I am currently studying the book of Esther, with a group of women I have come to treasure, and this week’s pull-out for me is something about beauty. Like almost every other female on this planet, I too have found myself seemingly stuck in a battle over outward appearance. And you can say some circumstances that have danced through my life in the last few years have made winning that battle more difficult. Discouraging, but far from impossible. Hallelujah for the grace of God. After wrestling with God continually about not wanting physical appearance to become an idol in my life — not that I’ve reached the end or will never deal with comparison again (I’m human) — I feel as though I have finally reached a true resolution. A resolve that carries me through almost every day. The place God would have me stay and confidently stand.
“Let beautiful young virgins be sought out for the king… Let them be placed under the care of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women; and let beauty treatments be given to them.” Esther 2:2-3
This is a study compiled and given by Beth Moore, and she makes an intriguing comment: “In Persia, and in culture today, beauty was something you did, something you do, not something you are; that’s why you feel like it’s never enough.” Going along with the study, she then states,
“It’s tough being a woman in a world where beauty is a treatment.”
This struck me, because she’s right. Our culture has conditioned the achievement of beauty to be an act of changing something about yourself: styling your hair a particular way, working out for a slim figure, wearing makeup that enhances or hides, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I like my hair to work a particular way, I enjoy exercise, and (while I’m not as intense about it) I do like wearing makeup. But even more than those things, there is something deeper I want to embrace. I long to make beauty something I am, something I embody and express, not a reason to physically alter myself. I want beauty to be in my encounters with people, in my decisions, in how I approach life. I think this is the kind of beauty that lasts. This beauty is sincere. This beauty breathes hope, joy, and life.
This is why I would want to be thought of as beautiful: because of who I am, heart mind and soul — in Christ. Now, don’t think I’m a crazy extremist. I am human, after all, and desire to be thought of as beautiful by those that truly love me, but I don’t want even those people (those wonderful people), or this culture, to be the dictator of how I perceive and define myself… or how I perceive and define others!
Colossians 2:10 says that in Christ I have been made complete. Glory, glory. Just like this, how my hair looks at this moment, what kind of clothes I wear right now, etc — I am complete. The people in my life who think I am beautiful are gifts of joy God grants. :)
The second thing I have realized recently, and this came in a comment made by a friend of mine (a mom of three young kids to be exact). She said, in a matter of words: The natural way of life, reality, is that we age. I don’t understand why women want to avoid this at all costs. I’m okay with aging, that is how life goes. Of course I take care of myself now, to be healthy, but life is meant to be lived. That living also means aging.” This mindset was so lovely to me, and I admired it in her. She has a great point though. It’s pointless to try and stop aging… it does happen. So age well, don’t hate it when it happens, it’s representative that you have lived. Make it beautiful! That’s also what she was getting at. There is beauty in getting older: you experience more life, usually you gain more family, you grow closer to the heart of Jesus, and you develop a wisdom that can be poured into younger hearts. I think this is wonderful. I don’t want to be afraid of aging, for fear that I won’t be beautiful anymore. Reality is: we will age. So then I must ask: how do I want to serve and honor Jesus? How do I want to love and serve people? With a soul filled to the brim with Jesus. And the way my soul becomes full of Jesus is by choosing to love and make him Lord of my every day.
I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me. Song of Solomon 7:10
And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us…. Psalm 90:17