How Understanding My Native American Roots Made Me Feel Beautiful
There’s a huge difference between resigning oneself to a truth and embracing it. I spent years recoiling from and rejecting the image in the mirror. I had finally healed enough that I was no longer condemning or criticizing myself with every glance in the glass, but I still hadn’t come to a point where I could say I was truly beautiful. I had been programmed and indoctrinated by the lies of perfection for too long, so I resigned myself to the fact that I would never be beautiful, and that was okay. At least I didn’t feel like the ugliest person on the planet anymore.
But resignation is an empty resolution. It doesn’t bring satisfaction. The desire to feel beautiful is embedded deeply in the heart of every woman and girl. I couldn’t help but feel an emptiness in my chest. There is a sense of loss that wraps its icy fingers around the heart of every girl who succumbs to the belief that she is not pretty, that she is not enough. That grip is hard to loosen. Although I had stopped hating myself, I wasn’t truly at peace. To be at peace is to be in alignment with God. Accepting that you will never be beautiful is out of alignment with how God sees you. And, as long as you feel that way, you create enmity between you and God, and you cannot have true peace.
There was still a hole in my heart.
On a particular day, this emptiness weighed heavily upon me. I deeply desired to believe and know that I was beautiful. I prayed with sincerity for God to show me in some way that I embodied physical beauty. We all have inner beauty, which is real and lasting beauty, but every girl needs to feel beautiful on the outside too.
I climbed onto my treadmill and began to run. Exercise is a sacred time for me, quiet. I listen to the silence and receive. As my breaths became heavier my thoughts settled on my ancestors. I’m a bit of a genealogy buff and have done quite a bit of research on several family lines.
I first thought of my maternal grandfather and the gifts and traits I had acquired from his line. My thoughts then jumped to my paternal grandfather’s side and quickly settled on my Native American roots, a line I had studied only a little, but which has been well documented historically. My 7x great-grandmother was an Native American Princess, daughter of the Chief of the Unami Tribe, Turtle Clan, of New Jersey (now called the Lenape or Delaware Tribe). This princess married my 7x great-grandfather, whom the Unami people loved, and whom Tom’s River New Jersey was named after.
A sudden thought swept through my entire being, causing chills to run up and down my entire body: I look like my 7x great-grandmother and, more specifically, I have some of her facial features! The thought was unexpected and strange, and yet the Spirit had spoken it so clearly. I could not deny the powerful witness I felt inside of me. My likeness was in the image of my 7x great-grandmother, a Native American princess!
How could I reject that?!
I let the idea sink into my heart. It felt good, warm, true. I had no proof. And yet, I had all the proof I needed because the Spirit had spoken it.
Of course, after I had finished exercising the analytical part of my brain kicked in. Well, it said, you only have about .09% Unami blood. Is it even possible for you to have a genetic resemblance after that many generations? So, I got online and did a search, and what I found amazed me. Several paintings and photographs of individuals with up to an 11-generation gap showed incredible resemblances, and that facial features can indeed appear in a person’s descendants much later on.
To me this research was a second witness of what the Spirit had witnessed to me. Perhaps certain features on my face are slightly different than hers, due to facial injuries and additional DNA influences, but the Spirit was very clear that I resemble my 7x great-grandmother. And she was a princess. I understood why God chose to reveal my beauty to me through this knowledge. Heritage is a thing to be proud of, to embrace. It is because of who our ancestors were that we are who we are. Their lives made our lives possible. In studying genealogy I have gained a deep respect for my forebears.
God has been trying to tell me for years that I am beautiful. He has given me many signs and clues. Now he has given me the knowledge of a heritage that includes a grandmother who was a princess among her people, the daughter of a chief. And I am her descendant, created in her likeness. And that is something I can embrace. I would never dishonor her memory by saying I am ugly.
God’s Spirit works in mysterious ways. When we are sincere in our requests, he speaks to us in ways that will be meaningful and powerful to our hearts. What has he been trying to teach you about a yourself?