The Most Beautiful Thing You Can Wear
The Most Beautiful Thing You Can Wear
My daughter is in gymnastics. Her teacher is an incredibly beautiful college student. The girls in her class all love ‘Miss Courtney,’ and I think my daughter secretly doesn’t ever want to move up in levels, because she doesn’t want any other teacher. Miss Courtney is gorgeous with a perfect tan, beautiful hair, eyes, etc., etc. And yet, when I ask my daughter what she loves most about Miss Courtney, her response is always the same – her smile and her laugh.
When I talk to the other moms as we wait for our little gymnasts, everyone talks about how great Miss Courtney is and how much their daughter loves her. And the first characteristic that is always mentioned is, “She’s so sweet.”
You guys, seriously, this girl could model. She’s gorgeous. But over and over, from so many different people, her physical beauty isn’t even mentioned. What’s talked about is her smile, her laugh, how sweet she is, how good she is with the girls, how happy she is, how joyful she is. Her inner beauty – especially her inner joy – shines even brighter than her picture-perfect outward appearance.
And yet, when my sister and I were talking with her one afternoon, we learned that she had been going through a devastating time in her life. She couldn’t even speak about the situation without tearing up, and yet, through it all, her eyes shone with genuine light and despite her circumstances, she demonstrated joy. Not joy in the suffering, but joy in the many blessings that she could still thank God for. Despite being devastated, she knew that it would one day be OK. And when her little team came into the room, she took a really deep, really brave breath, smiled her bright, cheerful smile that lights up their every Tuesday and Thursday, and ran to meet them.
A smile in the midst of pain is not always a mask, oftentimes it’s a beautiful act of bravery.
Her pain was real and deep, and she wasn’t masking it with her smile. What she was doing was choosing happiness and joy in the midst of it. She could be joyful for her young class because she had developed the character trait of joy in her life and so even in difficult circumstances, she made decisions to be happy and joyful, to focus on what was good, and live life fully. As I sat and watched her laugh at their silly answers to her questions, flash her pretty smile, give high fives and words of encouragement when they did well, and spread her joy to tired little five-year-olds who had just finished a full day at kindergarten, I was in awe of how meaningful her joy was, even in the midst of the trials going on in her life.
Wess Stafford says, “Joy is a decision, a really brave one, about how you are going to respond to life.” I thought about that, that day as I sat and watched her. Life had thrown her some difficult circumstances, but she was choosing joy even in the midst of it, and as a result, she was spreading joy everywhere she went.
That’s a brave, beautiful woman right there.
Marilyn Monroe once said, “A smile is the best makeup any girl can wear.” And it’s true. The most beautiful thing a girl can put on is a smile.
Beauty takes effort.
If you’re like the majority of our population, you spend some amount of time every morning getting presentable for the day ahead. Some people brush their teeth, get dressed and run out the door. Others spend a couple of hours washing, drying, primping, fixing, covering, and enhancing their appearance before starting their day. Most of us probably fall somewhere in between.
My mom always used to say she couldn’t start the day until she put her ‘face’ on. And she didn’t. She wouldn’t leave the house or typically even eat breakfast before her teeth were brushed, her contacts were in, her hair was fixed and her makeup was on. In the stage of life I’m in, I’m happy to get 30 minutes to grab a shower and throw on a little bit of makeup while the baby naps, the toddler watches a show, and Ali colors, and yet I still make it a priority every day.
In the same way, as women of God, we have the opportunity and responsibility to put on the things of God every day. It takes a conscious decision. It takes intentional effort. Demonstrating the fruit of the spirit does not just happen. It doesn’t come naturally, as it’s contrary to our human nature. We have to develop and put on these characteristics, just as we have to put on foundation, eye shadow, mascara and eye liner. Like lipstick, we have to put on joy – put on a smile. And like lipstick, we have to reapply it every time it comes off throughout the day.
That one little thing – a smile – is the first thing most people notice about you. According to a survey conducted by Kelton Global on behalf of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, 48 percent of adults think a smile is the most memorable feature after they meet someone for the first time. In comparison, the spoken word only got 25 percent of respondents. The way someone dresses brought in only nine percent and the way someone smells raked in only eight percent of respondents.
So, next time you spend fifteen minutes deciding what to wear or half an hour picking out the right perfume and lotion, remember that the one thing that people will notice and remember about you more than anything else is the easiest thing to put on – your smile. And yet, it takes intentionality to choose happiness and to put that smile on, just like it does to get dressed and apply your cosmetics. (Read more about choosing happiness here…)
So, this week, every time you take a moment to put on your lipstick, make sure you’re putting a smile on, too. And every morning when you get ready for the day, be intentional about putting on joy and the things of God as well. It’s not only the most beautiful thing you can wear, but it’s something you can share with everyone around you.
“Every time you smile at someone it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” Mother Theresa
This is the third blog in an eight week series on happiness. To make sure you don’t miss the next five, sign up for my newsletter!