Have you ever had a person in your life who truly saw you? That someone who saw past your appearance, your habits, and your quirks and saw the value in the very core of who you are and unfailingly loved you anyway, as flawed as you were?
Betty was that person for me growing up. Betty was a friend of my mom’s (and, really, friend to all!) and she is one of those rare gems that makes this world a better place. She lived on a ranch about 45 minutes from our house and that ranch is still one of my happy places. My sisters and I used to go out there and climb huge piles of hay bales, help with the feed truck, slide down sandhills, and write messages to planes using cow chips.
Betty makes the best mac and cheese on the planet, she throws a mean 4th of July party, and she is always welcoming friends, family, and friends of friends/family into her house. You would be hard-pressed to find a better cheerleader, supporter, and encourager. She readily shares her time and talents (and she is chock-full of amazing talents!), and she throws kindness around like confetti, covering everyone who comes near her from head to toe.
Living Within Your Insecurities
I was the fat kid. It’s the first thing people noticed about me, so it was often a large part of how they formed their opinion of me in those years. It was the piece of myself that I was most insecure about, but also the part that was impossible to hide from others.
Around most people in my life, I felt like my weight defined my potential. I used my insecurities to create these walls of a comfort zone for myself. I felt like my being overweight was a burden on everyone in my life.
So, instead of living for experiences or for a purpose, I lived to please. And I kept my opinions, my personality, and my uniqueness safely locked away to avoid being even more of a hindrance to anyone.
I tried to be the person who was easy to be around – the person who went with the flow, smiled a lot (whether I felt like it or not), doled out compliments like nobody’s business, and avoided conflict. It was incredibly limiting and stifling, but it’s how I thought I needed to live.
I allowed my insecurities to be the defining authority in my life, and because of that, it was characterized by fear and doubt.
But around Betty? I didn’t feel like the fat kid. When I was with Betty, I felt like I could dream bigger, speak louder, and be loved and accepted being wholly myself.
When I was in third grade, I made it to the district spelling bee where Betty was one of the judges. I was shaking like a leaf up there on stage and, after a few rounds, I misspelled the word “trumpet.” It was an easy word and I knew it. I was so mad at myself for messing up and walked off that stage hanging my head in embarrassment. Afterward, Betty came over, gave me a big hug, and told me what a wonderful job I’d done.
While the voice in my head was full of harsh condemnation and criticism, Betty softly but firmly spoke words of encouragement.
When I was about 9 years old, I wanted to learn to drive their ranch truck. They taught me…and that day, I came within a centimeter of backing into their garage. I braced myself for the reprimand for not listening well and being irresponsible, but the reprimand never came. In its place was patience and support to try again.
Betty showed me there is so much security in a love that doesn’t have to be earned, and that you can love someone just as fiercely through failure as you can in their success.
You Just Never Knew How Easy It Was To Love You
I never understood how Betty did it. How she could see past all of my flaws and mistakes and still unfailingly love me was beyond me. I was so awkward and uncomfortable in my own skin, trying to hide behind baggy clothes and frizzy bangs. I had no idea who I was or where I fit.
But she always seemed to just know that I was capable of more. She saw me when I couldn’t even see myself. And her unwavering belief in me gave me confidence that I could be the person she saw me as.
Last Thanksgiving, I wrote her a Facebook message thanking her for everything she has been to me in my life. She wrote an incredibly sweet response that ended with the line, “You just never knew how easy it was to love you.”
And that sentence stopped me in my tracks. It’s a phrase that I’ve been churning over and over in my mind ever since. I certainly don’t remember being an easy girl to love and I know there are some differing opinions out there (just ask my older sisters how easy I was to love at that age!), but it got me thinking…How many people are out there walking around feeling unlovable like I did? How many people are living within the walls of their insecurities, completely unaware of their immense value?
Pass It On
And it inspired me.
I so desperately want to show that Christ-like grace, love, and affection to others. I want to be the voice that helps people replace their guilt with God’s grace. When you feel awkward, uncomfortable, and incapable, I want to add that soft but firm whisper in your ear that reminds you that you are far more amazing than you realize. I want to be the voice that boldly shouts your value, especially in the midst of the devastation of failure.
Can you imagine how the world would change if we all became just a little bit more like Betty? If we could be more patient as people grow, more understanding when they fall, and more outspoken about all of the wonderful things we see in them?
As you go through your day today, I hope you realize just how loved you really are just as you are. I hope you have a Betty in your life to remind you and remind you often. And I hope that you can be that Betty for the people in your life.
It is not only a life-changing but a life-giving power that we hold in our hands. Use it! Use it well and use it often.