68: True Beauty

Mon Jan 25 19:44:06 EST 2021
Episode 68

Stories in this episode: Wendy's childhood is fraught with bullies and self-doubt until she asks God to teach her what her parents knew all along; A run-in with a trampoline right before the family reunion sends Cassidy into hiding, but she can't hide from the Spirit; When artist Melissa can't find herself in museum paintings of Heaven, she decides to take matters into her own hands.

Show Notes

The middle grade book that Wendy wrote based on her experience:
The middle-grade book that Wendy wrote based on her experience.

Wendy's newest book:
Wendy's newest book.

See more about Wendy and her work here: wendyswore.com

As a child Wendy had a hemangioma on her forehead, her experiences taught her an important lesson about self worth:

Wendy as a child.
Wendy as a child.

The hemangioma deflated enough that Wendy could have it removed when she was 9:

Wendy and her family

Cassidy with a broken nose that she got while jumping on the trampoline with her sons:
Cassidy with a broken nose that she got while jumping on the trampoline with her sons.

Cassidy with her family.
Cassidy with her family.

Melissa at the Deseret Book flagship store with her art.
Melissa at the Deseret Book flagship store with her art.

Melissa's family always encouraged her artistic talents when she was growing up.
Melissa's family always encouraged her artistic talents when she was growing up.

Melissa uses her talents to create art with a diverse representation of beauty, so that everyone can see themselves in the picture:

Melissa 1
Melissa Painting
Melissa 2

Some of Melissa's art:

Melissa art 1
Melissa art 2
Melissa art 3
Melissa art 4

See more of Melissa's art here: tshikamba.com


KaRyn Lay 0:03

Welcome to "This Is the Gospel," an LDS Living podcast where we feature real stories from real people who are practicing and living their faith every day. I'm your host KaRyn Lay.

Today, we're talking about beauty. And I have no quippy intro or funny anecdotes or poems. I don't even really have a good etymology lesson about the word beauty for us. Because here's the thing, defining what is beautiful in today's society, and how that's connected to our worth, and our value – that's a really hard thing for me, personally.

I mean, I can look at some flowers or a flaming purple sunset over the ocean, or even a baby wrapped up like a burrito, and somehow I know that there's beauty there. But how those things are beautiful, and why some things are beautiful to me and not to other people? That's just confusing. Maybe you feel the same way, or maybe you think I'm nuts for being tied up in knots about all of this.

But all I know is that I kind of need something or someone a little bit smarter than me to break it down and teach me the truth about beauty and its place in God's plan.

So if ever there was an episode where I need stories to open the door to new spiritual insights, this is the one. And that's what we're going to do today. We'll listen to three stories from three storytellers who grapple with ideas of beauty, and learn something about themselves and God in the process.

Now, I have to acknowledge that all of our storytellers today are women. And I really wanted to find a story about beauty from a man, because I know that women are not the only ones wrestling with this ideal. But hopefully, regardless of gender, we can open our minds and recognize ourselves in these stories. Our first story today comes from Wendy.

Our first story today comes from Wendy.

Wendy 1:47

So when I was a toddler, I was at the grocery store with my mom, and she was going down the aisles and a woman with a bunch of teenagers came up and pointed at me and said, "Hey, look kids, that kid doesn't need a Halloween costume. She's already got one." And then they all laughed and walked off. And my mom was so shocked. She didn't know what to say.

When I was about two months old, I had a little red dot that was right center of my forehead and it started spreading out and it was a hemangioma, which is a blood tumor. And it was coming out like a golf ball off the top of my head. A hemangioma, it's got lots of blood vessels in it, you can't take it off because there's too much blood, things, going on in the head. It's kind of purple and red. They usually will deflate a little bit when the child is older, more like nine or ten. Until then you just have to live with it.

