True Beauty Conversations: The Ugly Duckling

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Julia and I are exploring the meaning of Beauty, intersecting Beauty with the word of God, and letting Beauty live in our lives. Inspired by a joint feeling of just not measuring up in the beauty category, we’re tackling some hard questions:

  • What is Beauty? And does it reside in me?
  • And when my husband says that I‚Äôm beautiful, how can I receive those words as truth in a culture that says the opposite?
  • What am I going to teach my daughters about Beauty?
  • And most importantly, what does the Word of God say about Beauty?

Join us as we converse about a topic that touches the heart of all women.

Dearest Melissa,     

Before I get started, I must ask your forgiveness. Three weeks ago you wrote a beautiful letter in response to mine. You poured out your heart, and offered grace to me.

And my response? Lady Gaga.

The post really was well-intentioned. I didn’t mean to put Lady Gaga up on some pedestal. To be honest,¬†saying I “love” her might have been a bit of¬†a stretch.¬†Truth be¬†told, I know nothing of her politics, personal life, or even all of her music. I do enjoy grooving to her¬†tunes when I’m working out, or¬†to motivate myself on¬†my way to work out.¬†As I told you in an email—if Amy Grant could kick it like¬†Gaga¬†does, I’d totally¬†jam to that.

I realize, too, that both the song and the Glee episode had implications of homosexuality. I absolutely did not want to go there. There was truth in the message, for what it was, without opening that can of worms.

My letter was on topic, as far as our theme about Beauty, but it ignored the words from your heart. You are right, friend. When things get serious, I tend to find ways to interject humor and fun. All of that is well and good, but not when I ignore you and come with my own agenda.

Thank you for your grace in your response last week. Please forgive my insensitivity?


So, in light of my words above, I in many ways, feel like I’m responding to two your letters.

A few weeks back you wrote these words:

Our histories are meant to be told because they are parts of His Story. Our histories, however sordid or bleak, are meant to be told, meant to be shared as the beautiful gifts that they really are!

Julia, we can’t hide our history. We can’t toss it out in the trash like a group of journals and live as if it never happened.

I love this.

It made me think, oddly enough, of The Ugly Duckling, the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. Hang with me. I know it’s random. I can explain.

You know the tale. A mother duck’s eggs hatch, and one of the ducklings¬†has brown feathers, and isn’t beautiful like the others. He suffers ridicule and torment over his appearance, and wanders from place to place¬†searching for love.¬†After surviving the cold winter alone, he joins a flock of swans, because he realizes that he is one of them. Finally–he found love and acceptance.

Hans Christian Andersen was once asked if he would ever write an autobiography. His response:
It’s already been written–The Ugly Duckling.” ÔĽŅ
Isn’t that¬†my autobiography and your autobiography¬†too, Melissa?!
We¬†have wandered through life looking for love, for beauty, for¬†acceptance. We endured cold winters alone—those years the locusts ate.

It’s all part of His Story. You’re right—our stories need¬†to be told.

Danny Kaye (the other guy, not Bing Crosby, in the movie White Christmas) sang a song called, The Ugly Duckling.

The lyrics say:

Till a flock of swans spied him there and very soon agreed
You’re a very fine swan indeed!
A swan? Me a swan? Ah, go on!
And he said yes, you’re a swan
Take a look at yourself in the lake and you’ll see
And he looked, and he saw, and he said
I am a swan! Wheeeeeeee!

You’re a swan, Melissa. You’re a swan, because¬†God made you. He made you beautiful, out of his very own image. He¬†redeemed you, and your story–His Story.¬†You went¬†through the ugly-brown-feathered awkwardness and wound up¬†like this:


Only God can make ugliness like that so beautiful. You, my friend, are a very fine swan, indeed!