty?” As I drove across town, I made a mental list of the most beautiful people I know.
In the Land of Tara, a list of the world’s most beautiful people would read more like this:
1. This beautiful person became pregnant in high school, and was a single mother very young. She knew she was more than her circumstances. She faced the fear of returning to school to get her GED at age 30, graduated with a bachelor’s degree, and is now working on her master’s degree. She sings with the voice of an angel and blesses others with it. She is true beauty.
2. This beautiful person believed she deserved nothing because she was treated like nothing. After a childhood of pain and abandonment, she married a man who claimed to be a man of God. Instead, he abused her. She found the strength to leave and is growing, changing and finding her true voice, and it is Beautiful! She is the picture of grace and maturity in the face of despair. She is true beauty.
3. This beautiful person stays in a marriage that is a daily battle for peace. She is determined to love him on his journey, and does it with her eyes wide open. She has learned to love him while taking good care of her own heart. Her decision is to stay, and she knows she could leave. Her ability to be transparent, and tell the truth without running, is astonishing. She is honest about her pain without being disparaging of her husband. She is true beauty
4. This beautiful person lived for nearly two decades in the pain of sexual addiction. He withdrew his big heart from a world that needed it. In choosing to expose his brokenness, he chose the the road of vulnerability and healing. He chose to love himself, tell the truth, and understand his true identity. Now, he helps others do the same. He is gentle and strong. His patience and compassion are unlike any other I’ve known. His soul is truly beautiful.
5. This beautiful person has a little girl who doesn’t quite fit in. This woman loves her daughter with a white-hot, mama-bear passion, and her heart shatters each time her little one is excluded by peers. The most beautiful thing is, this protective, watchful mama was excluded, forgotten, and dismissed as a little girl, as well. Just for different reason, but she changed the pattern for her family. She became the connected, observant parent for her child when she never had one. She is true beauty.
6. This beautiful person has suffered a pain that no one should ever know. She lost her precious little girl at three weeks of age. Out of her own tremendous pain and loss, she reaches out to others to comfort their hearts. She received membership access into a club that nobody wants. The Grief Club. She is able to care for others who are hurting without re-injuring them for lack of knowledge. She is the poster child for grace and empathy. She is true beauty.
7. This beautiful person saw more death and loss before graduating from high school than most people see in a lifetime. She stood up for love when those around her said it would send her to hell if she did. She knew love would win, even when the loudest voices were screaming otherwise. She is deeply loyal and a fighter. She is true beauty.
8. This beautiful person’s felt the consequences of her choices made out of pain when she lost her job, husband, and home in one fell swoop. She was forced to look at her own depravity in the bright light of exposure. This woman met her own shattered heart head on. She took every step of her journey back with a determined focus and intention we would all hope to have. She is an inspiration. She is true beauty.
9. This beautiful person loves others as close to what God intended as I’ve ever seen. It didn’t start out that way. He got his girlfriend pregnant at 18. He was a very young man who now admits to making many mistakes while trying to find his way on this big planet. Now in his 40s, he has a gift for seeing another’s heart that can cause even the most aloof to expose a crack in their façade. His gentle, bold way of loving a person EXACLTY as they are changes who they are. His soul is truly beautiful.
10. This beautiful person married a man who lied so often and was so good at it, she learned not to trust herself. If she pointed to the problem, she became the problem. She did not want a broken family, but found that with or without the marriage, her family was broken. She journeyed deep into the most painful places of betrayal, and came out learning to love herself. She is true beauty.
11. This beautiful person grew up in a home filled with abuse, neglect, and denial. As a young woman, she was betrayed by her pastor in the worse way a man can betray a woman. He used her, body and soul. She struggles to trust a God when those who represented Him did such a terrible job of it. But even her struggle is beautiful. She desires to understand God’s true character and love with her whole heart. She is true beauty.
12. This beautiful person married into a blended family. Very blended. Racially, geographically, and culturally. But she loves her step children (and the mothers of her step children) with intention and purpose. She fights for the hurting when others stop fighting for them. She loves when the person seems unlovable. Her heart is so big, it’s a wonder how it fits in her tiny body. If you want a tender warrior on your side, she’s the one. She is true beauty.
These are beautiful people. Inside and out, but you don’t need a photo to know that. Each of these amazing people are friends of mine who gave me permission to share a bit of their stories with you. THEY are the beautiful people. They are the individuals that live stories of hope, compassion, and love. They are the walking evidence of beauty.
Part 2, coming soon.