NB: This is a story about a young woman who prays to God about her struggles with her looks. It is purely fictional and a result of my imaginations. It is unrelated to any person dead or alive; any such resemblance is purely coincidental.
Josephine is the last born of her rich parents and 3 beautiful elder sisters. She was born a midget, gifted with a very high I. Q that many envied. However, due to her structure she suffered a great deal of torment from insensitive people wherever she went. Her self-esteem suffered a greater setback at home when she compared herself to her beautiful sisters with normal heights and lovely faces. Thus, she often felt lonely regardless of the love of her family and friends. Haven cried out to God several times to make her as beautiful as her sisters were, she often downplayed the great intelligence quotient God had gifted her with and couldn’t accept the way she was. She goes to God in prayer as she always does to explain her position.
How wonderful it is to come before your presence where there is no reproach or hurtful word. A peaceful moment where I feel accepted and loved by you. You encourage me in your word not to look down on myself since everything you have created is good in thy sight. With my sight, I see the beauty all around me, but fail to see what your hands have invested in me. Who can blame me? So much beauty surrounds me, I feel lost and invisible at times. Anyone who comes to my house for the first time looks at me as if I were the scar on my perfect family. The group pictures at the hall embarrass me so much I feel like smashing it and tearing myself out of it. The smiles I display in them are fake because I hate taking pictures. I am afraid to look at them afterwards.
At times, I wonder where I come from since I look so different from my sisters and anyone in my family from both parent’s side. Why didn’t the beautiful faces of my sisters find another version unto my face with dimpled cheeks and deep brown eyes? Why did you make their skins so beautiful and bright it sparkles in the night while my own complexion makes me feel so awkward around them? If my mom had not convinced me I was hers, I would have thought she and dad adopted me from an orphanage.
Living as a midget in this cruel society is the worst thing that can happen to anyone. At less than 4 feet, I feel like an outcast living among humans. I will have taken my life long ago if you did not live in my heart. Why do you create others so perfectly while others suffer in appearance? Why did you create me this way? At age 19, my height is ridiculous especially when children pass by me. I cannot even pretend to be a child because my body tells a different story. A small person with an adult’s body that is what you made me. Hmm, it is not easy living like this.
People stare at me as if I were from space. They never stop staring even when they have seen me repeatedly. How do I stop someone from staring at me even if I hate it so much? The defensive attitude I put up to protect myself makes me look mean even if I don’t want to. Do you blame me? You know I hate being the center of attention. When my sisters walk by, the attention they attract is that of admiration while the looks I receive are scornful.
The only place where I find refuge is my bedroom at home because even at home I feel out of place. I cannot tell you my family doesn’t love me because you know the truth and see all things. I have never lacked love at home though I sometimes think it is out of pity. My elder sisters look so alike I wish I looked as they did. Maybe then, I would be happier. Even though you gave me a brain and a memory even Archimedes would envy, I yearn for someone to call me beautiful. My mom always tells me how beautiful she thinks I am but she is just being kind. It will be good to hear this from a stranger. I prefer beautiful to weird or strange. Calling me weird is like a slap on my cheek; a slap I receive all the time.
I want to know how it feels to have men whistle in admiration when I pass by instead of the applauses I receive after I have won one more price. Am I being ungrateful to you? Am I asking for too much or do you understand the tender yearnings of my heart? Is it not normal for a younger sister always to adore her elder siblings and try to be like them? Is this not what many young ones yearn for? Is that not why they cry late at night when no one can hear and comfort them? Maybe if people’s comments were not so harsh, it would be bearable.
Though I am called Daddy’s little girl who lacks no material thing, I sometimes wonder if my dad truly loves me. He eagerly introduces me to his friends when they visit only when he wants to boast about his intelligent daughter who won one price or the other. But I am not the first he calls when he wants to show off his beautiful daughters. I know everyone has their weak and strong points but it pains me that my imperfections are so visible. It takes the ones who are truly kind at heart to love me for me.
With my height, I wonder what high heels will make me move with as much grace as Tracy, Ivy or Samantha. They move with such grace even with flat heels. My self-confidence flies out of the window anytime we go out as a family. I see mummy beam with smiles when people comment about how beautiful her girls look, taking after her. They then look at me as if I were a stranger. I will never forget the day her old school mate mistakenly referred to me as the house help. I felt so bad. The way mummy reprimanded her impressed me but her words had already done damage.
Fortunately, none of my family members allow negative comments about me in their presence. Mummy who can never hide her emotions is clearly the most affected. At times, she doesn’t know what to say when such issues arise in order not to hurt me more. Innocent comments she made in the past in her motherly attempt to defend me did not go down well with me as I threw childish tantrums. Moments like that are very uncomfortable for my family. Most times, I protest when they ask me to go out with them but the sad looks on their faces always change my mind.
