One of my favorite movies is about the author of The Ugly Duckling – by Hans Christian Andersen. Written in 1844, it depicts a duckling who isn’t accepted by the other ducks because he’s so homely. Cast off and made to feel badly about himself, he is lonely and wonders why he was created to be so ugly. He grows ups lonely and quits looking at his reflection – it’s much too depressing. Finally, it’s pointed out to him, don’t you realize how attractive you are? You are the most beautiful of all the birds – you are a swan! In the movie, Hans Christian Andersen makes up the story to encourage a little boy who had been sick and lost his hair; teased and made to feel bad by the other children, Hans tries to encourage him by making up the story. As it turns out, the boy's dad is the owner of a paper and asks Hans to put the story in writing so he can publish it as a thank you for what Hans did. It so encouraged the little boy that he actually smiled for the first time in a very long time.
Isn’t it strange how deeply words can hurt! As an abused child, the beatings that I got growing up were very painful but the pain of the beatings went away a very long time ago. Remaining is the pain of the words – “you’re so dumb!” “you’re so lazy, lazy susan!” and the worst was “what makes you think you’re so special that anyone would want to talk to you!” Even though after I left home, I worked through the abuse issues – without my parents admitting error or asking for an apology – but I still struggle with the hurt of the things said to me. In my mind, I know that Satan is using those hurtful things to try to pull me down. For years, and to some extent now, anything said to me to imply a low intelligence – well, you would have been better to just hit me. Since leaving home, no one, - absolutely no one, has ever come close to suggesting I was lazy. Growing up, it wasn’t an accurate description of me – I did most of the laundry – including ironing – and would come home from school and fix dinner for the family before leaving for work; upon returning from work, I’d do the dishes that had been left from the family having dinner. Having moved around a lot in my married life, trying to make friends isn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done – I’m naturally shy. When friendships don’t come easy, the echo of “what makes you think you’re so special that anyone would want to talk to you” replays in my mind.
God made each of us as a special individual – no one else is exactly as we are. The experiences of our life prepare us to make a difference to possibly only one other person – or to hundreds of others. Psalms 139:13 – 15 King David tells us
“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
God prepared me long before I was born to use what ever happened to me to not only be a servant of His, but being a servant I could use life’s experiences to help others. I wasn’t the “ugly duckling” or the “lazy Susan” nor was it true that no one would want to speak to me! I AM special – God made me that way! I can sing His praise and thank Him for all His wonderous blessings! When God has placed something I need – exactly when and where I need it, I know that before I was even born, before my parents were born, God knew I would need that exactly at that moment.
What would happen if I chose to say “poor me” and allow all the hurtful words to hold me down, to turn my back on God and others? Well, for one young woman, I know that she might not have survived the abuse she suffered as a child. I shared for the first time what had happened to me as a child to a group of women in a St Louis class. Following the class, this young woman thanked me and told me she knew if I could survive what happened to me, that she could survive what happened to her because her abuse hadn’t been as bad as what I had suffered. I hadn’t wanted to speak to that ladies class. Also, all the work I do with children wouldn’t have happened or still be happening. I may never know the way my work with children over the years has made a difference for all those children. As life’s road for me has changed what I can do, God continues to open doors for me to serve Him in a variety of ways.
No, I’m not an “ugly duckling”- God made me a swan!
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