“Beauty is fleeting,” they say. And to some extent that is true. People become less and less attractive as they age; liver spots, sagging skin, wiry gray hair, calluses… Not the most appealing things in the world. But on another level, truly beautiful people only shine brighter with age.
My mother was voted “class flirt” (sorry mom!). She was that girl in school; everybody loved her and she was pretty to boot. The kind of girl the rest of us think “not fair!” about. She is getting older, as is naturally expected, and some of the things that got her onto the most popular list back then are gone now. What remains, however, is her heart. She is generous, optimistic, compassionate, joyful and hard working. The things that make her a true beauty queen have become more enhanced since she was a girl. Now people call her beautiful all the time and while they are also complimenting her appearance they are mostly exalting her remarkable heart.
Now that I have a daughter the subject of beauty seems to keep coming up (God?). I want her to know that the standards of beauty set by our culture are shallow and vain. They lead only to pride, destruction and an empty end. I have known people who set a very high value on their physical appearance. I have yet to see anyone follow that path to happiness or, more importantly, to God’s glory. I want Raychel to learn how to be deeply beautiful and how to consider God’s approval over anyone else’s (even ours). The pressure for girls to be pretty, to be skinny, to be up to date with their style is sickening. I don’t want RJ to feel inadequate because she doesn’t have certain things or feel “homely” because her face is not covered beneath powders and creams.
I want her to know all this, but do I know all this? If my gorgeous little girl sees Mommy stand in front of the mirror and put on make up every day is that telling her that I can look directly at the face God gave me and find ways to make it better, that His provision was insufficient? Will I send the message that my vanity is acceptable as long as I do not wear low cut shirts and tight jeans? Will I relay to her the same insecurities I feel about my own appearance? Lord, teach me to give her truth.
I’m not against taking care of our bodies… God gave them to us to use and part of getting the most out of them is good hygiene and maintenance. I even think that He gave us inherently beautiful things in regards to our physical selves. Our hair, for example, is often very beautiful. Without dyes or styling it still shines and flows and glimmers in the sun. Our eyes are usually stunning – filled with color and depth, shaped by lashes that not only protect, but enhance their aesthetic appeal. Our skin can be very pretty in and of itself; creamy, tanned, rosy. I do not believe that God is against beautiful people. We are part of His creation and He creates masterpieces.
But somehow we have chosen to exploit these things. We raise the importance of physical beauty to a severely unhealthy extreme. Like so many things we have perverted, I think beauty is a gift from our Creator, meant to be enjoyed in measure not indulged in gluttony.
I’m not sure what this means for me and RJ. At this point I don’t think I am convicted that all make-up and all pretty clothes are bad. I still think that there are appropriate times for all of it. But I think I am starting to feel a nagging in my spirit that my focus is distorted. I have cared far too much about how people see me on the outside and not enough how God perceives my heart. I’m still working through all of this and plan to write more on it later.
“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” -Proverbs 31:30
“Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” – 1 Peter 3:3-4
I would hate for her to ever think that she needed to cover this precious face in make-up to be beautiful.