Sunday, April 29, 2012

Beauty

Makeup. Expensive Clothes. Hairstyles. Tanning Salons. Manicures. Pedicures. Hair Dyes. Lotions. Shoes. Plastic Surgery. Jewelry. Eating Disorders. Straighteners. Cosmetics. Diet Plans. The list goes on...and on...


If you haven't noticed yet, the thirst for beauty in our world is one of the strongest driving forces of culture. Women spend their entire life striving to improve their beauty. Some women are considered gorgeous, and others are very homely looking. Even though all are people are valuable, it may seem that despite how much we wish it to be otherwise, some women have "it" and others not so much.


So the thought comes to mind, "Is it fair?" I mean, if beauty is one of the most sought after things in the world, and some women just don't have it no matter how much effort they give, is it really fair?







Are some girls just doomed to never be captivating?


The answer to this question goes deeper than what people really realize. Many a social reformer has tried to combat the emotionally crippling, esteem debilitating problem of self image. 

Some of these cultural reformers go about this problem by saying that beauty is a complete non-issue. They would say that that the superficial appearance is so insignificant that it should not be acknowledged. Others, in a more mainstream way, have tried to say that every woman is equally beautiful. No woman stands out in their beauty, but all are gorgeous in their own way. What is so sad...is that neither really helps those who struggle...because no matter how hard they try and believe what they hear, they realize that deep down inside they can't compare to those specially stunning people. Culture is inching closer and closer to equalizing everything. Everyone is the same. You are perfect the way you are. There is no reason to distinguish people in their own strong traits. Despite all of that, the people who lack physical beauty know that they just can't match up...




It is truly upsetting, because even after all these attempts...women are even more pressured in their attempts to make themselves the "most beautiful woman ever". After all rescue attempts on the culture, the problem has just gotten even worse. Many women of all ages suffer from depression, social exclusion, and suicidal tendencies due to self image.




So what....really....is the answer?


The answer to this ever growing problem can be found from the Bible, God's written word. Peter, an apostle of the Lord wrote primary to this issue.

 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. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves." -I Peter 3:3-5 (NKJV)

Peter's writing is completely counter culture, but not in the sense that some say. For example, some say that it is wrong for women to wear nice clothes, makeup, jewelry, or other beauty products. Inspired by the Holy Spirit to write these things, Peter was not saying that at all. Women in the Bible in multiple places adorned themselves while being in accordance with God's will.

"I clothed you in embroidered cloth and gave you sandals of badger skin; I clothed you with fine linen and covered you with silk. I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your wrists, and a chain on your neck. And I put a jewel in your nose, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth." -Ezekiel 16:10-13
* I is God
*You is Jerusalem

Even though this is a metaphor for God's love for Jerusalem, it clearly exemplifies how God feels about adornments and physical appearance.

So now that we know Peter is not speaking about completely disregarding outward beauty, what does he really mean? Peter is simply saying that the true, important beauty of a woman is her inner person. He speaks of her,"hidden person of the heart" and,"the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit". Peter's goal in writing this is to shift our primary attention from the outward beauty to the inward condition of the heart. 

That is the main solution. Change your focus of energy, frustration, attention, and determination to improving the person of your heart. For as both you and I know, our bodies can only change so much. Some people are gifted physically more than others and that's just  the way it is sometimes. Thanks be to the Lord that we all can devote ourselves to improving our inner person till the day we die. If you find your confidence and self esteem in your character, the physical problems will become secondary and almost insignificant.

A beautiful example of this in the Bible that recently caught my attention was the story of Ruth. As Ruth, a poor Moabitess was gleaning in the field, she met Boaz, an Israelite. Ruth caught Boaz's attention for a very special reason.

"And Boaz answered and said to her, 'It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before. The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.'Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?'" -Ruth 2:10-11 (NKJV)

Ruth did not stand out to Boaz for her beauty but for her wonderful heart. If you know the book of Ruth, it is a touching love story which results in the marriage of Ruth and Boaz who are then are used by God in the lineage of Jesus Christ. This story just goes to show how important it is to be recognized and singled out for your inward beauty.

So you ask again, how can people in a culture so centered around physical beauty have hope and joy even if they themselves are not beautiful?

The answer is to develop your identity in who you are on the inside and treat your outward appearance as an augmentation. The next time you compare yourself to someone who is much more beautiful than you, remember what truly matters and focus on improving your inner self. Contrawise, to those who look down on those who are not as outwardly blessed, remember that outward appearance is transient, but the inner person of the heart matters eternally. The more I read the Bible and grow the more I realize what a massive separation the Lord draws between the physical realm and the spiritual realm. Change your focus to the unseen things and everything will make more sense.

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day." -II Corinthians 4:16
Godbless

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