When I was a child I read the Ugly Duckling tale as an encouragement. No matter how fat, thin, plain, boring, spotty, gap-toothed, knock-kneed, freckled, short, tall, smelly, snobby or just plain ugly I was, eventually I would turn out to be beautiful.

When I was a teenager I wised up somewhat. No matter how many faults, frailties, defects, failings, flaws or weaknesses I had, I would somehow turn out to be unique. No matter how much I failed to measure up to expectations, no matter how much I was bullied or picked upon, somebody somewhere would love me. Hopefully.

Hans Christian Andersen wrote a tale for children about family, acceptance and personal transformation. Like all good fairy stories it is simple in its approach but reaches into the depth and insecurities of our humanity. It challenges our expectations, promotes personal acceptance and teaches us to look beyond the superficial.

I am now an adult of middling years neither ugly duckling nor beautiful swan. I am content to live as God directs, hoping for eventual beauty in Christ, but accepting of life’s transient ugliness through this time of transformation.

I’ve left behind my naiveté that one day I will be so beautifully unique I will be acceptable to all and loved by some. I have instead embraced a Saviour who can make me new and return me to a Father whose love will never fail.

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure.
1 John 3: 1-3 (NLT)

The Bible teaches us that the world will not always accept the beauty of Christ but will, instead, embrace the ugliness of sin. That those who follow Him, may be like the ugly ducking and rejected by their peers. But in this we must take heart, for our eventual beauty comes not from a fairy story but from the true story of Jesus Christ.

Fiona McDonald
Director of National Ministries