I just picked up a Tim McGraw cd the other day (it’s not a new one, I’m just slow). My favorite song on the disc is called “The Beautiful People.” (the lyrics are a bit off on the linked site–I submitted corrections!)
The lyrics tell the story of three people: Carl–a guy with a beat-up car, a bad haircut, and a missing tooth; Debbie Jo–a single mom who burns the toast at the diner where she works, a bit on the chubby side, stuck in the town for life; and a wrinkly old man.
There is more to each of their stories. Carl dresses up as Santa and visits sick kids every Christmas. The kids don’t care about his car, his hair, or his teeth. Debbie Jo is only stuck in the town because she stayed around to take care of her mom. Now that Mama’s gone, she still visits the nursing home. And the old man is a WWII vet, draped with medals from his heroism on Omaha Beach, who just lost his grandson in Iraq.
These are beautiful people with stories of sacrifice, service, and selflessness. Yes, I know they’re fictional–but there are more of them in this country than people in New York and Hollywood could ever imagine. As the song says, “There’s a lot like [them] around, in every town.”
Before I even bought this cd, I had been seriously thinking about what kind of beautiful I’m trying to be. I spend an enormous amount of mental and physical energy trying to look like what I think I’m supposed to look like. (A lot more mental energy than physical–if I equaled the mental with the physical, I’d look like Evangeline Lilly.) All the while, Pete keeps telling me that I don’t need to change a thing. Of course, I don’t believe him (see “Granddaddy’s favorite quotes II“). Instead, I internally berate myself for every lump and pimple. I look at magazine photos and television shows and, for some reason, actually think that I’m supposed to look like the images I see (nevermind all the retouching that goes on at Elle and Vogue!).
And yet, when I actually think about who I love and admire in real life (as opposed to two-dimensional people on lit up screens and glossy pages), I never notice their lumps and pimples. I don’t notice their cars or their clothes. Or, if I do, I compliment them, but they don’t affect my feelings for the person. When it gets down to it, I am not quite sure who I’m trying to impress.
I faithfully rise at 5:15 every weekday so I can do “My Workout” on Lifetime TV. I keep track of all my carbs and fats–I would tell you my system, but it’s so organized, it’s embarrassing. Meanwhile, my Bible and devotional books sit on the table next to the couch, where they’re usually read, but not always.
The other day, I started wondering what early-morning image my girls will remember of me as they get older. Based on the present, they’ll remember me on the floor, in my workout clothes, stretching. Not a terrible image. Maybe they’ll adopt healthy habits themselves. But I’d prefer another image. In this one, I’m still on the floor, but I’m kneeling in prayer.
That would be beautiful.