Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Why God loves outer beauty, too

In a field of pretty wildflowers just before the storm, 7 young hearts found a moment to feel treasured.

I can't claim this as my own original idea- I got it from an inspiring and beautiful blog written by someone who speaks the whispers of my heart onto the pages of the Internet. Funny how that works. After reading this particular post, I knew that this needed to happen for "my girls" because my own heart needed to hear the same thing at their age.

We've been told countless times that "inner beauty is what's important" and "being pretty doesn't matter as much as the condition of your heart." And it's true- "Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised" (Prov. 31:30). Nor should the definition of our beauty come from beautiful hair or fine jewelry (1 Pet. 3:3-6). Young (and old) women should hear this message countless times, because the chasing of "perfect" outer beauty is entirely meaningless.
What I fear, however, is that Christians train young women to believe that only inner beauty should be appreciated or maintained.

When I told my girls that they would be photographed by a friend, I was so relieved to find them ecstatic. They began planning what to wear and how to coordinate everything. I told them to dress however they wanted because we were going to celebrate the artwork that God designed long ago when He created each one of these beautiful girls. And they are beautiful, aren't they?

I remember the days when I stood in front of a mirror for what seemed like hours, frustrated and in tears over the "mess" of frizzy and curly hair that God had seemingly cursed me with. Sometimes those days still creep back to taunt me when I remember a passing comment made by a guy in high school who referred to another curly-girl as having "disgusting hair. How could anyone ever run their fingers through it? So gross." The comment stuck and the Devil reigns on... but only on the days that I forget what a masterpiece I truly am.

"The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your Lord." -Psalm 45:11

He is delighted by the masterpiece He created in each one of us. Every strand of hair, freckle, crooked toe, and outie belly button is crafted specifically by our Creator to worshipfully declare His genius design. And we glorify Him immensely when we delight in that design instead of damaging it.

"For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well." -Psalm 139:13-14

We live in a fallen world, so there will still be flaws. Acne and muffin tops will be around 'til Jesus returns, and if "He will wipe every tear from their eyes," I'd love to believe that those things will not exist in Heaven (but don't quote me on that).

But what if we stopped focusing so much on the flaws and instead focused on how the Creator designed us to be? He created us as beautiful, unique, and wonderful individuals- and the way we are designed is not a mistake. In fact, it's a masterpiece.

Don't get this masterpiece confused with a knock-off version found in the makeup aisle. They sell those things in magazines. Divinely-created beauty does not come from caked makeup or obsessive hair-straightening; it doesn't even come from a skinny tummy or carefully-crafted eyebrows. The beauty that God intends for us to celebrate comes from the very body that we daily attempt to alter. But look at how beautiful you can look when you stand confident in the knowledge that He created you to be a masterpiece:

"Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered in shame" (Psalm 34:5).

The smile and joy and radiance that flows from a Christ-honoring and God-delighting body is beautiful to the Lord and to others. These beautiful faces were captured through photos so that they would be able to tangibly see what the Lord sees- and they would have looked beautiful regardless of what precious outfit they had picked out, by the way.

I still struggle to appreciate my body and my hair and myself. I still stand in front of the mirror, pointing out to myself all the wrong things about what I see. But I don't think "loving myself" is the point- after all, we are full of sin and ick. The point is that I must learn to delight in the confidence that the same genius Creator who crafted the Grand Tetons and tidal waves and tulips is the Creator who fashioned me. So I look to my crafted beauty- thankful- and praise my Father in Heaven.

I think it's safe to say that our beauty reflects God's glory. How can we best glorify Him through our bodies? I believe that one way glorification can be captured is by protecting and treasuring the beauty He has given us in order to send praise back to Him. But there's so much more to it than that, and this is just the tip of an enormous iceberg.

What are you doing today to delight in His creation?

*pictures taken by Becca Hail


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