Wednesday, March 5, 2014

You Don't Know You're Beautiful

While assembling Legos, my seven-year-old nephew has been known to break out singing, “You don’t know you’re beautiful,” the words to the popular song by One Direction.  Of course, he doesn’t fully understand the meaning of the words. But, more importantly, do we comprehend that this simple statement, “You don’t know you’re beautiful,” applies to us, also?  Do we recognize to the depths of our beings that we are truly beautiful?

If we are beautiful, what makes us so? Is it charm, attractive appearance, the latest fashions? One of the most beautiful people to have left her lasting imprint is Blessed Mother Teresa. Now to look at her, you might wonder, “How could this shriveled, bent over, unassuming, little woman be considered beautiful?” She certainly is not physically attractive. Yet if we look into her eyes, we see a luminous beauty that radiates outward.

What is that beauty she radiates? Is it something unique to her? Is it something we wish to possess? While we dimly reflect this beauty at times, it is a beauty we are all capable of possessing; a beauty that comes from our human nature that we are all created in the image and likeness of God (CCC 41, CCC 1700).  And in a very particular way, we possess this beauty when we are baptized, having Christ live within us (CCC 1, CCC 1997).

Naturally, this has many ramifications. It is personified in the picture of Pope Francis kissing the severely disfigured man. It is how we treat one another. And how do we treat one another? Do others know we are Christians by our words and actions (John 13:35)?

When I would really like to repartee unkind word for unkind word, do I pause to reconsider? Sure that person gets under my skin, irritates me to no end, drives me bonkers, doesn’t know what he is talking about. . .! (Ahh, you can feel the temperature rising!) I should say, “I allow that person to get under my skin.” Do I want to engage in the same low base name calling that too often people engage in in the comment section on some websites and blogs? It makes someone pause to wonder if people understand civility. Unfortunately, it is too easy to hide under a pseudonym and not take responsibility for one’s words. Unable to intelligently discuss or argue the issues and facts, they attack one another’s dignity.

Choosing my words carefully when responding to another’s comments is just one of many opportunities for me to practice the art of charity to others. There is that person who cut me off while driving. Without question, I have a few choice words I would like to use. What about disciplining the child who refuses to cooperate and sasses back? When I am running behind and feeling the pressure of getting to an appointment on time, he brazenly announces, “I don’t want to get my shoes on?” I could get angry and read him the riot act or stay cool and let him suffer the consequences of his choices.

Beauty creams, tummy tucks, and sparkling diamonds promise women a dazzling beauty, but for a true beauty that radiates from the inside out, we can heed the words of Blessed Mother Teresa, “Do something beautiful for God.” This may translate into thinking about how our words reflect our minds, hearts, and souls.

Read the rest on Catholic Exchange, Feb. 26, 2014