Here's an excerpt from Hannah Coulter that has my mind working.
I was beautiful in those days myself, as I believe I can admit now that it no longer matters. A woman doesn't learn she is beautiful by looking in a mirror, which about any woman is apt to do from time to time, but that is only wishing. She learns it so that she actually knows it from men. The way they look at her makes a sort of glimmer she walks in. That tells her. It changes the way she walks too. But now I was a mother and a widow. It had been a longish while since I had thought of being beautiful, but Nathan's looks were reminding me that I was. (p. 65)If we strive to find beauty looking back at us in the mirror, then we will surely fail to attain it, for in seeking to be beautiful, I believe we give up a part of ourselves to the slavery of vanity; we actually lose beauty. Rather, as we move towards others, allowing them to see us, to take us in, it is in their estimation of us that our beauty lies. It is an openness to being seen, and that is beautiful.
Each of my friends is beautiful to me. I can't help but see them this way. Though I know they strive as I do to dress well and practice some degree of good hygiene, I find that they are no less beautiful to me as when they are in their PJ's after having scrubbed off the days make up.
I guess I want to quit trying so hard to create a beauty in myself, and instead to let the beauty that's always been there propel me towards being more open and emotionally present. It scares the hooey out of me; it really does. But I think it's more honest and life-giving to others and to me, so perhaps it's worth it.