Saturday, November 2, 2013


Beauty.  It is a relatively short word -- only six letters.  Only two syllables.  Yet it is anything but a simple word.  At first glance, it appears simple.  Beauty is in the autumn trees, the painting by Monet, the melody of a song.  But beauty is also what drives us to stand in front of mirrors for an hour or more, staring at our bodies, painting colors on our faces, plucking, primping, fixing.  It compels us to buy so many shoes -- ones that, when we wear them, make us totter on the balls of our feet, pain shooting through us.  It makes girls feel the need to no longer eat, no longer feel loved or needed.  Is it beauty's fault?  Not really.  But our perception of beauty is what kills us.

I'm just a seventeen year old girl, with a loving family, friends, a place to live.  I know Jesus.  I feel content with the way my life is going.  Yet, there is that lurking doubt.  I see the people on tv.  Or the girls who look so put together at the mall or even at youth group.  And they are, to me, perfect.  They have glossy hair and smooth, glowing faces.  They are comfortable with themselves.  They are popular, and have boyfriends, and look so happy.  And sometimes I wonder if I'm doing it wrong.

Like, if I straightened my hair and bought more product to put in it -- or maybe if I went out and bought the new clothing fad.  Or if I could talk with that kind of ease, or smile sweeter.  Maybe then I would look better.  Maybe I would be beautiful.

But even as those doubts slip into my mind, I know that they are lies.  Ugly lies.  Lies that say that I am not good enough, even though I am just the way God intended me to be.  I have no reason to be unhappy -- yet just on those days that I feel the most content, something will step in and make me feel less than enough.  And I know that it isn't right.  Beauty isn't in the false perfection of photoshop-ed models or people masked in layers of makeup and clothing that aren't themselves.  And I know it, but I still feel inadequate sometimes.

I was thinking about this the other day -- thinking of this problem of feeling imperfect and ugly when we are made by the Creator of the morning sunrise and the midnight stars.  And, suddenly it hit me.  I will never feel beautiful if I'm looking at myself.  I cannot wear enough makeup or enough of the right clothes or act enough like the people around me to be "beautiful."

Because when I focus on ME I am not beautiful.  I am selfish.  And selfishness is ugly.  When I am feeling bad for myself, I am ugly.  When I'm comparing myself to someone else, I am ugly.  And that is because, I am not being the way God intended me to be.  But when I forget about this clay vessel that I am, and start to focus on the problems outside of me -- the places I can serve in, the people that I can reach out to -- that is when I'm beautiful.

I realized this when I was reading an amazing post over at God's Gal's blog.  It was a letter to all the girls in the world who didn't have the opportunity to have an education, or choose who'd they marry, or simply have the freedom to step outside by themselves.  She was writing to the girls who have no hope and no freedom.

And suddenly I realized that my hardest decision of the day was which pair of shoes I was going to wear out the door.

Why do I care if I am beautiful?  There are women in Africa who cannot read.  Why do I worry about what people think about my sweater?  There are girls in Asia being pressured to commit suicide because their families didn't give their husbands enough of a dowry, and the husband wants to marry again.  Why does it matter if I am perfectly happy?  There are babies crying out for love and life when they have been abandoned because of deformities.

How can I think about beautiful when I see the suffering and despair around me?  And how can I be anything but beautiful, the way God intended, when I reach out my heart to a lost and hurting world?


  1. You made me remember Tim Timmon's song "Let's Be Beautiful." When he says or rather asks "Are we lovely, are we shining, are we looking at the One we love
    Or is His glory divided ‘cause we’re looking at ourselves too much?" Beauty on the inside is what matters most to God :)

    1. I can't believe I didn't think of this song! It has such a great message about true holiness and beauty. Thanks for reminding me of it, Lizzie!