After I read your word that stated that you created the deaf, dumb and blind alike in your own wisdom, I stopped asking myself why you made me this way. I have came to know that I am just as important as those around me but with a destiny as different as anyone else’s. You have taught me to love myself and accept myself the way I am. I have learnt to pretend so much that no one knows when I am miserable.
I need more love; I need to be told I am beautiful every time even if people don’t mean it. And when I wear a dress that does not suit me, I need a smile and not a laugh, an alternative and not a criticism. It is only in your presence that I feel safe enough to lay down my guard. I never feel ugly when I am in your presence as I do in the presence of men. You alone know what is good for me and choose to do what you will.
Last night I did it again, even though I had promised not to. When I saw the group picture we took as a family last week, I couldn’t help noticing how different I looked. When mummy commented on how lovely I looked with sincerity ringing in her voice along with the unison in my sisters’, I knew they meant it. However as I continued to look, all I could see were my flaws and how different I looked beside them. Instead of saying thank you, I turned around and left them standing there in surprise.
Why do I always blame them for something that is not their fault? I break the hearts of those who love me the most and hurt myself in the process. I am never able to address an issue without bringing in my looks even if the issues were unrelated. I am afraid I will lose them if you don’t help me change. The other day, when Tracy called me intelligent as I sat in my small corner reading my book, I know she meant no harm. But I would have preferred her calling me beautiful instead. How I wish I could just have laughed instead of glaring at her until she paled in my presence. I felt so bad because I love her so much.
Why am I unable to see beyond my looks to appreciate my other blessings? You have blessed me with an admiring intelligence exceeding someone my age. An intelligence others wish to have instead of the beauty I crave. You have given me good friends who admire the wisdom that comes out of my mouth. They prefer to hear me speak rather than endure the dry sense of humor from even the most beautiful girls. My sisters ask me for help with academic issues although I am much younger. Lord, in your wisdom you have gifted me with what is good for me. This is what will help me fulfill destiny.
Ignorant people look at me as if I were less of a human being. Others avoid me like a virus; I wonder if they know the gem in me. It takes the wise and kind at heart to know there is more to me than my awkward appearance. No one who took the time to know me has ever regretted. This is evident in the number of friends I have. They all adore me and even fight for my attention.
When my sister Samantha fell in love with that handsome man, I knew he was not right for her. I used how you created me as an illustration to save her from a heartbreak from which she might not have recovered. I listened patiently to her about how handsome he was and how lucky she was to receive attention from him. But my simple question turned the brightness in her eyes to one of confusion and realization. “When you take away that handsome cover from him, what else do you see?” She was like a blind woman who had just regained her sight. All she saw when she looked at him was his gorgeous body. I was sad at the look in her eyes and the words she seemed to stammer, for.
I could never remember a time when she was lost for words. I am grateful that you used me to save her. Beyond the muscled chest and handsome face, the young man had nothing to offer her. The hug she gave me as she cried on my shoulder was priceless. That day, you gave me a revelation I had refused to admit to myself. The fact that I do not glitter outside does not mean that I am no gold. I am grateful that you quickly dispelled the bitterness that I initially harbored. You have been my light and taught me that the body is just a cover that conceals either good or bad just as a book whose contents are unknown unless it is read.
My height can never determine my altitude. You are able to carry me on your shoulders if I cannot see above. You are my father and my maker. If I have made you unhappy by being unhappy about how your great hands have made me, please forgive me. Give me the eyes to see your spirit within me and the heart to forgive every rude stare. Give me the humor to laugh with those who have a cause to laugh at my mistakes. Let me not read much meaning into it. Help me love myself as you have loved me forever and ever amen.
RELATED BIBLE PASSAGE
1 Samuel 16:1-7
1 _ Finally, the LORD said to Samuel, “You have mourned long enough for Saul. I have rejected him as king of Israel. Now fill your horn with olive oil and go to Bethlehem. Find a man named Jesse who lives there, for I have selected one of his sons to be my new king.”
2 _ But Samuel asked, “How can I do that? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.”
“Take a heifer with you,” the LORD replied, “and say that you have come to make a sacrifice to the LORD. 3 _ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you which of his sons to anoint for me.”
4 _ So Samuel did as the LORD instructed him. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the leaders of the town became afraid. “What’s wrong?” they asked. “Do you come in peace?”
5 _ “Yes,” Samuel replied. “I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Purify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” Then Samuel performed the purification rite for Jesse and his sons and invited them, too.
6 _ When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, “Surely this is the LORD’s anointed!” 7 _ But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t make decisions the way you do! People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at a person’s thoughts and intentions.”
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. Like Josephine, do you sometimes feel you are not beautiful or important enough?
2. Do you blame God for your imperfections and wish you were like someone else?
3. What does the above scripture tell you about how the Lord judges people?
4. As human beings, how can learning from how God judges people make us accept people just as they are?
5. How does wanting to be like others instead of loving ourselves make us envious and bitter people?
6. Like Josephine, do you agree that counting our blessings bring us happiness instead of wallowing in self-pity about what we don’t have?