Beauty is...

I am participating in a Ten Day Beauty Challenge. This is a challenge that was done at BYU several weeks ago and, although I feel myself dragging my feet about it - I'm doing it.

Today's quote is

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure... We ask ourselves: ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.” -Nelson Mandela

Today's challenge is

GET STARTED: Today, start your journal for the challenge. Write for at least ten minutes and express gratitude for all the things your body allows you to do. Refrain from weighing yourself today. In fact, refrain from weighing yourself during the 10 days of the challenge.

WHY: Recording your thoughts helps you process your feelings. You will be surprised what surfaces when you give time and voice to your thoughts.When we focus on weight, the number never seems to be the right one. We don’t have to subject ourselves to that grief--weight is not always an accurate measure of health or body fat, and we would do well to eliminate the obsession of weighing ourselves altogether.

The first thing that comes to mind is something my Mom (and probably yours) always quoted, "Beauty is as beauty does." I wonder if I really believe that to be true. Several years ago, I was worried about my then pre-teen daughter's self esteem and so I purchased custom vinyl lettering to go on her bathroom mirror, "Beauty is not in the face. Beauty is a light in the heart." - Khalil Gibran - Do I believe it? I think of Sister Dalton's recent talk to the YW. She talked about deep beauty. She said

I was given a unique opportunity, along with a small group of other students, to meet the prophet, President David O. McKay. I was told to wear my best dress and to be ready to travel early the next morning to Huntsville, Utah, to the home of the prophet. I will never forget the experience I had. As soon as we entered the home, I felt the spirit which filled that home. We were seated in the prophet’s living room, surrounding him. President McKay had on a white suit, and seated next to him was his wife. He asked for each of us to come forward and tell him about ourselves. As I went forward, he held out his hand and held mine, and as I told him about my life and my family, he looked deeply into my eyes.
After we had finished, he leaned back in his chair and reached for his wife’s hand and said, “Now, young women, I would like you to meet my queen.” There seated next to him was his wife, Emma Ray McKay. Although she did not wear a crown of sparkling diamonds, nor was she seated on a throne, I knew she was a true queen. Her white hair was her crown, and her pure eyes sparkled like jewels. As President and Sister McKay spoke of their family and their life together, their intertwined hands spoke volumes about their love. Joy radiated from their faces. Hers was a beauty that cannot be purchased. It came from years of seeking the best gifts, becoming well educated, seeking knowledge by study and also by faith. It came from years of hard work, of faithfully enduring trials with optimism, trust, strength, and courage. It came from her unwavering devotion and fidelity to her husband, her family, and the Lord.
On that fall day in Huntsville, Utah, I was reminded of my divine identity, and I learned about what I now call “deep beauty”—the kind of beauty that shines from the inside out. It is the kind of beauty that cannot be painted on, surgically created, or purchased. It is the kind of beauty that doesn’t wash off. It is spiritual attractiveness. Deep beauty springs from virtue. It is the beauty of being chaste and morally clean. It is the kind of beauty that you see in the eyes of virtuous women like your mother and grandmother. It is a beauty that is earned through faith, repentance, and honoring covenants.
I want to believe it. I do believe it. In a way. So, am I worried that I am not physically beautiful? Or, do I worry that I'm not "good enough" to have the other kind of beauty? I don't know. But I know I don't consider myself to be beautiful. I am trying to think of times I have felt beautiful... I may need to focus on that some other time. But today it is about gratitude. That is easy.

I am grateful beyond words for the ability to walk. There was a time this year that I wasn't sure I would gain back that ability and walking is a miracle. I have a friend in a wheelchair. She was in a car accident coming home after graduating from BYU and permanently lost her ability to walk. I've never seen her when she wasn't smiling. I spent a lot of time this year without a smile on my face and it makes me feel ungrateful to think about it. It is still difficult for me to walk and by the end of the day I hurt quite a bit. Going up and down stairs is hard. And - I can't walk barefoot anymore. It's funny, because when my doctor told me I'd never be able to walk barefoot anymore - I thought he meant I wasn't supposed to, that it would be bad for my foot, I wasn't ALLOWED to walk barefoot. It never occurred to me that he meant I simply would not be able to. I can say all of these things without feeling sorry for myself or having a pity party because I CAN WALK. I will take whatever pain or inconvenience comes with it because walking is a blessing.

In addition, I can sing Christmas carols. I can hold children in my arms. I can hold hands with my husband. I can blow kisses and cry. I can shake hands with Priesthood leaders and raise my hand to sustain them. I can blow out candles and play the flute and a little piano. I can swim deep under the water. I can sleep and eat and drink. I can roll my eyes or wink at you. I can use my hand to wipe away snow from a window or a tear from your cheek or to pet my cat. I can hold loved ones up and I can lean on them. I am amazing on crutches and could probably participate in the Crutch Olympics (started by my nephews who I hug and kiss). I can sit when I need to and stand for truth and righteousness. I can bite my lip and roll my tongue. I can grit my teeth and make fish lips. I can give Eskimo kisses. I can bake ginger cookies for book group and smell the holidays in the air. My mouth can water like Pavlov's dog. I can read the scriptures and ponder them in my mind and heart and kneel and fold my arms and pray. I can feel the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the warmth of the fire after the cold of the snow. I can breathe in and out and feel peace. I can whistle and hum and play the kazoo. I can knit a cancer cap. I can crochet a tropical bandage. I can make babies in a cradle with a handkerchief. I can smile and I can laugh. I am grateful.

4 Response to "Beauty is..."

  1. elaine says:

    Beautiful post Whit. And I am surprised you don't know you are beautiful, honestly. Now can I critique? This covers a lot of the same parts mine does, except you need to be more grateful for your ribs. :)

    Whit says:

    lol - broke a rib last year... guess without the ribs I would have been dead cause my heart or lungs would have been smushed.

    Whit says:

    So, I'm grateful for them. :D

    Stacy H. says:

    You gals make me laugh! :) Whit, I really enjoyed reading your entry!! You're a fantastic writer. I relate to you so much! Here's to our successful journey!! :)

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