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October 30, 2012
Goodness Matters
Pretty Is as Pretty Does
by Vickey Pahnke Taylor

I heard the adage, “Pretty is as pretty does,” hundreds of times as I was growing up. It took a while for me to understand the message. It finally clicked, years later, that my mom was expressing, in real terms, this message from the scriptures, “The fruit of the Spirit is love” (Galatians 5:22).

We are Christians. We follow Him and are led by Him. We become more attractive, appealing, good people as we accept and work on eternal concepts that make us more, well, pretty.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, an observation that seems to have come from Plato, is so true. It’s all relative. “Good” is relative. So is “pretty.”

Let’s look at “pretty” as something much more than what the eye sees at first glance, and go for the core meaning of beauty, as our Savior may view it.

How kind are we? How forgiving? How easy to let go of hurts and give the benefit of the doubt? How anxious to find something awesome in every single day? How busily engaged in spreading smiles and happiness?

I think our “pretty quotient” is wrapped up in these kinds of questions. They’re thoughts that would have us pondering more on how Jesus Christ wants us to live, and making a distance between us and the grabby pettiness of the world.

A fellow I once knew was very picky about whom he asked out. I watched him, and commiserated with him, as he worried over marrying. As he wallowed in misery over not finding a wife. As he, time and time again, found fault with young women (a lot of really pretty ones) who weren’t quite up to his strange, up-in-the-clouds standard of True Beauty. It was ridiculous.

Short story of it all: He eyed a certain young woman in his graduate class, but said she wasn’t pretty enough. I had to close my eyes so he couldn’t see them rolling in my head. I encouraged him to at least ask her out.

He did. Then he asked her out again. And again. It seems the more he got to know this woman, the more beautiful she became to him. Her appearance hadn’t changed: his perception of her had changed. She was oh so pretty — because she was so pretty on the inside.

No longer did it matter how she measured up to some mythical, silly world-meter of appearance. He knew of her incredibly good heart and her kindness.  She was the living, breathing version of “pretty is as pretty does.”

They married, and are, so far, living happily ever after.

In an overview of your life, what kind of grade would you give yourself? What if you were to step away from thinking such things as, “My nose is crooked,” “I’m not tall enough,” “I’ve got wrinkles,” “I need to lose weight,” “My hair is ugly,” “I’m not smart enough,” and all the dumb issues that cloud our view of who we really are?  Based upon how you treat other people and how you view, trust in, and follow the Lord, could you give yourself a good grade?

I have asked myself that question so many times. Some days I grade myself higher than others. Sometimes, it’s a grading system that varies by the hour. Or by the mishap.

But if I keep this concept in the back of my mind, I’m less likely to dwell on foolish notions of temporal, physical grading, where I can never measure up to her or him, to Sister So-and-So or Brother Whoop-De-Doo.  That is just silly. And unnecessary. And contrary to the way the Lord works.

President Gordon B. Hinckley’s counsel is a reminder of the way to be beautiful:

Cultivate an attitude of happiness. Cultivate a spirit of optimism. Walk with faith, rejoicing in the beauties of nature, to the goodness of those you love, in the testimony which you carry in your heart concerning things divine. (“If Thou Art Faithful,” Ensign, November 1984, p.92.)

I love his counsel! It’s the heart of the matter, and the using of our mind — God’s crowning creation — to do good, and seek righteousness, and be pretty. That’s good stuff.  And goodness matters.

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