Oh…she’s gorgeous. My heart sank a little as I saw Ann Voskamp’s words, so inspiring and life-changing on the pages of her book, come to life in her small group study DVD. Her book, One Thousand Gifts, has been life changing for me. But her voice, decidedly sultry, didn’t match the one I heard in my head as I’d turned those pages late at night. Her hair, a beautiful chestnut color, sat atop her head perfectly coiffed, not a strand out of place. And I’m ashamed to admit, I grew a bit jealous.
I had a hard time really hearing her words, as the video artfully moved through images of her hand crafting scratch loaves of bread, children running barefoot through bucolic scenes, ripe wheat gently waving in a morning breeze, antique-yet-fresh home decor and furniture pulled right from a Pinterest dream board. Well no WONDER she’s so darn grateful for her life. No WONDER she can sing God’s praises every day. LOOK at her. Her life. Her home. It’s all…perfect.
Only, I KNOW better than that. I know her life was pierced with tragedy at an early age. I know the outfall of that grief gripped her soul for many years. I know her teaching is Biblically sound, and incredibly intuitive. I know she’s very intelligent, and a skilled writer. I know that raising six kids must be incredibly challenging. I know. I know. I know.
And yet, I embarrassingly displayed, at least in my heart, a type of reverse snobbery. She looked too good. Too pulled together. Too well spoken. If it were a man who appeared this way, would I accept him? Of course. Because I would have assumed there was some woman behind the scenes pulling it all together for him. But a woman. A woman? She is not so unlike me, except her child-rearing duties are tripled. She lives on a farm. Enjoys simple things. Loves her rugged husband with abandon. And yet our lives, at least on the outside, are very different. My home is a hodgepodge of styles, or non-styles. I buy my bread, and any attempts to make it from scratch are in the bread machine. And I even fail at that. My hair is like a mop on my head, only styled in those Facebook pics I post. (I rarely do my hair or makeup on any given day.)
While we scold and chastise those who belittle those less fortunate, or less attractive, or less intelligent, why do we not hold ourselves to the same standards with those who have more than we do? Or at least appear to? Why was I so quick to judge her based on her appearances, when I knew better? All I know is that I should have known better. I’m an advocate for healthy media images for girls and women. And yet, when faced with something that seemed too good, too beautiful, my first reaction was to shun, to downgrade, to give less credit. Shame on me. Shame. It was through no fault of this woman that I felt this way, but rather my own insecurities. But I feel that I’m probably not alone in this. I imagine that other women feel this way, too. But why? Why can we not celebrate women who have something we don’t? Or why do we put so much stock in their physical beauty, and not look deeply enough into their souls?
Ann has a beautiful soul. And mind. And heart. And it just so happens that God has graced her with physical beauty, too. It was my reaction that was ugly, one that I’m not proud of. But how do I handle these reactions moving forward? How do I embrace teaching from any worthwhile source, and not fall into the treacherous habit of reverse snobbery? Here’s how:
1. Instead of watching hair, clothes, makeup and belongings, watch actions, words, motives and intentions.
2. Remember that what you see online and in the media is often a highlight reel. With the right lighting, close cropping and skilled producers, your home or life would look pretty fantastic, too.
3. Realize that there’s probably an aspect of your life that others are jealous of. Maybe it’s your tight bond with your children, or your new vehicle, or your trim waistline. Whatever it is, you probably don’t want to be judged negatively for it.
So there you have it. My confession of discontent that flies in the face of the greatest lesson One Thousand Gifts has to offer. In all circumstances, all situations, we must THANK God for what he’s given us. Thank him for the unique beauty his masterful hands have created. You.