He said I was ugly, and for a moment I believed him.
Harsh? Or Just Plainspoken?
Though I wasn’t used to being called such words, I wondered if I had simply been spared the truth. Surrounded mostly by family and close friends, I considered that maybe their familiarity with me kept them from seeing what others so plainly did. Or if their love kept them from telling me.
I thought of this man I had recently come to know, who would talk to me only when no one else was looking. I recalled asking him to attend an event in a nearby city. His blunt reply: “You want me to be seen with you in public?” I thought of a particular day when he had blurted out that the sight of me disgusted him; that I needed to lose weight, fix my hair, etc.
But even though the words wounded me, I had tried to be logical about them. Maybe I wasn’t pretty. Maybe the way people had treated me in the past had been a lie, a common courtesy that was engrained in them since childhood. Maybe this man was speaking the truth, and as hard as it was to swallow, I wondered if I simply should do just that. After all, he was much better looking than I. He could have passed for a model. Compared to him, I was slightly overweight, had some slight blemishes, and didn’t possess the self-confidence he did.
Though his words were like daggers to my heart and the rejection had stung worse than a thousand bees, I decided, simply, to accept them. He could find much better friends. I stepped away.
But even though I did, the words wouldn’t leave my heart. Now, as I looked at people around me, strangers in the stores, on the streets, I wondered if they held the same thoughts he had; the same beliefs. After all, they had eyes, didn’t they? Why would they want to get to know me? Why would anyone be drawn to someone with the flaws I possessed?
And then, slowly, reality dawned.
Beth. Tony. Me.
I thought back to Beth, my friend from high school. I remembered how blessed I felt that she considered me her best friend; how amazed I was that other classmates weren’t gathering around her in flocks. I had never met anyone like Beth. Fun, witty, standing firm in her faith amid peer pressure, open and vulnerable in a refreshing way. It seemed that I saw her differently from the way many others did. Though some teased her, others gave her no more than a quick “Hey” while heading to their class. But I felt that in her I had a treasure worth more than gold.
Then there was Tony. Tony, with his handsome face and insecure feelings. I had met him in church, and we had clicked almost instantly. I soon discovered he was far different from what he appeared. Although to many women he seemed self-assured and handsome with a charming way about him, to me he was like a child, seeking help, wanting answers to life, insecure. When he spoke in lowly terms of himself, I couldn’t help but stare at him in shock. He was one of the most charismatic people I had ever known, yet he couldn’t seem to see that in himself.
The list goes on. People I’ve met who later became my friends that others sometimes looked down on or who looked down on themselves, I saw as jewels on a crown. Again and again I felt beyond blessed to have them in my life, though they didn’t see themselves through the same lenses.
How God Sees
And I realized, too, that that is how God sees us, sees me: “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7, NKJV).[i]
As humans we all too often see things only on a surface level. We’ve been programmed to evaluate exteriors and look down on someone based on that. Yet the truth is that what’s unattractive to one person may be quite attractive to another. Hence, when looking for self-worth, when trying to figure out if you’re really of value, it can be confusing—unless you have learned to find that truth in God.
You don’t need to go searching for value in another person’s approval. Listen to what God says. God says what matters is the heart, that your value lies not in the outer but the inner. Traits of compassion, love, and humility are what make you beautiful, not simply pretty hair or perfectly manicured nails. No matter what anyone says, the truth—your worth—isn’t in your clothes or your hair or your perfect figure; it’s in Him. And if to Him you’re beautiful, then that’s what matters most.
I met a woman one time who I thought was gorgeous. Tall with thick blonde hair and a slender figure, a person much sought after. But her personality soon overshadowed her looks a thousand times over: mean, bossy, and unkind, there was nothing that would cause me to want to be her friend or know her better.
On the other hand, I have met others to whom I am drawn intensely, based not on the outside but on their heart.
No matter what harsh words you may have heard about yourself, remember: the only truth that matters is what God says. And He says He loves you, flaws and all.
Your God values you infinitely, dear reader, purchasing you at a very high price (1 Cor. 6:20). You can believe with confidence that you are precious, no matter what anyone says.