Growing up, I didn’t do well when I was in school. My poorest subjects were English, math, history, geography and science. School was never easy for me, but if you gave me a job or task, I excelled in it.
I was much more of a hands-on learner. I have always joked that I graduated in the top half of the bottom third of my class, and my parents were proud of me. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I discovered I am dyslexic.
When I entered junior high, I had a choice of what classes I could take. Our art class offered pottery, leather work, painting, etc. I excelled in all the things you could make with your hands. But I have a problem; I have a habit of my confidence outweighing my abilities.
Let me give you several examples. I took three years of shop in high school. I made my first small project, a small mahogany desk with iron legs that I bent and welded. The desk was beautiful, but the legs weren’t even and required something under them to keep the desk from wobbling.
My second project? A seven-drawer bedroom dresser for my parents. It was solid maple with four big drawers on the bottom and three smaller ones across the top. It was a good-sized dresser, and my mom used it until she went home to be with the Lord.
I am glad the dresser was in the bedroom because the door fronts weren’t exactly straight. One drawer face went slightly uphill while the other headed south. Again, my confidence outweighed my abilities.
In the 7th grade, I took a leatherworking class. For my first project, I chose to make a personalized handmade belt. I spent hours working that leather, wetting it down, using a swivel knife to trace over a pattern and stamping a beautiful edge and my name across the back. That wasn’t hard at all.
For my second project, I chose to make my mom a leather over-the-shoulder saddle handbag. It was a pretty big project with a picture of a horse’s head on the front and a stamped background. I spent the rest of the semester pounding away on that cowhide and then stitching the pieces together.
Everyone else was making a bookmark or another belt, but not I. I was making a purse that could carry a newborn. I gave it to my mom, and she carried that leather weight around for years.
As I got older, I could see how childish the work was; it was downright ugly. I was embarrassed that my mom was walking around in public with that hideous purse, and I told her she didn’t have to use it anymore. But she kept it for a long time.
It took me years to understand why she would carry around something so ugly. She didn’t see the ugliness; she saw the love behind it. To her the beauty was not in the creation but the love of the creator who created it.
Many years later, I finally get it. I am now the proud owner of the ugliest stuff in the world. Things my children and grandchildren have made for my wife and me adorn our home. They cover our refrigerator, hang on our Christmas tree and walls, and are displayed on our T-shirts. One of these days, our grandsons will recognize the ugliness of their early scribbling, but to me, their efforts will always be beautiful. I look past the scribbling and only see the love of the creators who created it.
You see, it is the love of the Creator who gives you and me our beauty. Why do you think that John 3:16 is the most loved and quoted Bible verse in the world? Because it starts out, “For God so loved.”
This is why I view myself as ugly. Yep, I am just like you. But when I look through the eyes of the Creator Who created me, only then does my beauty comes forth. For all the questions I have asked myself—“Why do I look like this?” “How come I have no athletic ability?” “Why do I struggle with trying to write something?” I hear “For God so loved.”
He made me this way because He loved me. What we call ugly, God calls beautiful. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Ps. 139:14).
Whether it is a wobbly table, a dysfunctional dresser, an ugly purse or even one’s own self, all of these were called beautiful because someone recognized the love of their creator. This means you and I are beautiful—because “God so loved.”