Ladies, What is "Beautiful?" Hint: It's Not About You
We are naive and beauty obsessed people. Always have been, and probably always be.
In today's world, we are pestered with images of what beauty should look like and how we can achieve it. Open any magazine and you'll see at least one article/info graphic/ad telling you how you can draw attention to yourself by the clothes you wear, how you do your makeup or even the way you walk/talk. Turn on the TV and all you see is airbrushed perfection in designer clothes. Eavesdrop onto any girls' brunch and the conversation of beauty is bound to come up in some shape or form.
My point is, we love beauty, even more so if we are the object of desire.
Although the insecurities that come in our search for beauty impacts women of all ages, it particularly effects teens and teenage girls. The pressure to look grown up and fit in usually overwhelms any common senses or inner beauty.
I will be the first to admit that beauty has been a sore subject for me from a young age. There were nights I cried myself to sleep because I didn't think my acne was ever going to go away and I couldn't bear the stares or snide comments about skin care from other young (and older) women. There were days where I avoided mirrors because I couldn't bear the reflection I saw. There were times when I chose to skip out on doing a social activity or even being productive because I wanted to curl up in my bed and weep.
It was the same thoughts though that laced these moments - that feeling of not being good enough - not pretty, thin, athletic, or fashionable enough. Even right now, I still have moments of doubts and insecurities. I scoffed at the idea of inner beauty - I thought it's something pretty people told ugly people to make them feel better.
Over the years, I've tried to do multiple Bible studies based on Biblical beauty for young women, and I've checked out the books on Christian beauty targeted towards young women. But, I just couldn't ever get past a few pages - I wasn't comfortable with the compliments and lavish objectives. And it wasn't until recently, as I grew closer to the Lord that I figured out why. Yes, part of it may have been that it was because of my insecurities, but for the large part, because it wasn't Godly.
God is beauty. And He created humans in His image, which means every single one of is beautiful as well. But, our constant desire to be more beautiful and draw attention to ourselves is counterproductive to the fact that as Christians, non believers must see Christ in us - not our beauty, fashion, or the shape of our bodies.
I adore this definition of beauty offered on dictionary.com -
beauty:: the combination of all the qualities of a person or thing that delight the senses and please the mind.
This definition speaks to more than just physical beauty, because it pleases the mind. God's words, His promises and stories please my mind. That is where I see beauty. So when I see a person that is passionate about the Lord - the combination of their words, actions, and above all the love shining out of their eyes, is BEAUTY. Every time I see my grandmother (right), I see this beauty in her and it's humbling and awe-inspiring.
I'm not sure if this makes sense to you. I'm still working through it, but the idea both blows my mind and soothes my teenage insecurities. Yes, I still want to hear that I am beautiful, but I don't want it to be a compliment to my make-up or styling skills. I want it to be a testament of the Lord shining through me. So essentially, it wouldn't be my beauty, but the Lord's beauty complimented as it lives in me. As the verse below says, holiness IS beauty.
Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name; Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. -Psalm 29:2
In Ezekiel 16:14-17, the Lord speaks to Jerusalem -
"Your fame went out among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through My splendor which I had bestowed on you,” says the Lord God. But you trusted in your own beauty, played the harlot because of your fame, and poured out your harlotry on everyone passing by who would have it..."
Ouch. Isn't this what
we I do? I am made perfect through HIM, but I try to make up own beauty through the way I do my hair, face, the clothes I wear and the way I behave. I seek to attract the attention of "everyone passing by..."
No, this doesn't mean I'm going to stop caring about my physical appearance. I am still going to exercise, eat healthy and wear clothes that both complement my physical qualities, yet are still modest and not flashy or lust-seeking. But now, I won't let my days or nights be ruined because I'm unhappy with my physical appearance. It's secondary to what is inside me, and my physical appearance should complement, not overwhelm or hide that.
"Do not let your adorning be external - the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry or the clothing you wear - but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious." -1 Peter 3:3-4
And you want to hear a secret? This type of beauty doesn't age, weep, require a significant investment of funds or painful surgery. It's ageless, filled with power from above and all-consuming. It spills into the lives of people you meet , the things you do and how you live. That is the beauty I strive to achieve. This is my beautiful.
How do you define beauty in your life?
Before I sign off, I recommend checking out an article in the latest issue of Set Apart Girl. An anonymous warrior-poet writes about Godly beauty in women from a man's perspective. His words mimic my thoughts as of late and actually prompted me to write this post. I adore his conclusion:
"...the most captivating and beautiful of all women - not because she turns heads or makes men stop in their tracks, but because she is so caught up in Jesus that His beauty has become hers."