Earlier this week I wrote about beauty, including my best skincare tip. I shared a photo that my husband had made into an art print. I love that photo, because it's mostly about the part of me that's pretty--my red hair.
There's another part of me that's not at all pretty. In fact, it's ugly. I've written about this a little before, but mostly I try not to think about it too much. A couple of weeks ago I was reminded of it rather starkly. Every spring, when the weather turns warm and I start wearing dresses or shorts, it happens. This time it happened at church. A very kind man rushed up to me and asked, "Were you hurt?"
He asked that question is because of my birthmark.
I snapped this photo with my phone. I was standing in a department store and caught a glimpse of myself in the full-length mirror. The photo shows just part of my birthmark, of course. Believe me, you don't want to see all of it. It covers most of the right side of my body.
There's no way to sugar-coat it. My birthmark is ugly. It can't be removed, even with sophisticated lasers (I've tried). It can't be covered with make-up (I've tried). It can be hidden, of course, if I never allow my legs to show. I've tried that, too, but that's not really the way I want to live my life. So the only real option is to deal with the ugly.
Over the years many people have said to me, "Oh, you should realize that your birthmark is beautiful, because this is just how God planned for you to be." I don't believe this is true. My birthmark is part of a rare disease called Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrome, and disease was not part of God's plan for us when he created everything. Disease entered the world after Adam and Eve chose to sin against God. What is true is that God is in charge of everything, and He did allow disease to enter the world. But there's quite a big difference between God's causing something to happen and His allowing something to happen.
God did allow me to have Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrome, and with it this birthmark. And one thing I know for sure about God is that if He allows something to happen, He wants to redeem it. He can bring healing and beauty into the most difficult of circumstances.
Many people toss around the sentiment, "God must be teaching you something." Well, that's true in some ways, although perhaps not always in the way that people mean. I've learned a lot from having this birthmark--some of it good, some of it bad. It's taken a long time to sort the truth from the lies. But I'll tell you the most important thing that God has taught me because of my birthmark:
God loves me. The whole package of me, God loves.
When I look at myself, I like the view that includes my pretty red hair. I don't like the view that includes my ugly red birthmark. It's hard to deal with something ugly. But the ugly birthmark is part of me. It's an important part of my story, and my story is good. My story is one of redemption. My story tells that God is good and faithful and patient and loving. With John I can say,
"This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you,
that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all (I John 1:5).
But God loves all of me, the pretty and the ugly. Just as He loves all of you.
Do you have a story that includes both the pretty and the ugly? I'd love to hear it!
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