Monday, December 23, 2013

what we do to be beautiful

The post I wrote last week about raising my daughter with an authentic and godly definition of beauty was much more popular than I had anticipated.

I sat and looked at how many people had viewed it, and shared it, and it struck me that we can't hear the message often enough:

We don't have to do anything to be perfectly beautiful.

I grew up feeling terribly unbeautiful. I was awkward and unpopular in school. I had very few friends, exactly zero boyfriends, and a desperately low self-image.

I did all kinds of things to try to be beautiful enough to be noticed, to be accepted, to fit in. None of them worked.

In college I became a Christian. My understanding of God and faith was the beginning of a strange new path of redefinition, loosening my grip on my insecurities and fears, and being freed from the painful hold they had on my soul.

I began to really believe that my value was not derived from my appearance or my performance at about the same time I hit the heights of youth and possibility by our culture's standards.

If a flawless, youthful face and body and promising career possibilities are our goal, then it's all downhill after you turn 25. And at around 35, you might lose your grip on life itself because beauty is fleeting and youth escapes our lives like water through a sieve one birthday at a time.

As you age, you will either need to redefine beauty, or you will have to redefine yourself.

What if beauty isn't Barbie hair and giant wide-set eyes, a tiny waist, perfect breasts, and long legs that go on for days? What if it doesn't matter how stylish you are, how successful you are, how many people follow you on twitter, or what other people think of you?

We need to look in the mirror and ask ourselves the hard question: What will God say about us when we stand before Him?

Will He praise our choice in wrinkle creams? Will God congratulate us on pinning the perfect butt workout? When we look back at our lives what will we be most proud about and most grateful for?

In our quest for beauty we need answers to a few more important questions: What makes God beautiful? and How does He define beauty on earth?

"How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, 'Your God reigns!'"
- Isaiah 52:7

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise."
-Proverbs 31:30-31

It isn't how impressive our achievements are to others or how we look that makes us beautiful in God's eyes. We are made beautiful by His love that compels us to proclaim His gospel to everyone we know.

I dare you to throw away the list of which of your body parts are the best, and which ones you plan to change. I challenge you to love the nose that would never make it on a magazine cover, the legs that lack tone and definition, the feet that have needed a pedicure for far too long, and the stomach that never quite bounced back after the baby was born.

Let yourself off the hook.

Tell your eyes and lips and neck that wrinkles are coming in greater number as the years pass, and that they are a blessed part of your beautiful story of faithful days becoming years lived loving God and others more than yourself, your appearance, and your youth.

You are beautiful because you are loved. God chose you for His own, and He doesn't care how long your eyelashes are or if there are age spots on your hands. The Maker of all things declares your beauty from heavenly places, and the more time you spend with Him the more gorgeous you will know you really are.

Go ahead, be dazzlingly beautiful, adorned with love for the marginalized, a generous heart for your family, a life laid down for the sake of God's Kingdom. Put on love for God, for others, and for yourself no matter how flawed you are today. Wear love well and see how beautiful if makes you.
"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God."
-Collossians 3:1-3

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