You'll never be a beauty queen...


I'm ten or eleven and I limp down the darkened stairwell. At the bottom of the marble stairs, mama opens the door and exhaust fumes from the street outside fill the hallway, stifling the stench of burned flesh and antiseptics lingering in my nostrils.

Outside we cross the street to McCory's. It's my reward for not crying when the doctor cauterizes the warts on my knee for what seems like the hundredth time. I climb up onto one of the red vinyl-covered stools along the counter, and mama buys us cherry cokes with the two last dimes in her wallet.

Mama examines the burns on my knee and shakes her head. You'll never be a beauty queen she tells me, and don't I know it. Frizzy hair frames my freckled face, drab brown eyes and buck-toothed grin.

She means no harm. She's hoping to make me laugh, but the words stick tight to my tender heart and when I look in the mirror, I see ugly and loser. And I don't remember my daddy ever telling me otherwise.

When you are ten or eleven and believe you're ugly and a loser and no one tells you differently, and you drag those wounding words into grown-up life, it takes a God-sized scalpel to scrape them off your heart, mercy to bathe the wounds in love, and the cross to heal them with grace.   

So when I'm long past ten or eleven and once again limp down the stairs, I begin to understand why I see beauty in the weeds.
He has made everything beautiful in its time....
Ecclesiastes 3:11a ESV