This tale is so dear to me. I remember being a child and very strongly identifying with it. I remember hoping that maybe, just maybe, I’d turn into a beautiful swan one day too! You see, as a child I was called “ugly” a lot by my boy classmates. Actually, I’m sure I wasn’t told it anymore than half the other 5 or 6 year old girls by our 5 or 6 year old boy classmates. But being the sensitive little girl that I was, I not only believed them, I let it define who I was. I remember crying to my mom about it. As we grew, I heard the taunting less and less…. but then, one day, at about age 12 or 13, one of those boys told me again that I was ugly! (Who knows, I was probably picking on him or something!) So after quite a long time of not hearing it, hoping that maybe I was outgrowing my “ugliness”, my heart was shattered again, and it was reconfirmed that that’s just who and what I was… ugly!
Not only that but I was the typical middle child in my family of 6 kids… different, dancing to my own tune, a little rebellious, a lot sassy. And I felt different from everybody. Of course, what I didn’t realize at the time was that we WERE all different from each other and still are! No one was the same…. but somewhere along the way, I decided I was the odd ball (though, again, most of us would claim “odd ball” today!).
It wasn’t that I was necessarily uglier than the other girls in my class, or that I was actually the “black sheep” of the family…. its just what I decided in my mind that I was. I take full responsibility for my reaction! In many ways I grew to LIVE for the praise of others!! I wanted to be reaffirmed that that’s not who I was! Whether it was in my performance on the basketball court, in a relationship with a boyfriend, through my good grades, good musical ability, or just by being so nice that you couldn’t not like me. Everything became a cover… a shell. I so desperately wanted to portray that I was a beautiful person inside and out!
But that’s just it. It was all a portrayal. I remember laying in bed and thinking at night that if my friends or family really really knew who I was, they wouldn’t love me for me. They just loved the outside Katie!
Don’t I sound melodramatic? Actually, it all kind of was. But at the same time, that’s just who I was, and it makes up part of my story. As I’m sitting here typing this and thinking about it though, aren’t we ALL given that message at one time or another in our life? Either we’re not good enough, you know none of us are as beautiful as the women on TV, we’re not talented enough, we don’t have what it takes. We’re the odd one out. Honestly, if I sit around and listen to all those loud messages screaming at me through our media or society, its not very hard to start letting those thoughts overcome my thinking again.
But I have to say that today, I am the ugly duckling who grew into a swan! NOT because I’m beautiful physically, NOR because I’ve accomplished this or that. It has nothing to do with what I’ve become, how I look, or what I’ve achieved. It’s so much more simple than that. I just came to believe and trust that I am who God, in the Bible, says that I am. And let me tell you, when you actually believe it, not just hear it and think “that sounds nice”, but actually take the words personally as applying to you (because they do), it is revolutionary! Let me show you:
Psalm 139:13-18 “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You.
God tells each of us that we are “wonderfully made”. He formed our every part… mind, body soul. And every last thing about us, from our shape, to our hair color (sans highlights! ), to our nose, to the sound of our voice, and the things that excite us… they were all created exactly according to His divine and perfect plan. I know we don’t all believe this, but hang in here with me a little longer.
If you can look at even your fingers and see the intricate design of them… the knuckles, the fingernails, the way they move independently, yet work all together, isn’t it almost crazy to believe they came into existence by chance? What great design they are! Doesn’t design echo of a designer? Just like my illustrations echo that someone created them? If you just would consider “what if” this were all true… what if you were purposefully, deliberately, wondrously created… Again, I know we all can’t swallow this, but at least try to think hypothetically. IF each of us was created unique and on-purpose the exact way we are, and our Creator calls us lovely, calls us wonderful, calls it good…. isn’t that something to change our whole perspective? Our lives? Wouldn’t it be AMAZING to know every part of you (body and soul) was deliberately thought out and planned?! Who cares what man or woman say! The Creator of the farthest galaxies looks at little me and calls me beautiful (and you beautiful). Not only that, He thinks about me more precious thoughts than there are grains of sand on this earth (and you). What GREAT love!!
Can you believe those words are said about you? I don’t know if you will choose to, but you sure may! They were penned for you and I!
Think about that.
Seriously. Take some time today just to ponder on that.
It won’t just change the way we think about ourselves, it’ll change the way we live, love, work, play, parent, and so on!
I so love you guys. Thanks again for hearing my wandering thoughts….
All that, from a simple drawing inspired by a familiar fairy tale.
By the way, this tale was written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1843 in Copenhagen, Denmark. It is his most famous story. And he claimed it as his personal autobiography!
Hugs and hugs!