The world seems to have a fixation on beautiful people, and some of us who do not fit well into the category can be made to feel very unattractive. Physical beauty is assuredly relative, but there seems to be a standard which is promoted on television, in movies and in all other visual media. The endless supply of beauty aids we are advised to purchase promise if we will use their particular cream or spray we will be made beautiful. Our experiences with such products are they do not work as advertised.
In the practice of medicine for many years I have seen and treated hundreds of people who through no fault of their own have been physically handicapped and scarred. The emotional consequences of such handicaps can be far-reaching ranging from thoughts or actions of self-destruction, to withdrawal from social contact with anyone.
When we first met Judy Crumpler we quickly discovered she was one of those who had withdrawn from most social contacts, except those necessary for her existence. It was not in a medical setting we met her but rather in church where my wife, Cathy spotted her sitting alone with no one sitting within several feet of her. The most obvious reasons for the space were Judy was extremely unattractive which made her difficult to look upon, and she had a foul body odor. No one except Cathy bothered to investigate the reasons for her significant problems, and neither of them was Judy’s fault. She was born with a rare skin condition called elephantiasis which caused enlarged and thickened skin folds over her body most noticeable in the exposed areas of her face, neck, arms and hands. These folds of skin prevented her from adequate bathing, and the excessive perspiration from the abnormal skin contributed to her body odor. Judy had other congenital abnormalities of which I was not fully aware, and even though she was in her late thirties in age her mental capacity was that of an eight to ten year old. She was living alone in an independent living center, and a staff member was bringing her to church. She loved coming to church because her mother had taken her to church every Sunday when she was living at home.
Cathy took a seat next to Judy while the rest of us followed, and we all introduced ourselves to her. This was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, primarily between Cathy and Judy, but definitely involving the rest of our family. Our relationship with Judy forever changed our attitudes toward outward and inner beauty.
At first Judy was a little suspicious of us because in the past others had reached out in friendship to her only to have the relationships fade because of Judy’s multiple physical problems. Judy bonded first with Cathy, whom she called “Caffy,” and as a family we determined we were going to include Judy in our friendship circle. She had our telephone number by her night-stand, and it was not unusual for her to call several times a day to ask Cathy an important question. When I answered, she identified me as “Shahn.” By knowing every member of our family was available to her when she had a problem gave her more confidence in our love and concern for her.
Within a short time of our new friendship and while attending an evangelistic meeting at our church Judy turned to Cathy and said, “Caffy, I want to have what the man is talking about.” Cathy asked her to explain what she meant, and Judy responded, “I want to go to heaven when I die.” Cathy took Judy into an adjoining room where along with another Godly woman, they explained God’s plan of salvation to Judy in terms she could understand and receive. There was great rejoicing in the room and in heaven as Judy was born into the Kingdom.
For the next several years Judy was included in many of our family gatherings especially on holidays and for Judy’s birthday. Cathy was able to help Judy with some of her personal issues, including better skin cleansing and the use of more effective anti-perspirants. She was also able to assist Judy in making arrangements for consultation at the University Medical Center in Little Rock, which led to several corrective surgical procedures for her skin condition. With these improvements in her appearance and better control of her body odor Judy gained increasingly more self-confidence.
One amusing aspect of her new health awareness involved her love for coffee. She was advised by one of her doctors to drink only decaffeinated coffee and was made to understand the concept by telling her to only drink “coffee from a green can and not coffee from a red can.” One evening shortly thereafter I received a call from Judy and she asked, “Shahn, I can’t remember. Am I supposed to drink red coffee or green coffee?” I reminded her to stay away from red coffee since it was not good for her!
Judy lived only for a few more years, and it was after we had moved from our hometown to another city we received word Judy had departed this life. We were saddened to hear this news, but rejoiced in our confidence Judy was in heaven with her Savior. One day very soon Judy will receive a new body that will be perfect with no blemishes, and the same promise is for everyone who is a member of God’s family. We all have imperfections, and the world will try to convince us we are displeasing to others and should live separated lives. Our Creator and Savior does not look on the skin or on the outer person, but on the inner person where His image is beautiful and growing stronger in us every day. Our sweet and beautiful friend, Judy Crumpler reminded us of this, and for her life and friendship we are eternally grateful.