What a joy it is to welcome Lizzie Husum to the blog this morning, sending a bit of her story all the way from Herning, Denmark. I met this lovely friend just over a year ago in Dundee, Scotland; we were both studying English, and we shared a love of travel and music, poetry and faith.
Lizzie radiates community; her desire to connect people and inspire them in all things friendship and peacemaking is so evident-------not only through her role as leader of the Nordic Society on Campus, but also in personal, day-to-day encounters with those around her. I have been so blessed by her friendship, and I'm thrilled to post her thoughts on 'beauty' for you all today.
The first time someone used the word beautiful to describe me I was twelve years old. I don't remember if I was wearing a particularly nice dress, any make-up, or if I had even been laughing aloud. My dad had used the word beautiful about my mother for years, whether she'd been covered in sweat and dust from a hard day's work, or wearing an elegant dress for a celebration. I re-read beauty in the many novels I had never fully understood when I was little girl. I read about poetry, see a painting, or hear a song and think that it was beautiful. And that always seems to be the only word that matters, doesn't it? Whether something is beautiful or not? Even before I fully understood what the word meant, I already had a hunger for others to call me so.
I read about beauty in magazines, providing secrets, lotions and food that seem to promise me a definition of beauty, delivered in a growing vocabulary of synonyms: gorgeous, elegant, sexy, pretty. We think about inner beauty, outer beauty, about how to think you're beautiful as you are, about how to change yourself so that one might think that you are beautiful----society is definitely very keen on telling us what this definition means although no one seems to quite agree on a single definition. We all look up at the same starts, and yet, we see such different things.
Beauty is defined by the dictionary as "a combination of qualities, such as shape, colour, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight." It is simply about seeing something and liking it.
And I ask: Why does the world focus on only what the eyes can see? What of the heart? Of the mind?
If I see a painting with many colours, floating into each other in an abstract world, I am immediately drawn to it. But not everyone else around me is. They look at the paintings I find ugly. But I'm not staring at this ambivalent painting because it is beautiful. No, I'm drawn to it because it makes me feeling something.
When I read a new book----the kind that makes you stay up late into the night despite the fact that the hours tick away at sleep, it is not because the book is beautiful. I do not cry because it is pretty. Sometimes, the story is the exact opposite; it can be so ugly and horrific and I still find it poignant.
My friendships are not based on looks. When I met someone and we grow close, it is not because they're beautiful, skinny, or even the opposite to make myself look and feel better, it is because I see something in them I recognise----something I connect with. Something that makes me feel something more than just the normal small talk. We shouldn't focus on external beauty all the time; our whole beings should be seeking something a little bigger than that.
Isn't it more of a treasure when we find someone who wants to hear about all that things that spiral around your thoughts rather than someone who simply likes the look of you. I'm not saying beauty doesn't matter because it obviously does. All I'm saying is that we don't have to let it become the centre of our universe.
Let's comfort the little girls who cry themselves to sleep at night because they do not fit into the teeny, tiny, impossible box we've created to hold our definitions of beauty. Instead, let's help them focus on what sets their souls ablaze. Let's listen to them talk of passion & talent and learn to follow them there.
Not all girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice. Some girls are made of adventures, fine beer, brains--no fear. Honour the differences rather than making people think they need to look the same as everyone else. Diversity is one of the most beautiful parts of life. It is the reason we feel something stirring deep within when we see, touch, hear, and taste unconventional beauty.