So I knew I looked different. My mom was always trying to comb my bangs so that they would cover my forehead. I always had bangs right to my eyebrows, but I was an active kid. So you'd run around the bangs would split and you can't cover a little . . . a ball on your head. So no matter what we did, it was always showing and then I would forget that I had it and then run into a new person that didn't know me, and they would stop and stare and look at me and . . . if it was a kid, well, even sometimes adults, then that's when I would get teased for it.

So when I was in preschool, I was going to a religious school and the teacher told the class that I had the mark of the devil and that they shouldn't associate with me because they might be infected by my badness, just because of how I look. So I came home and asked my mom, "How come I have the mark of the devil?" And my mom pulled me from the school – because she's a good mom – and then we had to go find somewhere else for me to go after that.

So my mom and dad both were very protective of me. And they were trying to be the buffer between me and the world. One time my dad, I had told him that I was being bullied and pushed around on the way home from school, and so he waited for me on the porch. And he saw these kids following me home from school and they were pushing me into the street and pushing me down.

And so he came out and told them, "You don't have to be her friend. But you do have to be kind to her, and you cannot put her in danger." And so he was, he was a protector for me. And then right after that, he went to the school and asked them to have a meeting of all of the kids anywhere near my grade and he talked to them all about it. About what a hemangioma was, and that Wendy was a pretty, pretty neat kid if they'd give her a chance, they could be friends.

When my dad came to my school, I felt very special. And I felt very loved and protected because my home and the protection that I had at home extended to this school at least somewhat. They were trying to reach out and, and just have a little bit of a safety net for me farther out than our home.

So when I was about nine, then the hemangioma started to deflate. So it slowly lost the big redness of having all the active blood vessels. And we were able to go and have it removed. I remember in the hospital, my mom was reading me A Wrinkle in Time, as we were getting ready to go back for the surgery. And my mom doesn't even like reading fantasy books, but she would read me anything that I would listen to.

When I came out and had it off, then I traded it for a scar. The scar for a long time was really, really bright. So if I was angry, or exercising or anything, then it was almost as glaring as the thing was to start with. But slowly it faded. And at first I always had bangs, because I was still trying to cover this scar in this place where I used to have this thing that I felt was shameful.

My self worth was something that I did struggle with. Having been someone who was told that I had the mark of the devil, often made me wonder what my worth was. I often felt like there was two faces, because there was this face that the world would see, and then there was the real person inside that didn't have value. Because if I was somebody of worth, then why did I have things like this happen? Why were people cruel?

There just came a point when I realized that I had to make a choice. If I was going to keep feeling this way, if I was going to keep disliking who I was, if I was going to keep doubting whether or not I had any value, or if I was going to believe in myself and believe that I was worth loving. And so I started to read scriptures more and have prayers that were less routine and more heartfelt. And I just started asking that even if I lacked the belief, Christ and Heavenly Father would help me with my unbelief and make up the difference.

A few years went by, and pretty soon I stopped using the bangs, and my parents got me into Taekwondo. And I started pursuing more interests that I loved, like art. So the change in how I perceive myself and where I thought I was, for being worthy to be loved, is not something that happened overnight. But something I had to deliberately work toward. And it's something I'm still working toward, but I think that my mind understands that I am of worth and that I'm worth loving, and that God loves me.

Now my scar, it has faded to the point that most people don't notice it. But I remember what it was like I feel that this whole experience growing up with a birthmark and the other things, I feel that that has really taught me compassion, that when I see someone else struggling, then I try to reach out to them. Whenever I see a kid who has any kind of a birthmark especially, then I run right over and talk to him. I feel it. I know what they're going through. And I know what the parents are going through.

My parents were wonderful examples for me, it was not uncommon for me to go to see them in the evening and to find them on their knees. So in those moments when I didn't have the faith, to believe enough that I had any value or when I didn't have faith enough to believe that someone was there to listen to me, then I could rely on my parents testimonies, because I knew that they believed enough for both of us.

