And provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes.~Isaiah 6:13 (NIV)
“You’re worthless. You’re ugly. Who would want someone like you?”
These are a few of the words spoken over me as a child. Heartbreaking, demoralizing words that destroyed my self-image and stripped me of any confidence. I’d often stand in front of the mirror, staring at the person looking back. Are those words true? Am I worthless? What is wrong with me? I’d stare for a long time, trying to understand the reasoning behind this cruelty.
I began writing down those nasty words others called me. Not to remember them, but to one day destroy them. I hid them in a box under my bed. Day after day and week after week, I added more words. The day I saw my box full, I cried. So much hurt was inside it—and this box reflected what was inside me.
Tired of writing them down, I decided to give it up.
For months, I didn’t write anything down, eventually forgetting about my box. Then one day, while I was working on some papers, my pencil fell and rolled under my bed. Reaching for my pencil, I felt it—my little box of horrors. I retrieved the box and blew the dust bunnies off. I’m not sure why I thought the words might have changed. Wishful thinking probably. Or maybe I took them too seriously.
Taking a deep breath, I opened the box. The first paper I pulled out was, “Worthless!”
Tears collected in the corners of my eyes and rolled down my cheeks. I wept harder as I read more. Why did I bother? Nothing had changed. Who could find any beauty in a messed-up me? My eyes heavy, I nodded off to sleep.
Looking around, I heard my name but didn’t see anyone.
This time, I saw Jesus walking toward me. I noticed I still held my box. I didn’t want Jesus to see it. I quickly put my hand behind my back.
“What are you hiding,” Jesus asked.
“You know you can tell me. I love you.”
“No, I can’t. All my ugliness is in this box. You won’t love me anymore if you see what’s in it.”
“That, my beautiful daughter, will never happen. I will love you anyway.” Jesus gazed at me.
His smile melted my heart, and His words brought peace to my soul. Inside I knew I could trust Him. I held out my hand. Jesus took my box. I couldn’t help but cry.
“I have something I want to give you,” He said, wiping away my tears. “But first we need to burn this box.”
“Oh, I’m not sure I’m ready for that,” I rationalized. “Everything in that box is who I am. It’s all I have known. I don’t know any other way.”
Jesus walked to another part of the park. “Are you coming?” He yelled out.
I walked to where Jesus stood. A fire burned in a pit. I saw a box, bigger than mine, leaning against a rock. A part of me got excited that Jesus wanted to give me a gift. But it also meant letting go of those words from my past. If I let it all go, what would happen?
“Are you ready?” Jesus asked.
“I don’t know if I can. If I burn what that box says I am, who will I then become?”
~Isaiah 60:1 NIV
Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
Jesus stood up and put my box in my hand. “See my box? I promise you that what’s in it will show you who you are. But you need to burn your box first.”
Though scared, I took a deep breath and threw my box into the fire. It quickly burned up, leaving only ashes behind.
“Now,” Jesus said, “Bring me those ashes.”
I scooped up the ashes and gave them to Jesus.
“Wonderful,” Jesus said, smiling. “Now, go open your new box.”
Inside my gift was a mirror with Jesus’ picture on it. I held it up and gasped. My face was inside of Jesus’ face, as if we were one. Light from the sun reflected off the mirror, giving rays of beautiful colors all around. It, no I, was beautiful.
“When you look at this picture, you see that I am in you, and you are in Me. We are one–together, forever. I’m giving give you a crown of beauty to be carried with you always.”
I woke from my sleep and walked to a mirror. For the first time, I saw a different me. A beautiful me. Jesus gave me His beauty for my ashes. My smile was huge. I turned to leave, but turned back. I straightened my imaginary crown I knew really existed in the spiritual realm, gave a little wink to myself, and went on my way, never to be a person with the ugly box again. It was ashes, and I was Jesus’ love.
Jesus can give you beauty for your ashes also. But you must be willing to give Him the ashes of your past hurts.
Are you willing to give Jesus your box of uglies and exchange it for His love?
My Beloved Jesus, thank You for turning my box of uglies into ashes and for remaking me in Your image. Thank You that because You love and created me, I become more beautiful every day as I spend time in Your presence.
Genre: Non-fiction, childhood memory; Fiction, dream sequence to give biblical answer
Copyright 2022: My Box of Uglies: Sandra Stein: All Rights Reserved