Sunday, February 9, 2014

the beauty series- part 1

SO. Let's get this party started. I've been waiting for this day. :)
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I think there is an attitude among Christians sometimes that believes "good Christian women" don't care about outward beauty. As if it's not possible to love Jesus with your entire heart AND also enjoy what you wear. So then, the most spiritual among us, if they are truly a humble and Godly woman, should wear something completely unfashionable- and bypass the makeup altogether!- because we should be spending time sitting by the window, reading our Bible and praying for hours, while the wind blows our freshly-washed curtains, and the birds chirp in the sunshine outside. And if you were born and raised in Pennsylvania, then you now have the image of an Amish woman in your head. Am I right? Don't leave me alone here, guys! [Holy cow, I made joke. I'm not hating on the Amish.]

Except. We were wired to notice beauty. To appreciate beauty. And what if we were even created to BE beautiful, thus explaining why we, as women, want so badly to feel beautiful!!!! That's not a stretch. To believe this, all you need is a 3-yr old little girl. [Although, let's be real- it starts long before age 3.] If you put her in a skirt, you'll see her twirl. If you put her next to her mother's makeup, you will see her put it on- not because she is already fooled into thinking she NEEDS it, but because she sees, with honest eyes, the beauty her mother has, and she already wants in. I think my favorite things about little girls is how they already know they are beautiful. For when you tell a little girl that she is beautiful, she won't give you a lengthy list of bodily shortcomings. She doesn't even say "thank you," for the approval of her mother, expecting good manners. SHE SIMPLY SAYS, "I KNOW."

And somewhere along the way, we lose that. But that is for another day.

If you struggle with accepting your physical body at all, go read John Eldredge's book, "Captivating." Heck, if you are a woman or find yourself raising a woman, or find yourself under the same roof AS a woman, read it. One of the points he makes is that men and women are created to represent different parts of who God is, so that we can better understand Him. And men get to represent things like God's strength and power; women represent God's desire for relationships, His sensitive heart, and His beauty.

"Oh, but women aren't beautiful." Says no man ever. Shoot, take a walk around an art gallery and look at the differences in the ways men and women are depicted. One gender shows power and action; the other shows beauty. Or sit in on a marketing class and learn why businesses use women's beauty to sell things. Look at the advertisements! A woman doesn't usually look directly into the camera lens, especially if the product is geared toward men. She is to look away, so that the viewer of the ad can feel comfortable looking at her. Because she is desirable. FACT: WOMEN ARE BEAUTIFUL.

Fact: Women have the privilege of representing the beauty of God. And because we are created to do that, we have an innate desire to be beautiful, to feel beautiful. And I am foolish bold enough to suggest that you each agree.... some of you because you believe you are beautiful, some of you believe that because you know that desire hurts your hearts since you don't believe you actually are beautiful, and some of you prove that truth in your very denial of it. Because you feel so far lost from the identity of "beautiful" that you rebel, insisting that you don't need to feel beautiful, nor are you upset that you don't feel beautiful! The hurt looks an awful lot like anger, for you.

So if your heart can't hear that, let's go about this another way. God doesn't make things that aren't beautiful.

Yes, I've seen these two.


 No, I don't know what to tell you....


........


I've also seen these:
 



And what impresses this [God's creation being beautiful] upon my heart so much is the fact that God places such incredible beauty where there is no actual need for it. Flowers don't need to be beautiful to be alive. We don't need to enjoy tasting food to be sustained. Sunsets don't need to be vibrant as the earth continues its orbit. God designed all of that beauty because it brings Him pleasure, it brings us pleasure, and because it reflects Him.

Now hear this, sweet friend: you are also God's creation.
He formed you exactly the way He meant for you to be. (Psalm 139)
You are not a mistake.
And you are beautiful, because God made you to be.
And when you stand in front of your mirror, pointing out to yourself (or worse, to your friend or spouse. Or even worse yet, to your child.) the hips that are too big, the complexion that is too speckled, the skin too saggy, the height too short, the toes too stubby, the _____ too _____ you sound as ridiculous as you would if you were telling God that the sunset needed more orange in it tonight.

Yet we would never dream of doing that, would we? We would never presume to correct God on what He has made. We would never criticize that which we can't even pretend to re-create half as well, even on an artist's best day. AND YET that's what we do in front of our mirror each morning. Because when you point out your "shortcomings" what your heart really means is "I could have made me better." And oh, the pride that pours from your soul at the utterance of that thought.

It pains a mother's heart to hear her child speak poorly about themselves. What must it do to God's heart when we berate ourselves? When we criticize and call "ugly" that which He has pronounced perfect?

Girls. We don't get to do that any more. We don't get to stand in front of the mirror believing any part of our physical body to be flawed again. No more. It ends here. Today. Because God made you, He doesn't make mistakes, and we are not in the position to tell the Creator of the Universe that we could have done it better.

Further more, let's call it what it is: A BIG, FAT LIE. Because the One who made you- every hair, nail, freckle, and tooth of you- would not then look at you and say "Oops." He's a thorough God. He doesn't leave things unfished, or get distracted, or become bored and just give up. He creates masterpieces, of which you are one. And YOU ARE PERFECT. You are precisely what He meant to make. So when you hear the words trying to convince you otherwise, you know they certainly aren't coming from Him. And because you are His child, His creation, they have no right to be spoken about you.

So that's when you pray. And you let God smash that thought into smithereens. And there at His feet those ugly, horrible, broken thoughts will stay.

As for you- you will speak them no more. Not over others. Not over yourself.

Are we clear?

Do you promise?

Pinky-promise, though?
 
Let me hear you.

6 comments:

  1. I watched my granddaughter twirl around in her pink princess dress last night and dance "like big people" with her Papa and thought to myself "I hope she always feels this way about herself!" My prayer for her is that she will be able to shut out the world's definition of beauty and be able to celebrate herself. You're right-somewhere along the way we lose our sense of beauty.

    This was a lesson every year in my leadership classes on exactly what you shared - how easy it is to point out flaws and how hard it is to see the beauty. Sigh.Guilty as charged. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. And yes. I pinky-promise to do better. :)

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    1. Deb, I love watching little girls twirl! I remember doing it myself. Those were always my favorite dresses, the ones that swung wide. :) I hope your granddaughters ARE always able to shut out the world's definition of beauty. She's off to a good start, with the family she's been blessed to have. I also love that you taught your students this lesson! What a privilege it is for your students to call you "teacher." You're as good as they come.

      And thanks for the pinky-promise. :) I love you.

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  2. I had to read your blog to my husband. You said it perfectly. One of the reasons I homeschool is to make sure my kids have the correct outlook vs. the peer outlook. This is a biggie for my daughter, who has amazing self-confidence at age 3 that I pray stays with her for life.

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    1. Elyse, your comment brought a grin to my face. So cool that you read it to your husband, too! I don't blame you for wanting this for your children. As much as I want it for my boys, I imagine it would be SO much harder to raise a girl with a healthy sense of self. I hope your sweet babe keeps her self-confidence her entire life, too. :)

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  3. I love this!
    Penelope will watch me get ready sometimes and I will curl her hair or "put blush on" her cheeks and when I'm done I always go "What do you think?" and every time she goes "I look gorgeous!" (Sometimes without even checking in the mirror.)
    I think all could use the courage of a three year old girl, from time to time. We should all be able to say "I look gorgeous," without checking in the mirror, first.

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    1. "i look gorgeous!" hahaha!!! that's awesome, Ashley! I think you're right- we all need a good dose of that. :) xoxo

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