During the last week, I blogged about several maternity outfits during New York’s Fashion Week. It was fun to style different pieces together and think of new looks! But today, I am reminded of the Bible’s definition of beauty. And it is significantly different than the definitions and standards set forth by the world:
Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come…Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. (Proverbs 31:25,30)
Ladies, can we be honest? Do you find it cliché to talk about “true beauty” and how “beauty comes from within” in Christian circles? Honestly, I do. Maybe it’s because I’ve heard it all my life, yet I don’t always believe it in my heart. Often, I don’t feel that inner beauty is really ENOUGH to get by in this world. If you were to be honest with yourself, do you feel that beauty from within is enough for you?
“Happy girls are the prettiest.” ~Audrey Hepburn
I don’t want to be trite in writing this, but I also think it’s a subject that we (I) need to be reminded of…regularly. We really need to embrace beauty as God sees it. Maybe you feel differently than I do on this subject, but I personally feel that beauty and happiness are intrinsically joined. The question then becomes: Who or what makes me feel beautiful?
Let me start with myself. I’m a pretty girl. I’ve always been told that. And I guess I’ve always believed it to some degree and also taken it for granted. The idea of having something permanently alter my appearance terrifies me. I have naturally blond hair, blue eyes, and a great smile. (Yes, I’m being very vain… but bear with me.) I’ve always been a “good” girl too. (And I think) I have decent taste in personal style. All in all, most wouldn’t expect me to have a single insecurity.
News flash: I have a lot.
For years growing up, I hated my body. Strong words? Yes. Adequate for how I felt at the time? Unfortunately so… Throughout my teens, I yo-yo dieted, wrestled with eating disorders, and cursed and adored food all at the same time. It was truly a dark time in my soul.
So why am I sharing this?
I share this because I have learned from personal experience that it is downright dangerous and destructive to not understand what real beauty is and where it comes from!
I share this because the lies the enemy tells us about our bodies, about our looks, about things we can’t control are really, really believable!
And I share this because if we don’t believe what God says about us, we will believe what the world says about us, and the world keeps changing its mind!
The world always has an opinion of what to do, say, wear, enhance, hide, put on, tuck in, cut away, take off…and that opinion is always changing. Someone else is constantly deciding for us what is “in” and what is “out.” Can we just talk about eyebrow shapes for a minute? One decade they are thin and sparse but the next decade they are bushy and overgrown. What am I to do if I can’t grow mine into whatever the current standard is? Am I ugly? Incapable of beauty? I could list countless other standards out of our control: height, eye color, hair texture, body shape, skin color, bra size, skin conditions, etc. Guess what? There isn’t one single woman in the world that meets every one of these standards.
In my own life, these unrealistic expectations of beauty combined with my own insecurities and destructive habits became the perfect soil for the enemy to plant seeds of self-loathing, inadequacy, and worthlessness. I truly could not fathom the thought that I was beautiful because I didn’t meet the “right” standards. Having made it out of that dark season, I see now that my mind was determined to form an opinion of myself; and I only had two options: believe what the enemy and the world said about me or believe what God and His Word said about me.
Unfortunately, at the time, I clung to the former’s opinions. I tried to live up to the world’s standard of beauty and perfection. I deprived my body of proper nutrition to make myself skinny and “beautiful.” All too quickly, I realized that I could control my weight but not my happiness; so, in order to cover up the miserable and hateful feelings I felt, I turned back to food to bring me comfort and joy – binging on incomprehensible numbers of calories in a sitting. All the while, I was miserable and felt like I was dying inside. The pursuit of beauty didn’t make me happy – no, it drained the very life out of my soul!
Oh beautiful girl, it is a lie – big fat lie that you can create your own happiness! It is the same lie that the serpent whispered to Eve in the garden (Genesis 3:1-6). He tempted her, not with the idea of trying a new variety of fruit, but with the idea that God was holding out on her – that true pleasure and greatness could only be achieved by stepping outside of God’s direction and boundaries.
God wants us to be joyful and content, but He wants us to find that source of happiness in more than the shallow things of this world. As Proverbs 31:30 so clearly states: beauty is passing. Trends are changing. Styles are in and then out. Bathing suits may never fit ideally. Wrinkles will form. These things are a shaky foundation on which to build our lives and happiness. The world will never think that we are enough. We will never be perfectly beautiful in its eyes. Yes, we might have passing moments of recognition for one thing or another. Perhaps today we will be commended for being pretty or having great style, but come tomorrow, the focus will have shifted to another who is more “qualified” than we could ever hope to be. These standards for beauty are ridiculous at best!
But God’s standard of beauty has never changed!
Do not let your adornment be merely outward – arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel – rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. (1 Peter 3:3-4)
Okay, okay, I know. If you’ve grown up in the church as a young woman, you’ve heard this 107x. But I have to say it anyways: God looks not at our outward appearances, He looks at our hearts. It’s the condition of our heart and spirit that defines us as beautiful in His eyes. (And what can I say? He finds us drop-dead gorgeous!) Here’s a new thought for you though. If God sees our value from the inside out, isn’t that how we should see ourselves?
Oh ladies, isn’t it so much easier to extend grace and love to others? Isn’t loving yourself hard? I can find a million things wrong with me. I can tell God a hundred reasons why I shouldn’t view myself as beautiful in His eyes. But at the end of the day, His opinion of me is the one that counts and the one that will stand. He wants me to lock into His gaze and listen to what He has to say about me. He finds me beautiful. When I can grasp this, and drink in His beauty and see it reflecting out of me – that is when I find joy inexpressible!
O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely. (Song of Solomon 2:14)
God delights in us. He delights in the secret time we spend with Him. I love this verse from Song of Solomon for it says that God longs to spend time with us in the secret place, face to face. I find my true value in this place. It is where I hear Him speak His heart over me, and I know that I am beautiful and I am loved.
Lovelies, beauty is not found or obtained by body shape, clothing style, or makeup artistry. Beauty is found in knowing Jesus Christ as Savior and finding our identity in Him and His beauty. The treasure of finding it in Him is that it cannot be stolen away or maimed. My outward appearance could be drastically altered in a moment, but the beauty I have obtained through Christ can never be taken away. It is the beauty of my spirit and it is a beauty that He is constantly increasing and perfecting as I become more Christ-like. When I see my true beauty and value through His eyes, I find peace and joy in this knowledge.
…then I became in His eyes as one who found peace. (Song of Solomon 8:10b)
I am determined by the Holy Spirit inside of me to stop chasing after the standards of beauty in this world and instead align my life – my heart and my soul – with His standards for me. Instead of pursing the latest fashion trend, I want to be pursuing a gentle and quiet spirit. With my heart set on this goal, I can find happiness, joy, contentment, and peace in Him and in His opinions! He alone is the source of these things.
Your eyes will see the King in His beauty… (Isaiah 33:17a)
Sweet sisters, when the enemy comes to you to whisper that you aren’t enough, that there is more out there for you, that your value can only be found in these superficial standards and pursuits – RUN. Run to the One who speaks truth to your soul. Run to the One who shed His own blood to purchase your freedom from these things. Run to the one who considers you to be infinitely precious and beautiful. Because when your heart is captured by Him and His beauty, you will begin to see just a small glimpse of the value He has placed on you and the depth of His love for you. You, dear one, are adored by your Father. ♥
Grace and peace!
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