Beauty, Plain

If you are looking at this blog it is apparent to you that I am a Plain woman. This has nothing to do with standards of beauty. I dress in simple, layered, monochromatic clothes, my hair is long, uncut, and pinned up, and I wear an unadorned white cotton bonnet called a prayer cap. You won’t see my legs, and my feet are ensconced in ankle high boots. It’s about as unsexy as I can get.

My husband, Nicholas, was watching television last night. (We were watching “Canada’s Worst Handyman,” a competition to see if five very untrained people can learn basic home maintenance skills. Some can, some can’t. I’ve learned some things myself.) A commercial for the Olympics in Vancouver came on the screen. “She looks like you!” Nicholas says. “Who? Where?” I asked. “That one, the one with the dark hair.”

I could not see any resemblance between myself and a cartoon Olympiad in athletic clothing. “No, I don’t look like that.” He was getting a little frustrated with me. “Yes, like that.” “No, sweetie, maybe years ago…”

“That’s how I remember you,” he said, which was sad, since he lost some vision and some memories with the stroke.

“But I don’t look like that now,” I said. “I certainly wouldn’t look like that in those clothes. I’m just a middle-aged Plain woman now.”

“But that’s beautiful,” he said. “I think you are just as beautiful now as when you were an athlete.”

And, friends, it doesn’t get better than that. I’ve got a few extra pounds keeping me warm; the hair is decidedly streaked with silver; some days the knees, hips and feet ache, a legacy of that athletic past. Still, the most important man in my world doesn’t just tell me I’m beautiful. He knows it. He means it.

The slim, dark-haired, blue-eyed runner I once was may have been physically beautiful, but my spiritual beauty hadn’t fully emerged. Prayer, humility and some tough breaks in life have deepened that beauty, so that my partially blind husband can see me inside, not just the shell the world sees. That counts for more than anything.

I couldn’t have reached this point in my life with strength if I hadn’t chosen the Plain way. If my appearance and public approval of me had been more important than following my Lord, my conscience and my heart, I would have fallen away. If the mirror had held too much of my attention, I would have neglected more important things.

Plain is a gift from God. Don’t turn away from that gift when it is offered to you as a Christian. It improved my soul’s strength, and I believe it is a way of life that could strengthen our world.