My friend and sister Redbud, Judy Douglas, shared this poem at a writer’s retreat I attended last weekend. I thought it was so sacred and special that I had to share it with you. It was originally published on Judy’s blog,
The poet, Beth English, has served on the Cru Campus staff for 42 years and has also served with her husband in Eastern Europe for seven. She and her husband have been married for 40 years and have 4 adult children. She writes and speaks on Emotional Developmental Stages of Women’s Lives and speaks at women’s conferences.
When I was Beautiful by Beth English

Grandmama, she says,
Unearthing a photo of me when I was sixteen,
Her blue eyes sparkling,
Blonde hair floating about her shoulders,
Sunkist cheeks flushing pink,
You used to be beautiful then!”
“Then?” I think, “Then?”
But say instead, “You think so?”
“I know so!” she says
In that definitive little way of hers
As if she has the world figured out—
Daring it to deviate from her determined point of view.
“Then” I think, but do not say,
“Then I was beautiful?
What do you know of beauty?”
Me at sixteen,
An unlined, unblemished face
In an artificially arranged
Studio with soft lighting?
I tell you, my girl,
I am more beautiful  now than I ever was,
With my soul worn down, smooth, and resilient,
Like the soft blue jeans you always wear,
Like supple leather pounded with rubber mallets
From worries I could not stop
And storms I could not control
Soothed only with the peace
Of God’s presence
And friendship
And empathy.
I am more beautiful now that I ever was.
If I were a rose I would be a Queen Elizabeth
Full of scent and elegance.
If I were a tree I would be a towering redwood
With roots that go deep.
If I were a voice,
I would be a whispered caress.
If I were a stone,
I’d be the solid foundation of a home.

I am more beautiful than I ever was.
I am enduring, I am weathered,
Rounded as river stones from a swift current,
Hammered, hammered flat as silver
By my mistakes and erroneous judgments,
Tempered by tragedy,
Softened by storm,
Kneaded by need
To the Potter’s pliable clay.
If I thought You’d listen,
I’d tell you the way to become beautiful
Would be to let the storms rage,
To fix your hope on the lighthouse,
Shining in the worst of weather,
And to let life’s arrows pass through
Your quivering body
Knowing He will heal you,
Even when you think it is impossible.
Though you would hear
You would not listen.
For these are the lessons
You must teach yourself.
Have you ever smelled a scarlet rose the very days
Before the petals fall?
Eaten a peach at its ripest,
Juice dripping down your chin?
Tasted a wine
Mellowed to perfection?
This is the fullness of time, my dear.
I am there
And I am beautiful.

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