Ever since I was little, I’ve loved animals of all shapes and sizes. I especially liked drawing them. I loved to capture the grace of a galloping horse, the flight of an eagle, or the detail in a butterfly wing. Animals are still my favorite artistic subjects.

However, I am NOT a fan of spiders. Let me rephrase that. I HATE spiders.

Yes, I definitely consider myself an arachnophobe…probably without good reason. It’s true, most of them are harmless to us. And they do good things for the environment. But I ask God time and time again…”Why do they have to be so UGLY? Even scary-looking?” A big enough spider will send me screaming in the other direction until someone vanquishes the hairy beast. Deep inside, I know the thing isn’t going to hurt me, yet it LOOKS so menacing. Maybe it’s because they have too many legs. Then again, I don’t run screaming at the sight of the Rockettes in the Macy’s parade.

What if a spider looked more like a butterfly? Would they be more or less hideous? Granted, the thought of a flying spider sounds absolutely horrifying. But a pair of gossamer wings wouldn’t change what the spider is on the inside…a bloodthirsty predator.

The one positive attribute I can give to a spider is the astounding construction of its web. A web can be a beautiful tapestry, with dewdrops gleaming in the sunlight. I do like looking at webs…as long as their creator isn’t sitting there.

Most people can agree that spiders are ugly (no offense to the 3% of you who are spider-huggers). But when it comes to judging the perfection of the physical attributes of our own kind, we humans have far more complicated standards. Some of us, myself included, always feel like we can never measure up to our society’s standards of beauty.

Somehow, it doesn’t matter if you can spin a web, paint a masterpiece, write and sing a song, or perform a successful brain surgery. It doesn’t matter if you spend your life helping the poor, inspiring the weak, or tending to the sick. Our culture deems us unsatisfactory if we don’t look like they want us to.

This twisted thinking has not only dominated the secular worldview, but has also made its way into the church. How many gifted people with willing hearts get passed over because they aren’t models of physical beauty? How many kids get ostracized in their youth groups because they are perceived as “different”? And how many single women get turned down for dates because they aren’t “hot” like an actress or model?

But here’s the thing…regardless of what our society says, God doesn’t make junk! We are all human, and we ALL have flaws and imperfections. Even models have to be Photoshopped to attain their cover status. So what can we do? Well, we can’t change our culture’s attitude toward beauty, but we CAN embrace who we are and what we have to offer the world. We can keep trying to better ourselves–our health–both physical and spiritual, our relationships and our abilities. And we can remind people that inner beauty is what really counts, even if they don’t believe it’s true.

Maybe next time I see a spider, I’ll be more considerate. Maybe I’ll even pull out a sketchbook.

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