Sunday, April 23, 2017

Beauty

It’s a concept often in the background of our minds. It’s why we like certain places, websites, songs, and yes, even people. It affects many of our choices daily.

Our girls are taught that they are beautiful, that they should always think of themselves as beautiful, and that beauty comes from within. They are also shown that women go to great lengths to act like they believe what they preach. Make-up, surgeries, expensive clothes and gym memberships don’t always reinforce the sermons.

But lots of people talk about our need to feel beautiful. I’ve been wondering today, “Is it really a good thing to be beautiful today?”

I won’t say that beauty isn’t good in general. I could never deny that a beautiful flower, song or waterfall is good. But there are pros and cons to everything, and beauty is no exception.

I grew up thinking that I was too pretty to have fun outside with the boys, and that my prettiness, my girlness, was the weakness which they hated. Then I watched friendships crack because either the boy thought the girl was pretty and didn’t know how to react, or one of the girls got jealous of the prettiness of the other. Then men started looking at me in ways that made me feel uncomfortable, or making cat-calls that made me ashamed. I concluded that being pretty was simply not worth it, and decided to hide behind what I believed was “modesty.”

I’ve heard enough sermons on that every woman is beautiful to know that I have some beauty in me. God didn’t create non-beautiful humans, and you are no exception. But I’m sure that you have seen the perversion of beauty just as much as I have. To be honest, much of my life I have desperately wished I was boy. I wanted either a sister to show me that I was okay as a girl, or to be accepted by brothers’ friends. Neither one happened, and I had no one to enjoy beautiful things with, so as I grew older all that I saw of beauty was the mis-use of it.

I felt guilty if I dressed up for church and caught a guy watching me walk by. I threw away my favorite dresses because I got too many compliments (or just never wore them in public again). I don’t know if anyone else was afraid of beauty growing up, but I let that fear change me.
Beauty is full of power. The power of a waterfall to bring us to our knees in worship is its beauty. The power of a flower to heal a hurting heart is beauty. The power of a beautiful woman to inspire people… or to trip them up…  is a real thing. And I’ve always been afraid to have power with risk. It’s why I don’t yet have a driver’s license.

But if we just ignore this power, we are defeated by the cons. This goes with anything. If you’re injured in a sport that you’ve loved for years, do you dwell on the injury and never go back to play? I hope not. If your beauty is misused, do you hide it and never try to use it for good again? Do you decide it’s not worth trying to use for good? I did that, and I’m afraid too many of us do.
If the beauty of a waterfall is meant to bring us to worship God, have you ever seen it misused? I’m not talking about making a dam out of it, because that’s harnessing power God gave us and subduing the Earth. If someone were to worship the waterfall instead of the Creator, or worship Mother Nature instead of Jesus, that would be a misuse of the beauty of the waterfall. But would that mean that the waterfall should not be beautiful? No. It should still be beautiful, but why?

What is the purpose of beauty? If people want to be beautiful so badly, there must be real purpose to it. If it were simply to make ourselves feel better, it’s not worth it. If it were to get attention from others, not worth it. God doesn’t make so much of something that is useless. There must be something more.

I’ve made a number of things throughout my lifetime. Paintings, drawings, dresses, quilts, blogposts. Each time, they were done when I thought they were perfect. I worked on it, and didn’t stop until I was completely satisfied. If these things were for a gift, it was nice if the person I gave it to liked it, but that didn’t change my satisfaction with my work. If they wanted it altered, okay, it was their thing. But I was proud of it the way I made it, and it was beautiful to make me happy. I hoped it made other people happy, but that actually mattered less to me than my own satisfaction with my work.

I’m sure you know where I’m going with this. God didn’t make us to be beautiful to each other. He didn’t even make us to be beautiful to ourselves. He made us to be beautiful to Him. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if some people worship the waterfall instead of the Creator. We are simply to use our beauty to glorify Him, and what people do with it is their problem. We are to dwell more on what God thinks of us than what humans think.

Modesty is using beauty to glorify God, not distract each other or bring attention to ourselves.


So I guess the question isn’t “Is it good to be beautiful?” The question is, “How should we each glorify God with the beauty in us?”