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DSCF3597I have baked some ugly bread, loaves that didn’t turn out pleasing to the eye.  They’ve had flat tops, sunken middles, blown-out sides, burned bottoms, and hunchbacks (though never all at once).

But with very few exceptions, these ugly loaves of bread have been edible and even delicious.  They’ve done a good bread’s job of both pleasing the palate and nourishing the body.

Sometimes I can get over-focused on how “pretty” my bread looks, whether it meets some arbitrary criteria of visual perfection, instead of being appreciative of the taste and nutrition it delivers.

We live in a looks-obsessed culture.  We have more opportunities than ever to see what the media, and thus our society at large, views as desirable.  Especially as a woman, it can be hard to put aside these arbitrary and unrealistic views of what I should look like.

I can start to judge myself by what someone else, not one someone or someone I know, but a sort of cultural hive-mind, has decided I “should” look like and be like, or how much money I should have.  Worse, I begin to judge others by the same standards.

I can begin to think that if someone looks good or is financially successful, they are good, and more desirable to God.

But God sees not as man sees. (I Samuel 16:7)  God looks at the heart.  He sees not only the hidden virtues that lie beneath our external facades, but also the hidden sins and ugliness.

The truth is, we are all valuable and beautiful to God, because we were created in His image (Genesis 1:27).  The truth is, we are also all poor, crippled, blind, and lame – disfigured by the sins we’ve committed. (Luke 14:15-23)

Jesus, though the sacrifice of His blood on the cross, makes us whole again, spiritually.  No matter what physical defects we possess, or how we compare with the world’s standard of beauty, when we accept the offer of grace through baptism, His beauty becomes our own in the eyes of God.

As I deal with others, of varying ages, stations in life, and levels of physical attractiveness and ability, I need to look at both them and myself with the eyes of God.  They are as valuable to Him as I am, and possibly more useful in His kingdom.