So my whole life whenever I have doubted myself, whenever I have doubted whether or not I was strong enough or smart enough are brave enough to do anything that I wanted to do, then my parents were the ones that were like you can do this. You are a daughter of God and you are of infinite worth. With them believing that, then they were kind of my shield against the world.

And they make it so that I can go out. And I can share my stories and my message and I can achieve dreams that I didn't think were possible when I was little. When I didn't think I had any value at all. And a lot of that is because of the faith of my parents.

So now I have five children of my own. And I have one who wants to be an artist and another who wants to go on a mission and another who wants to make prosthetics for people who are missing limbs, and another wants to be a dancer. And the other one he doesn't know what he wants to do. He mostly wants to snuggle, but the point is that I tell them that they can do anything they want to do, and that they're smart enough and they're good enough, and that they have enough value, that whatever dream they have is valid, and that I will support them in anything they want to do.

KaRyn Lay 11:18

That was Wendy. Wendy Swore is the author of, A Monster Like Me, which is a lovely middle grade novel about a girl with a hemangioma. I love that she's been able to take that love of fantasy books and her own experience and translate that into a passion for telling and writing stories that help us find the humanity in one another.

I was struck by Wendy's description of her scar and the transformative effect that it had on her sense of worth. How at first, it was a painful reminder of something that she couldn't control about her body, something that she felt shame about. But as she prayed and asked for help from heaven to see herself and her value differently, eventually those scars became a gentle reminder of her divine beauty, a beauty that was revealed in her ability to offer empathy and compassion to others.

And here are the truths about beauty that I'm going to take from Wendy's story. True beauty is always present when our actions are a reflection of the Savior. And I believe that it's perceived only through the lens of charity or the pure love of Christ. You know, when Christ returned to His disciples after the resurrection, His scars took on new purpose.

They were more than just a reminder of his past pain, they became a tool of testimony. A symbol to His disciples of his power, and His love for us all. And as Wendy showed us, our scars can also be made beautiful tools of testimony if we allow them to be transformed through the gift of Christ's atonement. And that is really beautiful.

Our next story comes from Cassidy, who's run in with a trampoline right before a family reunion left her with some questions about beauty. Here's Cassidy.

Cassidy 12:59

It was a few summers ago, me and my two sons, after we ate some lunch, decided to go and have a little bounce on the trampoline in the backyard. And we were bouncing and having fun. And my oldest son just did a really strong bounce and bounced up and hit my nose with his head, and it broke right away. I could tell it was bleeding, and if you could imagine my nose, you know, it's straight now, but it was like completely swelling and it was crooked and I had bruising, and I just did not look like myself.

When you break your nose, they can't just fix it right away. I remember going to the instacare and just wanting them so badly to just like, push it back into place, just fix it right away. But they have to wait for – I think – at least a week, in order to help the swelling to go down and the bruising to kind of calm down so they can actually go in and fix it the way it should be fixed.

I had a family reunion coming up, and I knew that I was going to have to go to that before I could have the surgery to fix my nose. And I was just feeling sad that I had to participate in this fun family thing while I was feeling uncomfortable and quite self conscious, to be honest. I didn't like having to go out and about with my nose looking the way that it did.

I feel like sometimes I have the tendency to worry a lot about what people think of me and worry about how I look to other people. And sometimes I fall into, you know, the traps of comparison or not measuring up and so I think all of those feelings were surfacing as I was going to have to be out in public and with my family with my broken nose.

We got ready to go on our trip. It's funny, I still remember I actually asked my sister to pack some hats for me, I'm not normally a hat person, but – and my sister wears hats more often and I was like, "Can you just bring some hats?" And maybe that will be able to conceal my face a little bit more if we're going out. So she packed some hats for me, we went up to our family reunion.

