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Embracing the Ordinary

Are we entitled to be beautiful?

My sister is losing her hair. Just some of it. After each of her three pregnancies, she's lost a little, but this last one took a harsher toll, and she's learned she has an iron deficiency that often results in hair loss. My sister and I both have very fine hair, so losing it—even just a little—has been an especially difficult reality to face.

My sister is beautiful. She's not flashy or glamorous; rather, her beauty is a natural radiance. My sister is also wise and probably cause for 75 percent of my spiritual and emotional growth throughout the years. We had a conversation over Christmas that stemmed from her hair loss, snatches of which I've had running through my mind since.

It's hard for me to remember a time when I've seen my sister as insecure about a physical feature than she has been about her hair. Yet God has been using this struggle to continue honing the orientation of her heart toward him.

She said to me, "As I've been experiencing this loss and growing in my self-consciousness, I've realized that I have an expectation of myself—almost a sense of entitlement—to being 'above average.' Even if I don't necessarily feel that my attractiveness is above average, I'm always striving toward that end—like that's the expectation I hold myself to. But when was I ever guaranteed 'above average attractiveness' in this life? Jesus himself had 'no beauty to attract us to him.' If he didn't demand to be attractive, what makes me think I'm entitled to be?"

She wasn't being self-deprecating. She was really just considering this new possible reality: that for the time being, on this old earth, maybe she's going to be ordinary. Maybe she can just be ordinary. The voice that's led her to believe in a certain entitlement—to reach for something beyond who she really is—isn't God's voice. So she doesn't have to factor it.

Of course it's nice to look nice; it's appropriate to be appropriate. Makeup is not of the devil.

But hearing my sister's thoughts, which contain so much of God's truth, has served God's purpose (as his truth is bound to do): since Christmas, I've experienced a freedom previously foreign to me. It is truly okay to be ordinary.

It's actually most likely that you and I were made physically ordinary. Yes, one day we will be given new and flawless bodies, and now our flawed bodies are divinely appointed to be vessels of God's Holy Spirit, which is no small calling. But how we look—here, now? It's just not true that we need to look better and better, whether better than we do naturally or better than other people. It's not how we were made, and we don't have to waste so much of ourselves on that pursuit. Praise the Lord for this insight!

Where are you in this journey? Do you long to throw off this false expectation and embrace the blessed ordinariness of this life?

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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