A CBA Bestseller
The question whispers from the tender places of every woman's soul: "Do you think I'm beautiful?" We usually pretend we don't hear it. We say we are strong and sure, that we don't long to be held and protected, or that beautiful could never be said of us. We settle for being loyal, hard working, steady. Now Angela Thomas invites you to recover your heart's secret longings and embrace the One who finds you unspeakably desirable.
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Angela Thomas is the mother of four, a dynamic, transparent speaker and a best-selling author. Her real-life, down-to-earth, biblically inspired teaching is for every girl of every age.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Do You Think I'm Beautiful?
I've worn glasses since I was eighteen months old. My first pair had cat-eye frames, and everyone thought I looked so cute in them. "Oh, look at that little baby with glasses. Isn't she the sweetest thing?" Then I began to grow, and for about a year I had to wear a patch over my right eye to make the left one stronger. I guess it was a decent idea, but it didn't work. It caused my weaker eye to become the dominant one. As an adult I could only look through a camera lens or telescope with my left eye, the one that saw 20/4000 uncorrected. And don't you know I was a stunner in the Captain Hook patch with cat-eye glasses on top?
Eventually, in elementary school, classmates and neighborhood kids tagged me "four eyes." I was special - one of maybe three "four eyes" in the entire school. Me and my wire-rim, stop-sign-shaped glasses. How cool can a girl be with traffic signs in front of her eyes? Not very. And a few years later, for the full effect, we added three and a half years of braces. Railroad tracks. Tinsel teeth. That was me...think bottle caps before my eyes, tin on my teeth, and - to make things as awful as possible - I was smart. In case you've forgotten, girls don't want to be smart in junior high - they want to be pretty.
By those tender junior high years, I knew for sure that beauty had eluded me. Now my best friend, Carla, was beautiful. Some senior guys even asked her to the prom when we were in the eighth grade. The eighth grade! Can you imagine that? Carla was at the high school prom, and I was probably at home writing a paper. Yep, there were many beautiful girls at my school, but I was not among them. I could do algebra and remember the answers for history tests. I actually did all of my homework and turned it in on time. The other day, Carla reminded me that I used to make up practice tests, take the tests, and then grade them - all to prepare for the actual thing. What a dweeb!
All I really wanted was to look like everyone else, but my circumstances wouldn't cooperate. Long, thick, straight hair that I styled with two barrettes every day of my young life. Braces that seemed destined to be a permanent part of my smile. And the doom of four eyes forever. Don't get the wrong impression no one ever called me ugly, and no one ever laughed in my face. It's just that no one ever noticed.
The Plain One
I have fumbled along with this beauty thing ever since those elementary days. I eventually realized that if I couldn't appeal to their visual senses, I could make people laugh and be fun enough to appeal to their hearts. I became a cheerleader and a good citizen and an all-around great friend. Steady. That's what most people called me. You could count on me to show up on time, make good decisions, and always, always try to do the right thing. I was the one you could snub one day and embrace the next without so much as an apology. There were no boyfriends to distract me from my friends or academics, and, besides, who doesn't need a girlfriend as faithful as a golden retriever? As long as they'd pat me on the head every once in a while, I'd run and fetch and do just about anything to please.
Every Sunday on the way to church, my daddy would say that he had the prettiest daughter in the whole wide world. I know; it was sweet. But that's what dads are supposed to say. I heard him and have held on to his words even to this day, but deep down, back then, I didn't believe him. If I were really pretty, I reasoned, then someone besides my father would notice. But no one ever did.
When compliments were handed out, I was an afterthought. People would tell one of my friends how gorgeous she looked and then add, "Angela, you look nice too." I felt like saying, "Please, don't bother. You're only highlighting the obvious. I am the plain one." When the entire school began dating, I continued to blend into the background. I remember the high school quarterback calling my name, saying he wanted to talk to me, and then asking if I thought my friend would go out with him. Sound familiar? Happened more times than I can count. It makes me smile now, but I can also still feel the emptiness in my stomach as I reminisce.