And this place that we stayed is this little condo in a ski town, and we stayed with a few of my sisters and their families in the same unit. So there were multi-levels. And one morning, I was cleaning up breakfast, and I was washing the dishes, putting things away, I looked down as I was at the ceiling, I looked down and I saw at the top edge of the cabinet, a little label – like the labels that you get, you print off of a little label maker – and it was just on the very top edge of the cabinet door, and it said, "Fire extinguisher below." I remember thinking that was really interesting. And so I curiously opened up the cabinet door and looked inside the cabinet, and there was the fire extinguisher just kind of sitting in the dusty corner.

So I just thought that was interesting and closed it up and finished up my morning cleaning up. Then shortly after I was downstairs, getting ready for the day. Some families were out and about already enjoying their day and my sister was in her room. And I heard the fire alarm going off, and I couldn't smell smoke yet. And so I ran upstairs, ran to the upper floor, the main floor, couldn't smell anything, couldn't see anything.

And as I was running around and trying to figure out why the smoke alarm was going off, I finally went back down into the basement and opened up my sister's room. And as I opened up the door, I saw the closet kind of open and smoke coming out of the closet. Me and my brother in law opened up the closet and saw a fire in the closet.

Because it's in a ski town, they had these interesting amenities where in the basement bedrooms, there was a closet that had a small stove and sink inside. We opened it up and there the fire was going and it was it was getting kind of big. I knew right away, I told my brother in law, I said, "I know right where the fire extinguisher is." Ran upstairs, got under the cabinet and ran downstairs and my brother in law was able to extinguish the fire really quickly.

It happened so fast that I think that we were all just grateful that I knew where it was, but there was a moment after when we were all kind of waiting on the street and talking about it, where I just I knew that it wasn't an accident that I had seen that little labeled that that morning.

I remember feeling at that time, a distinct impression that Heavenly Father and Jesus loved me, and that it didn't matter what I looked like, that they could still use me to be a tool to help others and love others and save others even.

Even if it's not about my physical appearance, there have been times in my life where I've felt inadequate or unprepared or not enough. Sometimes throughout the day, I just say, "Am I doing okay? Do you love me?" And I know that I feel His love when I'm trying. And I don't have to be perfect. I can do His work, because He will help me and He will guide me.

KaRyn Lay 19:20

That was Cassidy. Her conclusion that God can use us at all times and in all states of being is an important one as we try to understand what true beauty is.

I think that sometimes it's really easy to inadvertently confuse the word beautiful with the word ornamental. And here's what I mean by that. A few years ago, I learned of a concept called self-objectification which is this idea that when we're considering our own physical appearance, we're often thinking about it with regard to how other people are perceiving us. And just like an object, we might start to see our bodies only as useful as long as they're perceived as useful by someone else.

This kind of self objectification can stop us in our tracks. It keeps us from showing up to the family reunion with our broken nose or getting into the swimming pool with our kids or being anywhere else that God might need us to be. And isn't that exactly what the adversary wants from us? He wants us to stop working towards eternity, to stop showing up and to become objects moved only by fear and shame instead of beings filled with the agency to move forward towards salvation.

If he can successfully convince us that these bodies that we were so excited to get, are only valuable or worthwhile if they look or work a certain way, then his work here is done. And here's the truth about beauty that I am going to take from Cassidy's story. These bodies that we live in, and we serve in and we love in – their beautiful right now, as is. Imperfect, weak, whatever. Because beautiful is not the same as ornamental. True beauty is inherent in the gift to act with agency so that we can bless each other and serve one another. And true beauty became a part of us the minute that we chose to follow Christ in the life before this one, to take up this body, and to get to work as part of the plan of salvation.

We've got a few more truths about beauty to discover, and our final story today comes from Melissa who decided to create beauty for others, when she had trouble finding it herself. Here's Melissa.

Melissa 21:30

I don't ever remember a time when I didn't love art. When I was little I would always be drawing, I would always be painting and I had the biggest imagination. And thankfully, I had parents who saw value in my hobbies and they cultivated my gifts. And they helped me grow them. They were always buying me art supplies, or children's books.

