46. Beauty Worth Praising

46. Beauty Worth Praising

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Inner Strength

Beauty Worth Praising

I learned there is a blessing sent from God in every burden of sorrow.

~Sherrie A. Hundley

My husband played professional football in the NFL for eleven years. It was an industry that made it easy to be consumed with tanning, mani/pedis, gyms and spa treatments, just to mention a few. Glamorous girlfriends and wives consistently raised the standard of beauty.

Early in my husband’s career we were involved in a freak kitchen accident resulting in third degree burns from the hot oil in a fondue pot. I sustained the greatest trauma, so the doctors life-flighted me to a burn unit. After a month-long stay, a few surgeries, and four skin grafts, I went home. Forty percent of the front of my body, including my face, was burned. The doctor prescribed compression garments for me to wear from my toes to upper abdomen for a full year.

My confidence was challenged by the new normal I faced. I grew up playing sports and always took care of my body, but this time I was not able to work off my scars in the gym. Make-up made me feel like a clown. Our tragedy stripped me of the beauty that made me feel accepted, normal, and worthy. I had to grieve my old looks to make way for a new confidence that was not dependent on my appearance.

Wearing my compression garments for a year had its challenges because we lived in hot, sunny Florida at the time. My new wardrobe consisted of long sleeves, pants, socks, closed-toe shoes, and a hat. Not only did I have to forego fashionable clothing, but the sun I once loved became unbearable for my tender skin. I would sweat rather than expose my unattractive compression garments.

For many reasons, it was a trying, difficult time in my life. Getting out of bed was just plain hard. I had a sweet friend who would meet me at a nearby gym every day, and we would work out or take a boot camp class to stay in shape. When I woke up each morning, I immediately put on my running shoes. My actions told my brain, “I will follow through with what I know is good for me today.” This simple act of putting on my shoes got me out of bed and on the right track.

My confidence was severely shaken but over time my faith helped me find the strength to develop a new confidence based on my inner beauty, not on my outward appearance. “I am a burn victim” became “I am a dearly loved child of God” (Colossians 3:12). When I became confused and leaned toward unbelief, God’s word reminded me, “I have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). I chose what to set my thoughts on and which thoughts I believed. When I felt alone, God whispered, “I am with you” (Joshua 1:5). When my physical reality screamed louder than God’s eternity, the “God of all comfort” would break through my isolation and comfort me (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

I cried out to God, and He answered. Joy filled one day, and discouragement the next. God continued to teach me, love me, and encourage me. My circumstances wanted to define me, but God gave me a new identity. My desires morphed into the desires of God’s heart. My thoughts centered on Him rather than on myself. Instead of allowing my past to push fear into my mind, I chose to focus on what God had to say about me. God’s word directed my thoughts and focused my mind.

As I focused my thoughts on God’s truth and sought His hand in my every day, God created a new heart in me. My heart began to love deeper and trust more easily. My confidence was in Him alone, and He became my strength, allowing me to love others.

It took time for the compression garments to smooth out my scars, and it took time for me to learn how to capture my thoughts and replace them with God’s truth, but it was worth it. A stubborn joy grew inside of me, proclaiming that God will use everything for His good. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised (Proverbs 31:30).

I would not wish for anyone to be burned. But on this side of my healing, I am grateful for the spiritual muscle I developed because of my burns. My old confidence that had been based on my looks faded, replaced with my new confidence based on who I am and what I believe. My new reality brought new freedom because I chose daily to surrender it to God. It was a tough process not performed perfectly, but God used my baby steps of obedience to create a confident heart in me. My appearance in no way affected my husband’s success on the football field. A trip to the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl rewarded my husband’s hard work, but gaining inner strength remained our greatest reward.

~Kasey Hanson

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