Yesterday I held one of my Little Darlings on my lap and noticed the back of her pink T-shirt read, “Beauty.” The front advertised Beauty and the Beast, which is my favorite Disney animation for many reasons.
As we cuddled, I pondered what is beauty?
In the restroom of the coffee shop that inspired Cuppa Josie’s in my Lakeside novels, a framed photo of an elderly woman with more wrinkles than smooth skin, a toothless smile, and kind eyes hung on the wall. The caption under the photo read, “True Beauty.”
When I observe people, I notice their outward appearance first. And yes, sometimes I make snap judgments to that snarky voice inside my head. I’m human. But trying to change that…the snarky voice, not the human part…liking that.
My grandma was one of the most beautiful women I knew. She stood under 5′ tall with a round shape, gnarled arthritic hands, threads of gray streaking her thinning hair, but she had the kindest heart. Her love for Jesus shined in all she did. She was a farmer’s wife for over fifty years. Her house was never immaculate, but my best memories are cradled in that drafty farmhouse with the creaky floors, stainless steel countertops and cellar that fit in any Ted Dekker novel…okay, maybe not that last one, but her cellar was a little creepy.
Today’s society seems to believe true beauty is outwardly–flawless skin, perfect body, and flowing hair. But not every body fits within a Photoshopped image. That woman who battles her weight may not be an overeater, but suffers from a medical condition. The woman with thinning hair may have alopecia or other medical condition that prevents her hair from looking like a shampoo commercial. And those scars? And those stretch marks? Maybe that woman carried her babies to term only to lose them upon delivery.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV
Having self-confidence and a positive body image are important for overall self-esteem, but don’t let the outer body detract from inner beauty. After all, we’re all going to grow old and gain pounds. Our skin will become wrinkled as our eyesight and hearing fade. Our hair will thin, go gray or white, or even start to fall out. Outer beauty of our youth fades. Inner beauty–how you respect yourself, treat others, and love the Lord–continues to grow no matter how many birthday candles are on your cake.
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeing; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 31:3 NIV
Your Turn: How would you define true beauty? Describe a beautiful person in your life.