Reading comments on the post of the progressively-darkening various skin-toned arms that I posted on social media, I was reminded of a time I was confronted with anger when I complimented a young black woman on her beauty..
I have looked at some darker skinned women (and men, as well) and thought, “What a beautiful person!” and even felt moved to say to them how beautiful they are…. but I usually have not. I have been restrained by experiences in the past of being accused of pandering or patronizing when I, as a white person, complimented a black woman. How sad that one would be suspect when delighting in the beautiful diverse ways God has shown his glory through his children! One’s reactions when people compliment her appearance say so much more about her own view of herself and the prejudices of her own heart than it does about the “eye of the beholder.” When we are looking for and seeing the divine image in one another and not just the body, a compliment received can be delightfully enjoyed and appreciated, without risk of pridefulness, knowing that the one complimenting is seeing our soul and not just our physical self! When someone compliments….imagine them seeing Jesus in you, the way God does, and say, “Thank you!”
I had a similar stirring one day to tell a new female Caucasian acquaintance with substance abuse, mental health, and legal problems whom I was taking to a family funeral that she was beautiful! Her looks and demeanor could easily have been called “rough” and “street tough” by anyone at the time. We had been talking about family on the way. The morning’s sun was shining across her during the hour’s drive. She was going to see her children at the funeral. As we talked I saw her features soften, her skin color glow with warmth, her eyes sparkle, a smile appear, her voice became more gentle..…. I saw the beauty of a heart that loved. It was a stunning transformation that occurred simply through a heart to heart conversation.
Is this the miracle of a physical countenance renewed and transformed by the grace of loving, supportive relationships or the miracle of being given the grace to see with the eyes of Jesus? I don’t know, but I certainly experienced the presence of Christ with us that morning and witnessed it as a miracle.