No one had EVER told me what my drama coach was telling me. Ever. In an improv level one class in 2004, the teacher was telling me that it's okay to be ugly. I remember the words sinking in and settling down into my soul
My whole life, either intentionally or implied, the messages I had gotten where pretty similar: Do your best. Look your best. Wear a little make-up when you go out. Lose 10 pounds. Stand up straight. Be nice. Strive for perfection... and only then you will be good and loved.
No one had ever said, "Lisa, it's okay to be ugly."
On stage doing improv (a drama art form where you write stories and create characters in the moment), I have learned many concepts that directly parallel a healthy Christian life: it's okay to be ugly, support your team, say "yes" to ideas, give good gifts, help someone when they make a mistake... the list goes on and on.
That moment on-stage began unraveling an incorrect truth I had embraced. I believed that if I was pretty, good, and perfect, God loved me. But if I was ugly, bad, and messed up, God would be ticked at me and turn His face away in disappointment.
But here is what is actually true: Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
In John 8, Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
God doesn't love you because you are good. He's not mad at you when you are bad. Our perfection does not make us more like Christ. We are all monsters. We all need Jesus. When you are wrapped in the glory of Jesus, all God sees is perfect beauty. Not yours, but His.
Paul called the best things he'd ever done "filthy rags" in comparison to Christ's works. There is nothing you can do to achieve God's grace. It's for you no matter what you've done, the only response to this Great Love is to offer our lives back to Him, loving Him and others with our whole heart. And His life through ours will bear the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
So just in case you didn't know: it's okay to be ugly. When you are, He still loves you exactly the same.