Saturday, April 20

A shared story

One of the loveliest traditions of our church is weekly communion, particularly because our practice is to have members serve communion to one another.  We all line up and proceed to the front of our worship space, where our fellow members offer the elements, murmuring "Christ's body broken for you" and "Christ's blood shed for you."  It's a beautiful time.

This week I was talking with our Associate Pastor about last Sunday's service.  He told me that he'd asked a lady to serve communion who at first demurred, "Oh, I don't think I could." Puzzled, he asked why.  Her answer: "Because I have a prosthetic hand."

Turns out that her prosthesis was not an impediment at all.  This beautiful lady held the cup steady as worshippers took communion.

But she was surprised that the pastor didn't know about her prosthetic hand before Sunday.  He told me that she'd said, "I just assume. . . "

And before he told me, I could finish her sentence.  I knew what she said.

She said, "I just assume it's the first thing people notice about me."

Of course.

I know that feeling all too well.  That's exactly the way I feel about my birthmark.

Oh, how I wish this were not so.  I'd certainly never noticed the lovely woman at church had a prosthetic hand.  The pastor had never noticed.  Almost nobody had noticed.  Yet she assumed we'd all seen it.  She was certain it's the first thing we saw.  But it's not.

She is not defined by her prosthesis.  I'm not defined by my birthmark.  And despite our self-consciousness, those attributes are not the first thing that people notice.  It's not that people don't notice us; it's just that they're too busy looking into our eyes, listening to our laughs, hearing our voices to see the imperfections that seem so glaring to us.

The truth is, some people know us well and never notice.

Now, I say "the truth is," but I'm still learning that it's the truth.  Last May I wrote a post about dealing with both the ugly and the pretty about myself.  Imagine my surprise when a woman I'd known years ago contacted me about that post.  I knew her well.  She was my junior counselor at camp, which meant that we worked together and played together and slept in the same room together.  We did everything side by side during that time at summer camp.   There's no telling how many times we changed into our swimsuits right there in that room.  Yet when she wrote to me, she told me that she just couldn't remember that I had a birthmark.

Honestly, I still have trouble believing that.  But I know she's a truth-telling woman, so I'm trying to believe it.

Turns out that a lot of us have trouble believing the truth about ourselves.  This week I saw the video called "Real Beauty Sketches" produced by Dove as part of its Real Beauty campaign.  I wept as I watched it.  If you haven't seen it, I urge you to watch it.

And please tell me: is this part of your story, too?


  1. Oh, yes absolutely. Part of my story too, my dear. Thank you for sharing with us. You are beautiful inside and out.

  2. I love what you said and the video is beautiful. I wonder if children would describe themselves more accurately and if so I wonder at what age they start seeing their flaws first.

  3. I had never seen this before and I have to tell you-it made me cry. It is one of my truths, too----xo Diana

  4. Wow. Yes, this is absolutely part of my story too. Thank you for sharing it.

  5. I found this project from Dove on a friend's facebook page ~ so moving. I think all women should see it and take another look at the way we view ourselves.

  6. Dear Richella - I do believe that what your friend said is true, that she didn't remember that you had a birthmark. When we get to know the beauty within people sometimes what we saw at first, on the outside, is forgotten. You are definitely a beautiful person inside and out! Thanks for sharing this today. As I am aging, and people tell me I look good, I tend to say to myself, "But it is all downhill from here!" I need to stop that and be happy where I am in this new season of life. Thanks for sharing this. Blessings to you, Patti

  7. Beautiful post, Richella!! Thank you so much for sharing from your heart. :) Wise words. :)

  8. Amazing post. We are always so much more critical of ourselves then others are. Thank you for sharing this.

  9. I really think that clip exposed the lie of how we see our flaws in the negative, and these flaws are not really flaws but special individual character traits. Those things that make us who we are (created in His image)
    Thanks for helping us see!
    Blessings, Roxy

  10. Thank you so much for sharing this. I think it is part of most women's story. I think about my weight and feel judged because of it. I wonder what I would be concerned about if I shed it? Is there always something? I have had people tell me they don't see my extra 100 lbs, that they see the "me" of me. Hard to believe even though I know I see the their souls also. Who wants to be friends with a "perfect" person if the person is hateful or negative? I always choosing loving or looks, don't you?

  11. I watched the video and bawled my face off. I don't see myself as others see me. I focus more on what I see as my flaws than anything that others may see as beautiful. This is a journey I've been on my entire life -- accepting me for who God created me to be.

  12. Richella that video is so good and true! Thank you for sharing it with us.
    I know you've shown your birthmark before but it's never what I think of, when I think of you. You are a beautiful lady inside and out!

  13. I am constantly aware of how overweight I am and assume people see that above all else. I don't feel pretty and feminine, but a few weeks ago a friend and I were talking and I said that I didn't feel very feminine and she said, "Heathahlee," (yes, she calls me Heathahlee!) "you are one of the most feminine women I know!" There have been a few instances like that...someone will say a positive thing about me that they just assume I see, and it totally shocks me that they see that in me. Why do we see the worst in ourselves? Because I KNOW our Father doesn't want His princesses to do that!

    Kind of a side note...I think of you every time I see this commercial. :)

  14. My Grandmother had a birthmark similar to yours only on her hand and arm. I always thought it was so pretty and was surprised to find out that she had been embarrassed by it when she was young!

    Beauty, as well as ugliness radiates from within. Don't you remember knowing girls who were pretty on the outside, but no one liked them because of what was inside?

    My Grandmother was beautiful on the inside, so I carried all of that over to her outer qualities as well.

    Great post!

  15. I have the exact same birthmark as you do. And my story is so similar to is all I see. But those closest to me can't remember that I have one. I've conditioned myself to hide it...and the Holy Spirit has used this wonderful blog and your honesty to reveal a need for me to see myself in the way that Jesus does. Thank you :)


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