One of my favorite children’s books is The Ugly Duckling. Do you remember it? Let me briefly refresh your memory by summarizing it for you.
Once upon a time, born into a batch of adorable little ducklings, hatched a large, awkward one. Some might even go so far as to say this little duckling was ugly. Despite his mother’s attempt to protect and defend him, the young duckling endured much heckling and harassment from the other ducks until finally, he couldn’t take it anymore and he ran far, far away.
It was during this time that a beautiful flock of birds captivated his attention. He secretly wished he had been born with even a hint of the beauty these birds gracefully possessed.
The arrival of winter brought with it a cold, miserable, lonely time for the little duckling. Finally spring came and he saw these beautiful birds again and boldly decided to approach them. Anticipating the same rejection he had experienced in the past, much to his amazement, they didn’t run away from him or mock him but instead rushed to welcome him.
At that moment, he caught a glimpse of his reflection in the water. No longer was he an ugly duckling, but through the cold, dark, lonely winter, he had been transformed into a beautiful swan!
The swan was now thankful for his past experiences of pain and suffering because it enabled him to further appreciate the beauty he now enjoyed.
Who would have dreamed that such beauty could have been forged from such ugliness.1
In many ways, I can identify with this little duckling.
Perhaps you can too?
Possibly you’ve admired the beauty, poise and “put-togetherness” you’ve seen in others, but doubted you could experience it for yourself.
Maybe it’s easier for you to believe God can transform the lives of other people, but you’re skeptical He would do it for you.
Possibly, you’ve lived with your “ugliness” for so long, you’re used to it and can’t imagine anything different.
Perhaps the pain of your past is so overwhelming you feel stuck and don’t even know where to begin to experience freedom.
Let me assure you, transformation is what He does best!
As I look back and see how much change and transformation God has brought forth in my life, I am in awe. Areas of my life that I felt completely powerless to change—areas where I felt hopeless—He has lovingly transformed. It’s incredible, really.
It’s a process that God continues to work in my life day after day, year after year. It’s not always easy and it’s not always pain free. I’m not the same person that I was a year ago and, thankfully, I won’t be the same person a year from now.
Although I’m not where I eventually want to be, I thank God that I’m not the person that I used to be.
Sadly from an early age, we begin to believe lies that are subtly sown into our minds and hearts. Even in elementary school, children begin to identify people as “ugly or pretty”,”fat or skinny”, “smart or not smart”, “popular or unpopular”, and “valued or unvaluable”.
As we grow older, these labels continue to shape and mold our identity, influencing the way we see ourselves and other people.
Believing thoughts such as, “I don’t fit in”, “I’m unloved”, “No one understands me”, “No one cares about me”, or “I’ll always be a failure”, over time shape how we see ourselves and affect the way we live.
The way we live is a reflection of how we see ourselves.
Proverbs, a collection of wise sayings in the Old Testament, says it this way…
As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart. Proverbs 27:19
How do you see yourself? What do you think about yourself? When no one’s around. No one is watching. It’s just you.
How you see yourself is a reflection of what’s going on inside your hearts.
Your heart is your true self – the real you.
How’s your heart? In the heart…that’s where the transformation begins.
Think about it…
Can you identify in any way with that little duckling? If so, how?
What present “ugliness” do you see in your life that you would like to change, but struggle to believe that God can transform that part of your life?
What step can you take to invite God to begin his work of transformation in that area of your life?
1 Hans Christen Andersen, The Ugly Duckling