I grew up in a rural town called Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, Canada. My father's from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and my mom grew up mostly in Connecticut. My dad is from a tribe in central Kasai in Congo, and obviously, that that did affect me growing up because I was one of the only Black people in my school, in elementary school in junior high, and in high school. So I knew that – the obviously the older I got – I knew that I stood out. And I knew that I had to do more to fit in.

One moment I do remember is when I was in second grade, and I realized that I was Black. My brother and I had gotten into a fight. It was like a little dumb fight. I am a lighter complexion, and my mom is white and my father is Black. So in my head, I am white and I am Black. And then my brother said, "Melissa, you're Black." And I remember looking at him just so confused. I looked at my skin I said, "No, I am brown mixed with yellow." Like I remember saying that, because I was looking at my skin literally, like my skin isn't Black. And then I kind of realized at that moment, the way the world saw me was as a Black girl. And I think that was a defining moment. Because then I just remembered being so shocked that that's how people saw me.

And I knew that there was negative connotations with the word Black. And I remember one of my friends growing up in Church, she would never want to be around my dad. And as a child, I knew it was because he had dark skin. And she thought he was scary because of his dark skin. And me being nine or eight as a children, we have no filter. So I asked her. I said, "Hey, are you afraid of my dad because he's Black?" And I remember her just nodding. And she said, "Yes." And that was the end of the conversation.

When I was drawing as a child, I would often draw my family or me. It wasn't till maybe 12 and above, is when I started to notice that illustrations did not look like me, that I saw in school and at church. It affected me because I didn't really paint Black people, I didn't really paint people who look like me. So I would draw nature, paint nature and sometimes when I would attempt to draw people – which I didn't draw a lot of – they were white, because I noticed Blackness was not associated with pretty. It was more subconscious at that time period.

Most of my awareness came at the end of high school, beginning of BYU. And then I think this world that I had been brushing aside or ignoring really, kind of blew up in my face in a way. I became more aware of racism. I think I felt a little betrayed in a way when I came because I was never taught about a lot of the racism that happened in the Church. And I was like, why was I purposely not taught about these things? Why are we sweeping the hard stuff under the rug instead of confronting it and talking about it?

And once I learned more about history, whether it be church history, or African and European history, and colonization, colorism and internalized racism, that's when I was able to be more aware of myself and more aware of these harmful thoughts that I had about myself that pertained to the color of my skin, or to my ethnicity. And I realized that was damaging, because if I didn't see myself as divine or worthy, the way I was made, then how can I see other people that way as well?

So when I finally got into the BYU illustration program, I was ecstatic because I had applied the first time and I hadn't gotten in, and I had worked my butt off and finally got in the second time. So with our art department, once you got into the BFA of illustration, you spent most of your time in the art lab working on your projects. And it's pretty, it's a pretty exclusive part, there's only around 28 to 30 people in it. And I happened to be the only person in that room who would paint people that were not white. And I, and I noticed it right away. And that was another fueling moment for me.

I was used to being uncomfortable or having uncomfortable moments, whether it came to my friends saying inappropriate Black jokes, or just so many different things that were said that maybe stemmed from ignorance, or maybe because they didn't know better, and I wasn't in a confident headspace where I would, I could correct them, because I was afraid of making them uncomfortable. And so I sacrificed my own comfort for theirs.

I was hesitant to talk to anybody who was white about ethnicity and race, and racism. Because I had a couple experiences when I kind of opened myself up and wanted to talk about these things, because I was ready, and I I understood that it was something that needed to be talked to, and like, "I can confide with some of my close friends, and I can talk to them about it, I'm going to try." And unfortunately, I had a couple of experiences where it was just completely shut down.

They told me I wasn't spiritually in tune, or that I was just being too sensitive, and that my experiences weren't real and that they weren't valid. And I was just heartbroken, because I'm like, these were people who I thought had my back and who I thought . . . knew me, and they completely invalidated my experiences when it came to like race and ethnicity.

