Here she is.
I was thrilled when I received the artwork back from Charles Peters, who designed the cover for Beauty and the Bitch: Finding Grace for the Worst in Me. The design captures well the secondary message of the book. There is a tenacious hardness inside of us – a bracing that shrouds the powerful life we can offer – and it disappears when we let go and relax. Check out the woman’s face. She has a stunning and majestic jawline, exquisite skin, full and pouty lips, eyes that could be brilliant if they weren’t … well, inflicting the damage of dismissal. Her posture says it all: I wince to be in your presence; I disdain having to participate in relationship with you, I am above you, I am inaccessible, I am cold as ice. I am in control.
But if we could crawl inside her heart, in the deepest place where her story is held, we would find whispers of the primary message of the book: the beauty of God cannot be destroyed. Embedded in the place where God’s fingerprint resides is the indestructible longing for the beauty of God to show itself. Even in our most intractable and hardened state, this beauty rises without apology, and consistently knocks on our stubborn door to be let out. As it says in the book:
“Beauty shows up in a family tradition, a spontaneous song on a quiet morning in bed, or when we laugh at the sight of a hummingbird’s bomber-like descent only to come to rest on a spindle of a blossom. It appears as we feel the elbow of the Spirit in our ribs as we catch ourselves in our most practiced prideful arrogance. It tips its hand as we weep sweet tears when we remember an exquisite grace granted to us during a lonely time. It is different for everyone.
It also lingers in the bottle filled room when a woman allows herself to admit the alcohol is not big enough to hold her heart, or as a friend said recently, “I’m just out of stuff that works.” It pushes its way through the pulse of techno-music and comes to rest in the thoughts of the girl who realizes that the guy’s thrusting toward her on the dance floor was more about her body and fantasy than it was about a genuine curiosity about who she is. She drives home alone - aching but beautiful.”
The fingerprint of God – the merciful, elegant, strong, fierce, wise, warm, inviting, welcoming, comforting image of God was held in the person of Eve (the original Eve, before the descent into suspicion and control). We carry her, and the memory of her ways and her essence, in the deepest place within us. No matter how much our beauty has been maligned, assaulted, ignored or violated – no matter how much we have hidden our loveliness or tried to shut it down – the original design of God refuses to be erased. Again, from the book:
“Our genetic heritage comes seeping out – we may have never visited, but our hearts have rehearsed the stories of our homeland countless times without even realizing it. Even if we live in the heart of the city, or have a life dedicated to the slums, our hearts are beckoned back to Eden beauty even by a lonely butterfly landing on a trash can.”
Envision for a moment how the face of the woman on the cover might change if she risked letting go of her own control - if she listened to her deepest heart? Imagine her posture, her stature, her eyes, as they were originally intended. What does your face look like today? What is your posture? How is the beauty of God rising in you today?