The Balancing Act of Beauty
There is something of a balancing act I have found myself sometimes struggling to figure out when it comes to beauty.
Many scriptures seem to indicate that the external things we so often focus on are not the things that determine beauty. In fact some seem to indicate that we should not be utilizing any of the world’s standards for beauty.
1 Peter 3:3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.
So why do I spend time curling my hair and improving the physical features on my face with makeup when it’s what’s inside of me that matters?
The key is that if you have not first and foremost devoted yourself to becoming godly, none of that matters. If you have perfected your hairstyle and know which colors make you look amazing and how to select clothing that flatters you, but you are not living a life of love for God and the people around you, then your true beauty is not developed.
The beauty that matters to the Lord comes from inside of you and it is allowing exactly who He made you to be to be released completely. This is why beauty looks different on different people. I hold a special memory in my heart of the day my husband first expressed his delight in my inner beauty. We were not even engaged yet. It was the end of the day and we were relaxing at the beach. At one point he looked at me and I had no make-up on and my hair was completely undone, but he saw something in me that enraptured him and with conviction he said, “You are so beautiful.” I think I originally looked at him with great confusion, but for him to have seen into my inner self and seen the truest part of me and to call it beautiful was inexpressibly meaningful to me.
My beauty is going to look different than yours, and yours different from your best friend’s. God made us all different and it is when we let out the essence of who He made us that real beauty is established. Are you compassionate to those in need? A good teacher, whether it is your profession or not? A lover of mercy and justice? An encourager? Talented in what you set your hand to? Your real beauty will come out when you know what your calling is and then walk in it.
I love this quote from a Nelson Mandela speech as it pertains to beauty:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
So while there is something we call “natural beauty,” that is a very subjective concept and is certainly molded significantly by the society we live in.
Mother Theresa most certainly let out the essence of who God made her to be. Her compassion is so much like that of Jesus. That is the rawest form of beauty I know of. I do not know Beyonce’s heart or what kind of compassion she has for the poor and those in need, but she certainly possesses a kind of beauty. And yet, if she has only concentrated on how to perfect her outer beauty, it is quite meaningless. Princess Diana had both outer and inner beauty. She had great compassion for those in need and used the platform God gave her to extend mercy to those who needed it, but she also was a beautiful woman externally.
Making way for the true beauty God put inside of you doesn’t mean that you need to go around dressing frumpy and drab. I believe it is a great gift to our husbands to present ourselves in the best way we can. Consider how educated clothing choices, well applied make up, and the healthiest body you can have would bless your husbands, but don’t focus on them at the expense of your character. If these things aren’t important to your husband then that is fine, but still present yourself the best way that you can. If he likes a certain color or piece of clothing on you, wear it intentionally to please him. If he likes your hair done a certain way, try to wear it like that within reason. You aren’t a servant to his wishes, but you can offer him some eye candy when appropriate. Above everything else remember:
Proverbs 31:30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.