The Bright Side: Grace

Published 2:00 pm Wednesday, March 20, 2024

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This one’s going to be for all my beautiful ladies out there who at one time or another haven’t felt like they are enough. We’re going to get deep here. I’ve debated writing this column for a long time – too long – and some things have come up recently that I cannot disregard any longer. Let’s talk about our self-perception, the grace we may or may not lack for ourselves and how no matter what anyone says, we are ALWAYS enough. Even better, we are beyond beautiful, talented, capable, intelligent, and the list goes on and on …

As a seventh-grader, I was very self-conscious. So, when an eighth-grader asked me for a dance one evening at their middle school gymnasium, I was over the moon. No one had seemed to notice me before. But this was different, this was special. For privacy purposes, we’ll call this eighth-grade boy Chad. Chad was in the band and labeled as a bit of a nerd by his classmates, but he was kind and saw something in me that he liked. We formed a bond after that dance and would talk regularly over the phone, as we didn’t see too much of each other in school.

The spring musical was coming up shortly after we met and all grades fifth through eighth were involved. It was a pirate-themed show, and the seventh and eighth graders performed side-by-side on their respective bleachers. News had spread through the small Catholic grade school that Chad and I had formed as much of a “relationship” as two middle-schoolers could have. So, the whole eighth grade class took it upon themselves to turn simultaneously during musical practices and stare at me. They chuckled when my face turned beat red. I heard their comments at recess: “It makes sense they’re dating, they’re both weird,” “He couldn’t get anyone in his own grade so he had to find someone younger,” “They’ll never last when he goes to high school next year,” etc.

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On the night of the spring musical, I went into my mom’s bathroom and took her Venus shaving razor out of the cabinet. I went to shave the little dark brown hairs between my eyebrows because someone earlier that week had pointed out how noticeable they were. I pushed the blade too hard against my skin and took off a few layers. I was left with an obvious tear in the skin that was profusely bleeding (all my ladies know this struggle). It took about 30 minutes to completely stop the bleeding, but the redness was sure to stay. No amount of concealer could cover up this imperfection – so I performed with a big red spot in between my eyebrows. Everyone noticed – especially Chad and his classmates. He never called me again after that night. I received an e-mail from him a year later apologizing for the abrupt end he put to whatever it was we had. He added, “But we both knew it wasn’t going to last.”

Last week I had my annual OBGYN exam and stepped on the scale prior to my appointment. I haven’t been on a scale in a while. I have actually been purposely avoiding them altogether because I know how I feel when I see the number. It’s never a number I like. A pit formed in my stomach the second I stepped off the scale and I wondered why I even started going back to the gym. “You’re not losing any weight, you’ve actually put more on than before,” I started telling myself.

Prior to a haircut appointment that week, I went to Goodwill to find a shirt to wear on St. Patrick’s Day. Instead, I found the prettiest high-low bohemian dress with built-in shorts. It was stunning: colorful, flowy and was the perfect outfit for summer at the beach – and it was a medium! How could it not fit?

Well … it didn’t. It was extremely tight around the thighs and didn’t zipper all the way. I was mortified.

The next day I looked in the mirror and noticed my eyebrows: “Are they thinning?!” Then I saw the creases on my chest and the “extra” skin around my upper arms. I ordered vitamins at Walmart to pick up the next day along with more metabolism supplements. I told myself I would stop going to get coffee because I don’t need any extra sugar and I really need to get on this weight-thing. “What if your husband notices how much weight you’ve put on since you met him?” “What if you lose all your eyebrow hair?” “What if, what if, what if, what if …”

A few days later I looked in the mirror again. I was avoiding seeing my reflection, but had to get ready. My vision started to blur and I started to see my features melt away. Then God’s voice came almost as soft as a whisper in my ear: “Grace,” He said. “What do you mean God? What about grace?” He answered: “You are Grace. I created you with Grace. You ask me for Grace, and I grant it. Now, it’s time you have Grace for yourself.”

The truth, my beautiful ladies, is that God asks all of us save some grace for ourselves. He created us, did He not? Does He create anything other than masterpieces? Never. He never makes mistakes, He never delivers any less than the absolute best. So, why not see the beauty He has created in each and every one of us? We are perfect in His eyes; eyes that have nothing but grace to give. Instead of looking at the latest “imperfection,” let’s instead look at the soul He crafted and the colors he blended and the light that shines through us. Because yes, we are beautiful, but we are so much more than that, too. “Enough” doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Danielle Puleo is a staff writer for The Coastland Times. Reach her at