“Sometimes you just have to fake it ’till you make it. Well, at least that was the case for me when I wrote the song ‘God Loves Ugly.’
I knew all the right words to say and all the right truths to spout off. I had the appropriate scriptures memorized as a good preacher’s daughter should, and could paint on a big, teethy smile on command, masking the volcano of emotions bubbling underneath my perfectly applied makeup.
You see, I knew the truth in my head, but I didn’t believe it in my heart. Yet.
Growing up, I’d heard the phrase ‘God loves you’ more times than I’d eaten Cheerios. That one was simple enough to believe and seemed to make sense. God created us as His kids, so He loved what he had created. Fair enough. But then I began to hear things like, ‘God loves you no matter what you do—and there’s nothing you actually can do to make Him love you any more or any less than He does at this very moment.’ (Thank you, Mr. Max Lucado, for hammering that subject home on my first tour with Michael W. Smith in 2002).
Whoa, now hold on a hot minute. Isn’t love contingent on performance? I mean my best friend in elementary school loved me as long as I shared my Ludens cherry cough drops with her. Then my high school comrades liked me because I was funny, partied, and kept them amused—oh, and it didn’t hurt that I was stacked with admirable talents. Talent always scored a few extra points for acceptance. Rejection felt worse than walking barefoot across shards of broken glass and almost always came when you did something below the bar. So how could God love me as a constant screw-up? Didn’t He remember all the times I had lied, cheated, stolen, got wasted out of my mind, laughed at His people, or yelled at Him in anger and disgust?
Then on top of all that, I had this heart that seemed more like a pincushion than anything. The devastating daggers of peoples’ words sliced and diced my soul like a carved tomato. You know, things like, “You’re ugly and no one will ever want you,” or “We can’t stand you,” or…well, the Rolodex of tormenting phrases liked to flip through my head on a regular basis.
I sat on my bed in Nashville, Tennessee, listening to the planes fly overhead in the deep blue sky. Holding on to precious truths I was desperate to believe, I picked up my guitar and began to play. I knew that I was loved so completely and so fully, that nothing I had ever done or could ever do would take that love away or make it wax and wane. I didn’t quite believe it enough to live it yet, but I wanted to. I was determined to. And I knew that writing a song that declared those truths over my life—that championed my own mouth to sing in faith, to hear the words, to water my tattered soul—just might be the actual medicine I needed to get to that high peak of believing.
Hoping for something never changes anything, but believing produces action. And action changes everything.
I sat with my guitar, letting the contents of my soul bleed out onto paper.
You said that I wasn’t pretty
So I just believed you
You said that I wasn’t special
So I lived that way
With critical gazes and brutal amazement
At how my reflection could be so imperfect
With all of my blemishes how could somebody want me
But God loves ugly
He doesn’t see the way I see
God takes ugly
And turns it into something that is beautiful
Apparently I’m beautiful ‘cause You love me
I tried to clean up the outside all shiny and new
Worked overtime to thin up and look right
But inside I knew
Deep in the bottom were secrets I thought I could try to ignore
Old ghosts in my corridors never get tired of haunting the past that’s in me
Help me believe why you love me
Cause I know you see, you see everything
Help me believe why you love me
Cause I know you see inside and you still say I’m beautiful
You’re telling me I’m beautiful
You’re screaming out, so beautiful
And I’m finding out I’m beautiful
You’re making me so beautiful
And I can see I’m beautiful
Cause you love me
I’ve sung this song hundreds upon hundreds of times. And every time I sing, I let the words marinate my soul a little deeper, like pouring warm honey over the broken cracks of my past. I sang this song until I believed this song.
And I don’t just believe the words, friends. I’m living them.
I believe that I’m beautiful because God has loved the barren places of my life into lush, green, breathtaking reflections of Him. I believe I’m healed because of His love, that I’m whole because of His love. In fact, His love has been the answer to every problem I’ve ever faced, the medicine to every sickness of my heart, and more precious to me than my next breath.
Being loved unconditionally really does turn the ugly places in our lives into something beautiful.
And I’m living proof of it.”
***FREE SONG DOWNLOAD!! — The first five readers to Tweet about this blog and tag both @jfreakhideout and @godlovesuglybk will be given a free download of Christa’s song “God Loves Ugly!”***