I am not a beautiful woman. I do not have a slim figure, perfectly coiffed hair, or an unchipped manicure. I don’t dye my hair to hide the grey. The wrinkles around my eyes tattle on my age. I have heard my share of rude comments and unkind encouragement to seek out plastic surgery, join a weight loss club, or both.
Society defines beauty in a way that no woman can ever truly attain the expected standard of it. When we find women who appear to fit the definition, we study and examine and scrutinize them until we find a flaw and then we exploit it, point it out to the world, whisper snide comments to the other non-beautiful women near us. We must, by whatever means necessary, prevent others from attaining this mythical standard of beauty, because if they can attain it, and we can’t, we have failed and we therefore, must just be ugly.
We become slaves to scales and mirrors and diets and food journals and the newest weight loss pill/anti-wrinkle cream/shapewear. We feed ourselves heaping bowls full of shame and self-ridicule. We don’t just stand idly by while others shatter our self-confidence, we help them destroy it – stab it and watch it bleed out every time we look in the mirror and turn away disgusted at the person that looks back at us. When the world is never satisfied and has an ever-changing definition of beauty, why do we look to the world to define us? If we are honest with ourselves, it is madness.
Where do we look for a true definition of beauty?
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
I used to balk at this verse. Me? Quiet? Gentle? Ah, no. I was a very
stubborn headstrong brash *ahem* opinionated young woman. So I knew I couldn’t attain this standard. But the real issue is that I didn’t understand it. God didn’t want to change my essence, but just soften my edges. He formed me with this personality and it has served me well in many situations. I just had to learn to use it constructively instead of using it like a wrecking ball. I have discovered that maturity – especially spiritual maturity and not just the advancement of years – does lead to a gentler, quieter spirit.
… People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7
Think about the most beautiful woman you know. What makes her beautiful? I am willing to bet that the words you use to describe her have little if anything to do with her appearance. More likely you will speak of her kindness, the warmth of her hug, her positive disposition… do you catch my drift? It doesn’t make sense to define another’s beauty by what is in their heart, and your own beauty by your reflection. We need to assess ourselves as Christ would – by looking at our hearts.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14
Have you ever looked at a child with a physical abnormality and thought what a beautiful child? Of course, because we intrinsically understand that each of us is fearfully and wonderfully made. Life is miraculous and precious and valuable and lovely. Every life. Including yours.
For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:8
Now, don’t shoot the messenger, but no matter how much you exercise and eat a perfect diet and do all the life-prolonging activities that keep you healthy, you are still going to die. I am not saying that these things are not of vital importance because they certainly are! But godliness has eternal value whereas physical training serves us well only in the here and now. We must have balance and that is what the Apostle Paul is trying to tell us here. Don’t spend too much time on the temporary at the expense of the eternal.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
We are indwelt with the Holy Spirit and as such, we need to take care of this body that we have been entrusted with. Note that I said take care of it not obsess over it. We need to make wise decisions, but we should not make ourselves miserable with unattainable goals. We can honor God with our bodies without fitting into a pair of skinny jeans.
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30
Beauty is fleeting… momentary… fading. There is nothing you can do to ultimately preserve your youth. Invest your efforts where it will earn you lasting praise. Fear the Lord. Know that regardless of what the world says, your Father loves you and sees the beauty in your heart and that beauty is eternal.
So when we compare ourselves with the Word instead of the world, we can begin to understand real beauty. It isn’t purchased at a store, credited to good genetics, or found through a surgeon’s scalpel. It comes from within, from what God pours into us when we open our hearts to the work that only the Great Physician can perform. It is then that we can say that we are truly beautiful women.
Abide in His Grace,