It was simply a predetermined fact that I could not control: I was not beautiful. Unless you asked my grandmother, who'd tell you, "Pretty is as pretty does." Of course, that's Southern for, "Well, you are kind of homely, but try not to think about it." God bless my grandmother for always keeping my feet firmly anchored on the ground. I remember coming home one day in junior high with that year's school pictures. I complained to her that they were awful and told her with embarrassment that no one could look at them. But she persisted, and I finally relented. She looked at the pictures and then back at me and said with her ever-present Ma-Ma clarity, "Well, Angela, I think they look just like you." Truth. Life-shaping truth. My school pictures were awful, and they looked just like me. I knew then that if "pretty is as pretty does," I had better get to doing. So I did. Only, somehow, all of my doing never made me feel very pretty.
I realize that I have painted a fairly depressing picture here. Homely, brainy nerd compensates by going out for the cheerleading squad, Velcro-ing herself to some friends, and trying always to do the right thing but still gets lost in the crowd. Depressing, but accurate. Almost.
You see, the summer before my senior year in high school, I discovered contact lenses, got my braces off, and tried a Farrah Fawcett haircut -all within a week or so. My best friend sat beside me at a baseball game and literally didn't recognize me. I'd wave to friends at the mall, and they wouldn't wave back. Completely changed on the outside. Maybe even pretty if you tilted your head and squinted. But the die had already been cast on the inside. I knew that I would never be beautiful.
Standing and Smiling And Groovin' From the Edge
I know that you remember the story of Cinderella. If you have little girls, you probably have the same books, dolls, and videos that we have. Every time I read this fairy tale to one of my children, my heart skips ahead, anticipating the ball at the palace. Do you recall that evening? The evil stepsisters and their mother are there along with all the other available bachelorettes in the kingdom. Prince Charming is becoming discouraged because he has met every bride wanna-be but no one has capture his heart. Thankfully, there is a fairy godmother, a little bibbity-bobbity-boo, and then Cinderella finally arrives. She is breathtaking, and the entire room is captivated by her beauty. Prince Charming is eternally smitten. There is a night of dancing, a quick good-bye, a shoe that fits, and a happily ever after.
Now tell me, when you think of yourself in this story, which character do you allow yourself to become? Where are you standing at the ball? I would love it if you thought of yourself as Cinderella. I have tried on those slippers but have never been able to bring myself to believe that I should be dancing in her shoes. I have never thought of myself as a stepsister or the evil stepmother either. Somehow, I have always seen myself as one of the faceless in the crowd. One of the girls from the kingdom who gave it her best shot, spent days optimistically preparing for the ball, splurged on the dress and the hair, and anxiously arrived with butterflies in her stomach, only to stand around with the other hopefuls, make small talk, smile politely, groove to the music, and remain unnoticed.
I have a friend who said to me, "Angela, I think that's a bunch of bull. I can't believe you really feel like that." Actually, it would be bull to tell you differently. Oh, I want to be Cinderella. I want to be the most beautiful woman at the ball, but I've never been bold enough to think of myself as her. Maybe the lessons of junior high linger. Maybe I've been conditioned by my environment. Maybe I'm just a coward. Whichever it is, when you grow up longing to be beautiful but knowing that you are not, it feels like there could never be a glass slipper that would fit.
Most of us took different paths but arrived at the same conclusion: Cinderella is always someone else. There is a little girl inside me who secretly aches for a fairy godmother to magically bumble her way into my life, wave her wand, and make me into the princess I have always longed to be. Make me beautiful. Make me captivating. Make someone notice.
But life is not a fairy tale. Magic wands are only for pretending. Cinderella shoes are mass-produced by the millions for the tiny feet of little girls who still believe Prince Charming will ask then to dance. Grown-up women wear sensible shoes, put their ball gowns in storage, and teach themselves to believe that being asked to dance isn't all that important anyway.
Sensible women like you and me survey life and figure out how to make the journey with the least possible heartache. We insulate ourselves for maximum protection in the event of a fall. We isolate ourselves from risk to guard against failure. And above everything, we bind up the precious gifts of longing and desire and banish them to a faraway land. We've stopped dressing up or anticipating the ball, deciding it's better to stay home than to hope again and be disappointed.
Maybe it's because I'm now staring at forty years. Maybe it's because my life with a bow on it came undone. Maybe it's because wisdom leaned in and yelled, "Would you listen to your heart? Stop pretending and ask the questions." I don't know exactly. I just know that somehow the Spirit of God has awakened the spirit in me.
I am realizing that at least half of my life has passed, and I'...
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Book Description Thorndike Press, 2004. Board book. Book Condition: New. New and unread publisher overstock with remainder mark. Bookseller Inventory # 1705231577