When I was about 7, I played soccer. I can wait here for a moment if you want to recover from the shock of that sentence, but it’s true – I played soccer voluntarily and I have the awkward pictures to prove it. My favorite year was when I on the Purple Cobras team – besides having an awesome name, we were actually pretty decent. We were going to be able to go to the playoffs/championships/whatever happens in soccer if we won just one more game. We tried our best, but we could only tie, and in the end the other team had had a better season so they got to go to the next round (for the love of all that is holy, someone please tell me what it’s called in soccer).
We were so disappointed, and I remember some of the girls on the other team had not been the most gracious winners. This prompted a time-honored tradition: a bunch of girls talking smack about the girls that wronged them. The highlights of the conversation were how the other team had obviously cheated and how they had probably only won because they had stupid ponytails.
I was getting a few good insults in when my mother broke away from the group she was talking to, pulled me aside, and said only, “You are being ugly.” Before you call retro-active DFACS, my mother was not commenting on the rockin’ shade of purple we got to wear that year, or the matching, perfectly round purple glasses I was sporting. She wasn’t even talking about my giant hairbow, which I think would have been acceptable because that thing was pretty gross-looking. That was my mom’s way of telling my siblings and me that we were being mean or rude, and that we were to stop it.
I grew up with that phrase being said so often that it never occurred to me to think about it – it always equated in my head with “Don’t be mean” and that was that. But I think there’s more to it than that. Or less, depending on how you look at it.
When I am mean, I am ugly. When I disrespect my parents, I am ugly. When I cut someone off in traffic or gossip about them or break a promise to them, I am ugly. When I judge someone and silently thank God that I am obviously so much better off, I am ugly. When I am doing anything but living for Jesus, I am ugly. I am ugly and there is no way to hide it. We all hear that beauty comes from the inside. I think the same goes for ugliness. Because it doesn’t matter how many great things we’ve done in a day, or how often we deign to be nice to someone we don’t really thinks deserve it – without Jesus, we are ugly. Even with Jesus, we can be ugly (see soccer story above…) when we forget to show His love to others. And it seems almost silly to say, because even as I’m writing this it just seems so obvious. But for something so obvious, I sure do have trouble living it. Being ugly is easy. Being pretty is hard. But I think it’s worth the effort.
Anyway. I just wanted to share that. And to, you know, call you ugly.
PS Shout-out to Miss Thelma, who is definitely not ugly and who a) called me perfect today and b) told me she actually reads this… thanks, Miss Thelma! If any of you see her at church, give her a high-five and some candy.