When I first got into BYU, I met one of my closest friends. And I didn't know she was going to be one of my closest friends at the time. But we ended up sitting right next to each other. And it was probably like one of the best experiences I could have had at BYU. And I just remember, just feeling like I didn't have to prove that my experiences regarding racism were true and valid. Like I felt like she saw me and she saw the issues. And she educated herself and I just . . . that anxiety that would sometimes come with having to prove that my experiences were valid or having to talk to someone about race kind of depleted because she literally was the first person who listened to me, she was like the first authentic friend I think I had at BYU.

I was just kind of protective of myself, and I knew that I didn't . . . I just knew right away from her aura that I didn't have to be like that. She was just one of the best listeners I could have ever hoped for. And she still is. Anytime, anytime something inappropriate was said in that room, and if I didn't have the emotional stamina to talk about it or I felt anxiety, she would speak up for me and she would correct people if they said racist things or ignorant comments. And she would do it in like the most Christlike way too. And I felt because of that like I was in a safe space, and I felt like I could completely be myself.

You know, I'm in a, I'm in an illustration department where we're always creating images. And of course, most of . . . 99.9% of those images were European images, or people who did not look like me. I remember walking through the MOA, that's the Museum of Art at BYU, and seeing this huge painting and depiction of heaven. And it was all white people in this heaven. And I'm like, this doesn't make sense. If God is only viewed as European, and angels are only seen as white then . . . when you don't see images that look like you, ever, especially in school, or in church and every aspect of your life, you automatically think that you're not worthy, or you're not . . . just meant to be shown or seen, and that you're not enough.

It feels like you're not worthy of being in a divine space. And it feels like you're not seen. It's like, do they even know that they exist? Or that I have my own story? And that I matter? Like, does God not see me? If all we have are these one sided images, it just hurts, because it feels like you're not enough.

So I decided that – and I knew and I felt my heart that I needed to make paintings of people who did not see themselves as divine, or as beautiful or as worthy of being seen.

When I painted these images, I felt peaceful and I felt calm. Like, I felt like I was doing something, not for myself, but for others. And one of the first paintings I painted, was just simply named "Eve." And I purposely made this painting a dark skinned woman and I gave her an afro. I don't know if a lot of people are aware, but a lot of Black women struggle wearing their hair naturally. I have sisters who struggled wearing their hair naturally, so I remember I'm like I need to do this painting. I really felt like I needed to do it.

And after I had made this painting, I had three different women – probably like the week after – reached out to me, and they were a Black women, and they had dark skin. And they had messaged me, and they had pretty much said, "Thank you for creating this. I've never seen a piece of art that has made me feel so beautiful. And I've never seen a artwork that has showed my skin tone as being divine." And it just like touched me, like I felt like I knew that I was meant to help people feel loved and seen and worthy. And their reactions just confirmed that for me.

I think the more I painted people with skin tones similar to mine, I actually started to feel more confident and more beautiful because I felt like there was a truth in that. Being able to paint people outside of the norm, outside of our society's norm, being able to equally represent people of color has made me redefine in my mind what divinity is and how Christ sees me and all His children.

It's shifted my perception of what God is and who Christ is, because I know God loves everyone the way that they are. I learned that you know, dark skin is divine, and is purposeful, and is beautiful.

I think God sees me as divine, and as enough. And I feel like when I'm in the right mindset and I value myself I can truly value and love others and I can use my gift or talent – which I'm still learning and developing – to be used for good. I can use this talent God gave me to help redefine what divinity and redefine what beauty is.

KaRyn Lay 34:49

That was artist Melissa Tshikamba. I first met Melissa because of work. Deseret Book had just added one of her gorgeous paintings to our flagship store in downtown Salt Lake and I was so excited to have something so moving alongside all those other celebrated makers of sacred images. When I learned more about Melissa's journey as an artist in the sacred space, I was even more inspired by her.

