Unexpected Blessings from Cancer

You’re Still Beautiful

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Isn’t that what you hear when someone or something is essentially unattractive? Each morning when I looked in the mirror, I wondered how God could view me as beautiful. I certainly didn’t look or feel beautiful with my bald head, twelve eyelashes, and sixteen eyebrows. The chemotherapy was causing hair all over my body to become less and less each day. I no longer had to shave my legs (at least that was a perk) and my otherwise hairy arms now looked as if the hair had been singed and lightened. I felt exposed, vulnerable, almost naked like my long-haired dog did when he accidentally got shaved.

Many mornings I wrestled with human emotions versus godly truth in front of my bathroom mirror. I convinced myself day after day that although I didn’t see myself as beautiful at least God did, and that would have to be enough. “And let not your adornment be merely external – braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God” (I Peter 3:3-4). Because I believed God’s Word, I had to believe I was beautiful in His sight. Maybe my appearance had been altered but my heart had not changed.

Let’s not forget how the future king of Israel was chosen when the prophet Samuel was sent to anoint him. When Samuel saw Eliab, the oldest and perhaps tallest son of Jesse, he thought to himself that surely Eliab was the chosen one. But the Lord told Samuel, “For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (I Samuel 16:7).

So you see our mind can fool us. Our emotions can fool us. They will tell us one thing but if we believe our own perceptions and feelings without weighing them against the truth of God’s Word, we will deprive ourselves of the rich blessing to better understand the unconditional love and acceptance our Lord has for us. Needing this tangible reminder, one day I went to the mailbox to retrieve the mail. I hoped there would be a card or note of encouragement as I was in the midst of my cancer treatment. On this particular day, I noticed a postcard addressed to me. It was one of those “praying for you” kinds of postcards that the church provides for members to send. The postcard only has a line or two for a personal message. I flipped the card over and read the message. It was only three short words but I’ll never forget them and their impact. Three handwritten words that could not have been more perfect with my hair falling out and my self-esteem plummeting. You are beautiful. I immediately broke into tears. Yes, I was, wasn’t I? I really was even though I felt plain and pale. I needed that reminder. And I desperately needed the blessing that came with it. The timing was impeccable. I don’t remember who sent the postcard but this I know: it was a message from God. He knew my tears, He knew my thoughts, and He knew my heart.

Let me be the one to say to you today – you are beautiful. You’re still beautiful regardless of your altered appearance, temporary or not. Believe it and be blessed by it.

This blog contains an excerpt from the “Confronting Cancer with Faith” book written by Karen Allen. See the link on the blog homepage.  

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