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Discovering our inner beauty

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” — Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Every man, woman and child has something beautiful about them. It may not always be on the outside where it is obvious to those passing by. The greatest beauty of any human being lies in the depth of the soul.

Most of us are insecure about our looks. We all have things we’d like to change. Too tall, too short, too fat, too thin, too fair, too dark. The list is never ending.

I’ve gone through thousands of photos in the last three weeks of women I’m photographing for the book Warrior Women, The Power of Prayer. Because I’m not a professional photographer and don’t have big expensive equipment, I take way more photos than I need to. I try very hard to get at least a few shots that the person will feel good about, but I am always looking for that one picture that captures the essence of who the person is on the inside coming through in the photograph of their outside.

As I have looked through the camera for many years, I have learned to see people differently. I believe I’m developing the ability to see human beings as God sees us. We are his children. We are His creation. When He looks at us, He sees us through eyes of love.

That doesn’t mean that God is okay with our foolishness or our sin. He doesn’t think our behavior is beautiful when we are deliberately being disobedient, drowning in addictions, or hurting other people. Even then, He sees us through eyes of love. He sees our potential and what we could become if we choose to enter a relationship with Him at the center.

In the Bible book of I Samuel, God says that God sees us, not as we see each other. We look at each other’s appearance, but God sees beyond the exterior and looks at our heart.

The Psalmist declares, “For you created my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful.”

One of the great lessons I’ve learned about photographing people is from my dad, Ernest Hensley. He always smiles when someone brings out a camera. At 86, that hasn’t changed and he still looks good in his pictures because his smile is the first thing that stands out.

When we look at ourselves in the mirror, it is usually with the goal of checking to see if we look alright to go out in public. We look for the flaws and try to fix them so we will be socially acceptable or even attractive. That seems to be human nature.

I have a really hard time with people who are always looking for everyone else’s imperfections and pointing them out. I believe it signals that person’s own insecurities. Finding fault with everyone around them must make them feel a little better about their own shortcomings in some twisted way. I’m so thankful God sees us exactly as we are – and loves us anyhow.

God looks past the wrinkles, the battle scars and the extra pounds. He looks at the intention of our heart. He sees His own handiwork in us. His signature is written across every face, shape, body type, color and age. Inner beauty starts with a heart that is filled with love for God and for humanity. Nothing on the outside will ever be able to compete with that.

Reach Judith Victoria Hensley at judith99@bellsouth.net or on Facebook. Check out her blog: One Step Beyond the Door.