I feel really humbled and grateful to her for sharing her gifts with all of us. And I think it's so amazing that she was able to recognize that the ignorance and the silencing that she has encountered aren't fair, and still she chooses to be part of the body of Christ. I also really love that she followed that Spirit that led her to heal and be healed as she puts our brothers and sisters of color back in the pictures of a heaven that, frankly, I want to be a part of.

From Melissa story, I think we all learn the truth that beauty is not actually in the eye of the beholder. It's really in the eye of the Creator. And that as disciples of Christ and Latter-day Saints, it's our privilege to seek out beauty from all corners of the earth, and in every person we meet as evidence of God's goodness.

And if we can, as Melissa does with her talent, help to make space for a diverse representation of that beauty, so that everyone can see themselves in the picture. I really believe that that will be the means of healing for ourselves, and others.

You know, as we've listened to these stories today, this line from the hymn, "Oh God, the Eternal Father" has been just popping up in my mind. "With no apparent beauty that man should him desire, he was the promised Savior to purify with fire." It's a reference to Isaiah chapter 53, verse 2, where he's foretelling the life and the work of Jesus Christ.

I keep thinking about that phrase, "Apparent beauty," and what it means for those of us who are watching anxiously for the Savior today. When Christ came to the earth, the first time, those who were expecting a Savior who conformed to the standards of the day were deeply, deeply disappointed. He was neither obvious, nor clearly recognizable, as beautiful to the people who didn't look close enough. But that didn't stop His work. It didn't matter if people could see who He was and the beauty He possessed. He had a job to do. And His true beauty would soon be apparent across ages, and universes, and the quiet transformation of individuals.

For those of us who seek to emulate the Savior, that's some really, really good news, because it means that like Him, we can let go of expectations of apparent beauty in our own lives right now. We can see ourselves as valuable and capable disciples ready to fulfill our mission without distraction.

It means that we can raise our children to see their own possibility and purpose and we can put out fires and stoke new ones in hearts that have grown cold from feeling unseen, and unrepresented. So what's the big thing that I've learned from these stories today about beauty? It's this: I've got work to do. We've got work to do, and there is no time to let the pressures of Satan's half truths, his smoke and mirrors about beauty and worth stand in the way of accomplishing that mission. And for those of us watching for our beautiful Savior's return with a faithful spirit, it's an invitation to practice now to understand and see true beauty where it exists in others and ourselves. So that when He comes again – this time in full glory – we will recognize Him and His beauty without delay.

That's it for this episode of "This Is the Gospel" thank you to our storytellers, Wendy Cassidy and Melissa for sharing their stories and their true beauty. We'll have so much good stuff in the show notes this week, you guys, Melissa's paintings, Wendy's books, pictures and more info about each of these storytellers at LDS living.com/Thisisthegospel.

You can also find more great stuff by following us on Instagram or Facebook at @Thisisthegospel_podcast. A huge thank you to everyone who takes the time to write a review of this podcast not only do they offer us great feedback about what themes and types of stories have blessed you most, but they also really buoy us up when we work under these unusual circumstances. We love to hear how this podcast and specific stories that have stuck with you. You can leave a review of the podcast on Apple stitcher or whatever platform you listen on.

All of the stories in this episode are true and accurate, as affirmed by our storytellers, and we find a lot of our stories like Cassidy's through our pitchline. If you have a story to share about a time in your life when you learn something new by practicing the gospel of Jesus Christ, we want to hear from you. The best pitches will be short and sweet and they'll have a clear sense of the focus of your story. You'll have three minutes to pitch your story when you call 515-519-6179.

This episode was produced by me, KaRyn Lay with additional story production and editing by Erika Free and Davey Johnson. It was scored, mixed and mastered by Mix at Six studios and our executive producer is Erin Hallstrom. You can find past episodes of this podcast and all the other LDS Living podcasts at LDS living.com slash podcasts.

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