Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Beauty - Much Deeper than Skin

I recently finished reading a book called Glorious Opposite by Veronica Edmond. She contacted me while she was in the process of writing it, because of a blog post of mine that she read. The post was about scars, and how they can be ugly, but also can be a "sacred call to always remember" what God has brought you through. Veronica's book is all about her experience with breast cancer. The cancer and subsequent disfigurement were very difficult for her and her husband to face, and apparently my blog post encouraged her to see her scars differently.

I received an email from Veronica, and it included a devotional reading entitled You Are My True Beauty. It was very uplifting, and it prompted me to hit the Word to see what God says about true beauty. We're inundated with the world's ideas about beauty - women who are thin and voluptuous, dressed fashionably and bejeweled and bedazzled are all around us in magazines, on billboards, and some of them are even walking among us! Most Christian women would say that those women achieve a beauty that is only "skin deep". In 1 Peter chapter 3, I found that there is a beauty that goes much deeper than skin - it goes heart deep. "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." Oh I just love it when the Bible gives us a clear definition of something! We see a contrast here between what people think is beautiful and what God thinks is beautiful.

We've all seen the contrast: a beautiful woman, impeccably dressed and made up, shoes and handbag matching, earrings and bracelets all coordinating, scented expensively and not a strand of hair misplaced. I remember secretly envying a woman just like that. I was on the bus to school. She stepped on and captivated my attention, even at 8AM! In just a split second, I knew I wanted to trade lives with her. And then it happened - she opened her mouth, and the image of beauty quickly flitted away, replaced with harshness and anger focused at the poor bus driver. There had been an accident, so he was ten minutes late arriving at her bus stop. She couldn't find her bus pass, so she was digging in her Coach purse for exact change, while the driver patiently waited. She fumed when she realized the bus was full and she would have to stand. "No one gives their seat up for a lady anymore," she huffed out. I wanted to retort, "maybe if they saw one, they would!" but I held my tongue. In that brief time, my beauty idol systematically erased all traces of her "skin deep" beauty and her true self was exposed. It was a self that was completely "me" centered.

Fortunately I've had the privilege of experiencing the opposite in the contrast. A woman, older, bald from chemo, dry skin covered with sores; barely was she able to lift her head, let alone consider makeup and clothing. Yet her quiet confidence in Christ shone brightly in her eyes, through her words. In her worst time, she was a fragrance of the knowledge of Christ to everyone who saw her. (2 Cor 2:14) This is my beauty idol! This is the makeover that I want!

We women all strive to be beautiful. We want those around us to think that we've got it all together and it looks good. We worry about what our friends, spouses and co-workers all think of us, when we really should be concerned with how God thinks of us. And He's provided us with His beauty tips! You won't find them in Glamour or Cosmo, though. You gotta hit the Word!