I’ve always been a little different. I can hear my friends now, eyebrows raised, asking, “A <em>little</em> different?” Okay, maybe a lot in many ways. My best friend recently said to me, “Don’t take this personal or anything, but you are one of the most shallow people I know and yet, of of the most profound.” I suppose she’s right.

See, beauty is something that I am not really willing to settle on. I suppose I am very visual. I see beauty in some really unique places. I see it inside people and it annoys the crap out of me when the person has tried to hide or dim their beauty, consciously or unconsciously, in order to feel safe, accepted, or loved. It also annoys me to no end when outer beauty becomes a replacement for inner beauty. Beauty is at the essence. When it is known, embraced, accepted, it shines outward brilliantly. You know what I am talking about here. It is a radiance that attracts you like a moth to a flame.

I live adjacent to the national forest. Thousands of trees are in view from any window in my house. There are similarities in species, though no two are the same. They don’t seem to judge one another. They sometimes even hold each other up when one falls. There’s one tree on the trail that is probably 40 feet tall. Somewhere up around the 30 foot mark, it curves almost 90 degrees and then curves at 90 degrees again to allow the last 5 feet to reach to the sky. I have no idea what happened in this trees early life, but it clearly was not letting it impact its purpose to be here now and keep growing all these years.

Every day I see people who let what happened in their formative years stunt their beauty and growth. They blame others for their flaws. They wear their wounds like badges of honor to get attention, respect, sympathy, and maybe even love. What their hearts are longing for most, they are unwilling to give to themselves. The world they perceive is not beautiful, peaceful, joyful, or loving. It’s hard, challenging, cold, and lonely. They judge others and compare themselves in an attempt to gain power. They’d rather be right than happy.

<strong>I often wonder, what if… </strong>
What if they simply dropped the blame and look at the life they chose to come be in and see it from a 30,000 foot view?
What if we chose this life we live?
What would have been wanting to experience through such this journey, especially in the painful moments? Is it acceptance? Love? Peace?
What if we could truly remember what we wanted to experience as an outcome?
Would we be willing to seek that?
What would acceptance, love, and peace look like? How would they feel? What would change? Would we be willing to accept the beauty that we are, live and grow the beauty?
Or would the idea of that simply be too much to bear?

Have you ever heard of Amy Purdy? http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_purdy_living_beyond_limits#t-379435 She lost both legs to meningitis. She went into her shadows for a good while before she finally decided to take responsibility for her life. She used the borders of her own physical limitations to get creative. She used her imagination to breakthrough. She chose to look at her limitation as a blessing to write something more infinite than she had previously known as truth. Ms. Purdy is beautiful, inside and out.

What makes her different from anyone else who has faced adversity? She chose to go beyond. She chose to see life better than imaginable, which required a great deal of imagination. She chose not to stay stuck. Then she took inspired action. Like the tree, her body isn’t as it started, but it is functional and beautiful, inspiring and life-giving.

I want to challenge you today. As you face those old stories of limitation, be willing to ask the “what if” questions that will springboard you beyond the borders of a limited reality into a new story. Share your experience of inquiry below. I’d love to connect with you!

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