Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A different kind of before and after

This past week has been one of a great deal of reflection for me. Part of that was natural: I had a birthday, on which I turned 46 years old. I am now officially closer to 50 than to 40. Believe me, that'll get you to thinking.

Part of my reflectiveness, though, came from a preoccupation with decorating my house. As August gave way to September, I was consumed with the desire to change the look of our home--to go from the breezy, cool look of summer to the warm, cozy look of autumn. In addition, Sarah at Thrifty Decor Chick hosted a "Before and After" party, inviting her readers to share photos of some of their transformation projects. And today, Jen at Sanctuary Arts at Home is having a "You should have seen it before" party. Apparently a lot of us like to see befores and afters.

Somehow, the convergence of these events got me to thinking about the "before and after" pictures of my life. It's a subject that intrigues me on several levels. On a purely physical level, I'm fascinated by before-and-after pictures because I have some pretty dramatic ones myself. You see, I was the ugly duckling in my family. I was one of three girls. My two sisters were both beautiful girls; they both looked like my mother. And I? Well, I looked a little like my father, but mostly I just looked like myself. And that was not a very pretty picture. For instance, here's a photo of me when I was a junior in high school. This is not one of the horrible pictures. I was actually pretty proud of this picture. It appeared in the local paper. Me and a couple of trophies I'd won at a speech tournament.



Or here's another: my junior class picture.



"Sweet 16 and never been kissed"? Are you kidding? Sweet 16 and never been considered by a boy. My high school years were successful in some ways, but certainly not in the boy department. I never had a single date in high school. Not one. Senior Prom? Not for me.

But it turned out that I was just an ugly duckling. I wouldn't say that I grew up to be a beautiful swan, but I did grow up. And my looks changed. I wasn't expecting it to happen; it just happened. I'll admit that attending my 20th high school reunion was a sweet time for me. My classmates even voted to give me the "20 Years Have Been Kind to You" award.

And while I have no keepsake pictures from the Prom, now I have teenage boys of my own, and I can have my picture taken with them all I want. Like this one:



My heart aches now when I see a high school girl who's not one of the pretty, popular girls. I want to pull her to me, dry her tears, show her my pictures, and tell her that it's not over.

And I think that sometimes this is how God feels about us. When He sees one of us suffering with the state we're in, I think He wants to pull us to Him, dry our tears, show us His pictures, and tell us that it's not over. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11). I hear God saying, "Don't worry: the way things look today is not the way they'll always look." And I know it's true.

Unwrapped with Emily at Chatting at the Sky

25 comments:

Dawn said...

now you have made me cry.
such beautiful words written from your heart. oh what those jr. high/high school days can do to a young girl's mind! so glad that you have made peace with your own thoughts over the whole matter :) i hope your birthday was wonderful!

Stacie said...

Amen, from one never-went-to-the- prom sister to another!

Thena said...

It's sad what girls will go through these days to be popular. I was another one of those that never went to a prom. We were raised in a strict pentecostal home so we definetly weren't one of the popular ones. But looking back we were the richer ones and still are because of our inheritance one day with Him.

Carmen said...

Well said!!! And so true! When you're in high school, you think it's IT. It's such a small part of our lives, too bad we don't realize that until much later.

Chele said...

WOW that was beautiful. AMEN! It is never over! God always has a plan! :)

Candy said...

What a beautiful post. I did go to my prom and was considered "good-looking" but my husband told me the other day (we've been together for 13 yrs--since HS) that I'm more beautiful now than I ever was, even with my mom hips and bags under my eyes. It's amazing what age and perspective can do. Just like how God looks at us as we grow.

southerninspiration said...

Awww, what a great post......now you're closer to MY age! ;)

Suzanne

southerninspiration said...

oh, and I went to the prom with my best friend...she and I had a great time!
Suzanne

Patricia said...

Your post was beautiful!
You just always seem to know jut what to say. Your children are blessed to have you!
I did not go to my prom either ~ and I think I turned out okay too!

Denise said...

Beautiful post, and seriously I wasn't sure when I saw that last pic, I thought you were posting pics of your kids (cos I'm not sure how many you have, still new to your blog and all) because you look SO young! So I had to read slowly, and realized it's you and your son! You look amazing. Is he tall, or are you small, LOL ;-) Either way, you both look great. I posted about your pumpkin bread today :)

Terri said...

Oooohhhh I am in tears. Beautiful. So transparent. And so beautiful. Thank you. Blessings!

Kari said...

Beautiful because I think so many of us grow through that. I was the middle of 3 and my sister was my mom's twin, my brother was a cute boy who looked like my mom and dad - and I was the odd one out. Only one with blonde hair - didn't have any facial features that pointed me to my parents and I felt very 'not pretty' much of my growing up.
Not considered by boys - to be liked - but I had many guy friends. Never wore the latest fashions. Couldn't figure out to make make up could look good on me...All that.
You are beautiful, inside and out and isn't it amazing that He always thought so. About you, me and every other person out there.

melissa said...

Such a beautiful post, Richella! High School is so insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but wow, isn't it our whole existence when we're in that moment? Thank goodness for His vision for us...

Boy Crazy said...

Beautiful post, and you are beautiful! And? Seeing you next to your son floored me -- I have three little boys (oldest just turned 6) and I can't imagine the day that I literally have to look up to them!!!

Lovely, lovely post.

jojo said...

never went to the prom or had a boyfriend in high school either. In fact, I married my first and only boyfriend...not that I would admit that outloud or anything!

The Scooper said...

This one made me cry. Beautiful post. Beautiful author.

Jo@Mylestones said...

I'm so glad He's got plans beyond what we see, beyond today. Thanks for sharing such a lovely post.

amy said...

Great perspective! And you are beautiful, girl--inside and out! :)

Amanda@Imperfectly Beautiful said...

I love you Richella!

You continue to inspire and lift me up!

deb said...

It is always a blessing to come here. Your smile says much, in all of the pictures, but I'm so glad for you that your heart gets to burst and sparkle all over everyone now.
This resonated with me for different reasons, but many of us shared such pain in those years.
I wouldn't go back for anything, and I too am blessed to see my kids shine through theirs, carried on beauty and strength and love.
Thank you

Tiercy said...

simply beautiful! You, this post, the insight. I love that scripture from Jeremiah.

katie carruth at charming innovations said...

this is such an encouraging post! happy belated birthday! :)

Tara Rison said...

Thank you. This post spoke to my heart.

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

Oh, Richella, I can totally relate to this post too. I was the ugly duckling growing up too. Never dated in high school, the boys just didn't pay any attention to me. I made up for it in my 20's though, when I started to blossom. I went to my 5 year HS reunion & NO ONE knew who I was. Funny how it works that way!

BrentDavis1 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Post a Comment

Did anyone ever tell you to keep your comments to yourself? That wasn't me! I LOVE to hear from you. Thank you so much for visiting!