Jody Wilson, Jody’s JournalThe way she looks has been a lifelong struggle for Sylvia*. When she was just a little girl she had the misfortune to overhear a houseguest tell his wife, “I thought Sylvia was ugly the last time we saw her, but I declare, she’s getting uglier.” “It must be true,” Sylvia thought. “Because Mamma never tells me that I am pretty.” Even when she wore a new dress there was no compliment from Mamma. But then Mamma was a beautiful woman.So Sylvia grew up deeply self-conscious about her skin that was well populated with pimples. Her teeth protruded and they were a far cry from sparkling white. She had heavy eyebrows that almost met in the middle. Her teenage years were an exquisite kind of misery. She buried herself in her studies. And she was smart enough but there were no fellows knocking on her door pawing the dirt to take her out on a date. She was ugly. It was a fact that she had to face. And there was very little she could do to change that. “Somebody should have drained the gene pool before I came along,” she thought grimly.But Sylvia was not without some sterling qualities. She was loyal, courteous, and dependable. She followed instructions well. And her teachers knew she was trustworthy and always finished the task. But everybody knows that’s not what guys are looking for, that’s for certain.When she married the first time she felt especially favored because her husband was not a bad looking fellow, an awesome catch for her, actually. But he was incredibly vain. She found herself in the eternal triangle. They were both in love with the same guy. He picked up where the houseguest left off, mocking her appearance. “You are built just like your daddy!” he slapped his leg in laughter. “It’s a good thing I’m around to help you choose your clothes. “Otherwise you would look like a Goodwill rag bag.” His antagonism didn’t do much for Sylvia’s confidence.When it was time to do pictures for the family it was obvious which one in the family was photogenic. It certainly wasn’t Sylvia. Her husband would gripe endlessly about how horrible her picture was. What did he think she could do about it? She talked with the photographer and called his attention to the picture. In the picture I don’t have any eyelashes or a lip line. His curt reply was chilling, “The camera takes what it sees.” Well, so much for that.So Sylvia’s appearance was a tender spot that she guarded. Even when she remarried a most affirming man, she still avoided looking at pictures of herself. If someone had a camera she tried to stay behind the guy taking the shots. But sometimes she was just trapped. A camera popped up and someone was happily clicking away taking random shots. It was bad enough when it was her family. That was at least tolerable. And mercifully, they did not drag out the photographs too often.But she was attending a public event. The photographer was on the job recording the evening. Sylvia was horrified when her photo ended up in the local newspaper. She thought she would die. She looked at the picture and cringed deep inside. Maybe nobody would notice it. It’s not like it showed up on the front page.Sylvia thought perhaps those people closest to her simply did not mention seeing the picture in the paper. She was relieved and truly grateful.She finally breathed a sigh of relief when there was no feedback regarding the picture. She had finally put it out of her mind and moved forward. That is until she made a phone call.She dialed the number and reached the business establishment she needed. But her contact person was out at the moment. But the lovely lady on the phone began, “Sylvia, I saw your picture in the paper!” Sylvia held her breath. “You are as cute as a spotted puppy with a big red bow around its neck! I loved it!” Sylvia was completely taken aback. She was cute? Cute as a spotted puppy? With a red bow around its neck? Sylvia stammered, “Well, thank you so much. You are so kind.” She said goodbye and put the phone back in the cradle. Then the truth of the situation slapped her in the face.Sylvia thought, “That dear lady loved the picture. She didn’t think it was gross.” She sat quietly for a moment. “She sees me differently than I see myself. In some small way she loves me and she does not see all the flaws that scream at me from the mirror.”A quiet, peaceful feeling enfolded Sylvia. “When people love me their eyes don’t capture the same reflection I see.” Sylvia hugged these words to her heart. People who care have forgiving eyes. The truth of a generous, loving lady made a huge difference in Sylvia’s day. And over time, they will temper all the negative thoughts Sylvia has when she looks in the mirror.Dear Reader, you are more than the image on a photograph. You run deeper than your reflection in the mirror. You may be unable to change your physical appearance much. But loving, caring people in your life will dismiss any flaws you perceive. And their encouraging words will move you to the place where you can even learn to love yourself.And who knows? Maybe someday you’ll believe that you are as cute as a spotted puppy with a red bow around its neck.*Name has been changed.