Finding Beauty Within: Shining from the Inside Out
A few months ago, I was in a Macy’s dressing room, trying on the only one-piece swimsuit I could find that didn’t have cutouts or a plunging neckline. I was leaving on a mission trip to Baltimore, Maryland in a week. One of the clothing requirements for the women was a “modest one-piece swimsuit”. Just in case the vacation bible schools we were leading required us to bring kiddos to a local pool. Frustrated by how long it had taken me to find just one swimsuit that met the dress code requirements, I pulled on a swimsuit that was not cute and not my size. Then, staring in the mirror, I seriously considered whether or not I would keep looking for a cuter suit. On my third store of the day, finding another modest suit that was more flattering and attractive didn’t seem likely. But I wasn’t sure I was willing to be seen in public looking so frumpy (after all, there would be men there!). As I stood in the dressing room weighing my options, I noticed that the song playing in the dressing room was “Good For You” by Selena Gomez. In case you’re unfamiliar, the lyrics sound like this:
Gonna wear that dress you like, skin-tight Do my hair up real, real nice And syncopate my skin to your heart beating
'Cause I just wanna look good for you, good for you, uh-huh I just wanna look good for you, good for you, uh-huh Let me show you how proud I am to be yours Leave this dress a mess on the floor And still look good for you, good for you, uh-huh”
You can’t make this stuff up. Those lyrics were filling my ears. While I struggled to find a swimsuit that was modest enough to wear on a church-organized mission trip!
As I walked to the customer service area, ill-fitting but modest swimsuit in hand, I thanked the Lord for His (not-so-subtle) wakeup call. Like a lot of women can be, I was so focused on my appearance. In preparing for my mission trip, I had been trying to imagine how I could look better. Rather than what God had in store for our group. Looking good for everyone (ahem, men) was my first priority. And honestly, doesn’t our society prompt us to prioritize our lives that way? Popular lyrics like the ones I heard in the dressing room can seriously impact the way we women view ourselves. And the way we relate to men. Without the Lord’s Truth, we believe that looking good is of the utmost importance. And that men will like us more if we look more attractive. Not only that, but we believe that men liking us is more important than anything else.
When we turn to Scripture, we see time and time again that God is far more interested in what is in our hearts. Rather than what is on the outside.
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. - 1 Peter 3:3-4
While there is nothing inherently wrong with any of these external adornments. Peter says our beauty should not be made up of entirely external things.
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised, - Proverbs 31:30
The beauty God desires from us is a heart that knows and loves Him. And by extension, a heart that loves other people. If we have to prioritize one type of beauty over the other, cultivating the beauty of our hearts should win every time.
And what should the cultivation of a beautiful heart look like for a godly woman? The Proverbs 31 woman, a common example for good reason, demonstrates the qualities of a woman serious about her faith:
She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks - Pro. 31:17
She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue - Pro. 31:26
She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy - Pro. 31:20
She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants - Pro. 31:15
These are the qualities that reflect inner beauty. They don’t come naturally to us. Each of us needs to ask the Lord for His help in developing these characteristics in ourselves.
If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer - Matthew 21:22
Our God is happy to develop us into the disciples He longs for!
No matter where we are at in our faith journey, it is so easy to fall into the discontentment. A trap the Enemy has sprung in society. One that male attention will satisfy the longing of our hearts. And that attaining noteworthy physical beauty is the way to gain it. However, the only One who can truly satisfy us asks only that we surrender our hearts to Him. He doesn’t give a second thought to our appearance, because He has already fearfully and wonderfully made us (Psalm 139:14). When He sees the good at work in our hearts, however, He will continue to delight in us:
The Lord detests those whose hearts are perverse, but he delights in those whose ways are blameless. - Proverbs 11:20
Lord, help me to resist the lies our society tells me. Help me to treat and view myself as a daughter of the King. Thank you for your Truth that I am made beautifully in Your image. I pray that you would turn my focus from male attention and my appearance to your goodness and blessings. Cultivate in me a heart that loves You above all else. Amen!
For more ideas on modesty check out:http://tirzahmag.com/guys-think-modesty/