In His Image
Amanda had become used to being left alone to play on the floor in the nursery, while her sister played with the other kids. When parents stopped by to see how their kids were doing, they always had a smile or hug for her sister, Greta, but none for her. Greta started day care at the age of three, while Amanda stayed at home. At first she loved being home during the day with Mommy, but as time went by and she still didn’t start school, Amanda began to question her parents. They muttered something about her being too young and quickly changed the subject.
Then one day when Amanda was five years old, while she and Greta played in the bedroom, Amanda crept over and looked in the dresser mirror, then back at her sister. For the first time she noticed that her upper lip was almost non-existent, and it seemed to have a scar down the middle.
Amanda began to cry and ran to find her mother. “Why didn’t you tell me I was ugly?”
Her mother put down the dish she was drying, found a chair, and sat Amanda on her lap. “You’re not ugly. You’re beautiful.”
Amanda cried harder. “I’m ugly. Something’s wrong with my mouth, and … when I speak I sound funny.”
Mother was silent for a while then she said, “Mandy, I was waiting until the right time to tell you. I think now’s the right time.” She paused. “You were born with what is called a cleft palate, and when you were a few months old you had an operation to fix it, but you still have to have some more operations.”
Mother went on to explain what an operation was, then ended up by saying, “You’re beautiful to me, and you’re beautiful to God. He made you just the way He wanted you.”
Without a word Amanda jumped from her mother’s lap and ran out into the yard. It was a bright sunny day, and everything seemed perfect. The sky, the flowers, the birds, all seemed to project themselves into her senses. God made all this, she thought. He must be beautiful. The next minute her mind whispered, “And He can never love you.”
After some years Amanda had more surgeries, and she did look better but her self-esteem remained low. She started going to school, but never seemed able to make friends the way her sister Greta did. She still thought of herself as ugly, but even while she did so, her love for beauty grew.
Amanda graduated from high school, and decided to pursue a degree in Art. She began sketching everything that caught her fancy, but the landscape was her favorite. She also loved going to the beach and sketching the ocean. Everyone praised her work, and she won several awards.
One day Greta asked, “Why do you use charcoal, of all things?
Amanda thought for a moment, then replied, “Because it fascinates me that so much beauty can come out of something that looks so ugly.”
She reflected on her answer later that evening as she sketched by the beach. Laying her canvas aside, she stared at the ocean. “God,” she said, “You made so much beauty. I see You in everything around me, everything I draw, but still I would like to see Your face, for You are Art in Perfection.”
Through the roar of the waves, Amanda heard, “Go home and look in the mirror and you’ll see Me, for I created you in My own image and likeness. You are art in perfection.”
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