She was eighteen when I was born, and she baked, crafted, and played Scrabble with her big sister (by three years), my mom. She attended all my school performances and Girl Scout bridging ceremonies.
She let me play with her childhood Barbies.
She took me to church, carnivals, and movies. I remember our going to Pizza Hut, once, and the server’s mistaking us for mother and daughter. We looked at one another and beamed. We didn’t say a word.
Aunt Ellie read to me and added, lovingly, to my library. Raggedy Ann Stories and The Velveteen Rabbit stand out because I’ve held onto the books all these years. Also because I’ve always associated my aunt with the main characters.
We love Raggedy Ann and the Velveteen Rabbit, don’t we?, because they teach us about real beauty: about how it’s in the eyes of a loving beholder, about how love transforms. About how real beauty wins…only it’s not a contest, because real beauty can’t be compared with something skin deep.
And we try to see past the surface, especially when we believe the Lord’s words: that He doesn’t see as man sees, that He looks on the heart (Samuel 16:7). We try to see people His way, but it’s hard not to stare at–or even judge–those who look differently. Sometimes, in our efforts not to look too long, we don’t look long enough.
I’ve often wondered: how would it be to live life with few people looking at me for the appropriate length of time?
And I truly believe: because I’ve asked myself (all my life) that question, I’ve lived fairly comfortably in my skin. As hard as it is to see others with God’s eyes, isn’t it even harder to see ourselves with them?
I had a choice to make (again), today: to fuss over extra pounds, gray hair, bitten nails, moles, stretch marks, birthmarks, and rough heels; or to offer up thanks that everything works, that I can blend into a crowd. (Not everyone is so blessed.) I chose the latter. Then I chose to concern myself with developing real beauty.
Aunt Ellie has real beauty.
I want her when I’m angry or sad or scared; she won’t judge me. I want her when I’m sick; she knows what to do. (Also, she has soft, cool hands.) I want her when I have a secret; she never tells. I want her when I need encouragement; she cheers for me. I want her when I’m lonely; she makes time. I want her when I feel unloved; she shows up.
She’s been a mother to me, and she’s been a mother with me.
And If I can journey into her kind of beauty, I will have arrived.
(Thank you, beautiful Brandee, for this guest post… for teaching us true beauty. And Happy Canadian Thanksgiving everyone!)