Have you ever read/ listened to someone else's words and felt like you were hearing your own heart - only strung together in a much more beautiful way than the jumbled mess in your mind? I felt exactly that way when I read a post on the blog by Daughters Of Promise.
The subject of beauty, and all that goes with it, is one that gets a lot of attention at my house these days. I'm raising three daughters, you see. I long for them to grasp the meaning of true beauty and struggle with the best ways to guide them.
I've never used make-up or nail polish or any of a host of other things most normal girls at least experiment with. Honestly?Most of the reason is that I am a very practical person; I hate anything extra that takes up large portions of time and money. Beautifying routines are just a pain in the neck for me, certainly waaay more trouble than they're worth, in my mind.
I realize I'm strange. I realize that for me to squash all my daughter's girlish desires for beauty on the basis of my own is not quite fair of me. I want to be careful to not teach something as sin, that is actually a God given desire. But there's more to it than that.
I long for my daughters to realize the truth: that God made them beautiful exactly the way they are. That accepting and embracing the masterpiece He created is more beautiful than any painting or tinting or manicuring they can ever do themselves.
And that is the message so beautifully given in this post that Anita Yoder is kindly allowing me to share here with you.
Where’s that eye cream my friend gave?
This was my thought the minute I saw my eyes have crow’s feet when I smile.
When I noticed wisps of silver at my ears and temples: I’m too young for grey hair. Where can I buy some brown tinted shampoo?
I didn’t think I had a complex about my age. I don’t notice wrinkles and grey hair on other women. But on my face? Suddenly I was aware of a complex I couldn’t even name.
It had something to do with my idea of my face, and wrinkles and grey hair didn’t fit into that. Or then it was connected to my self-image, and my body’s new developments messed with who I thought I was: not beautiful, but not aging.
What is beauty, anyhow? I started mulling.
The miles of aisles selling cremes, toners, colors, and oils seem to imply beauty is in a bottle or package. Particularly one with shiny wrapping and curlicue graphics. The bottle’s contents will surely imbed the same attractiveness on your face or hair or legs.
Age-defying. Blemish-perfecting. Clearer skin after 7 days. Glossy hair – in the color of your choice. Break-through ingredient. Regenerating technology. Nature’s micro-oil infusion. Shimmering. Instantly luminous.
Beauty is something you can hold in your hand, exchange for some money, and keep within arm’s reach every day. Or on your vanity, catch-all basket, or bag. (Beauty is also the style and color of your shoes. Or scarf. Or belt design.)
Several years ago when a friend was approaching 40, I noticed the wrinkly skin at her wrists and thought I’m glad my hands don’t look like that. But now I’m 40 and her skin has become mine. When I spot the odd discolorings that used to be clear, and sagging skin that used to be firm and smooth, I feel compelled to run out to find the bottle with the graphics that promise me the fluid that will instantly restore the effects of sun, wind, caffeine, and hormone changes. If not instantly, then at least in seven days.
In my town, I watch a woman with a lithe figure join another fitness group. I observe a young girl with professionally-manicured nails buy a new color of nail polish. Women cluster around moisturizers on sale because today beauty is finally more affordable. Tomorrow it’ll be too late and beauty’s promise will evade them.
I cannot scorn these women because when I give myself permission to be honest, I feel the same desperation and compulsions. I walk down the sidewalk, past hundreds of drop-dead gorgeous women and sophisticated men, and I feel their eyes stop on me, sometimes curious, sometimes disdainful. (In Eastern Europe, status quo and fashion are uber-important, and staring seemingly isn’t considered offensive.) When their eyes catch mine, I know their attention was arrested by my unfashionable clothes and white veil, but what I really wish is that they’d think my eyes or smile or hair are gorgeous enough to catch their eye.
Or am I the only woman who wants to look amazing enough for a stranger to admire her face?
Part of being a whole woman means recognizing the pull – the groaning, longing, powerful tug – inside our hearts toward beauty. To be acknowledged as beautiful. To respond to beauty. To connect with its power.
Because beauty is powerful. It shouts and sings and cajoles. It can be heard above the noise and distractions of the dusty daily. It soothes and comforts and refreshes.
It is so compelling and powerful that woman’s first fall from grace involved noticing beauty, responding to it, and demanding it. Eve did what every alive woman does when beauty, not God, calls the shots. She responded to what pleased her eyes and took it into her hand for herself. Who said you can’t hold beauty in your hand?
Sometimes when I stand in a store, the shiny packages and sleek ads remind me of that fruit that looks so pretty. Youth in a package. Beauty in a bottle. It fits in your hand, smooth and shining and promising.
This is not a call to dump all our creams and never again patronize a pharmacy. This is a call to mindfully engage the messages we’re absorbing. We may be believing some lies about beauty or ourselves. We may be scared of beauty’s power. We may be demanding it, plucking it off in handy sizes to enhance, defy, and manipulate.
Striving and grasping defeats beauty. So keep it simple, sweetie! Eliminate the body odor. Trim the chin hair. Clean and smooth your nails and heels. Part of beauty is being at rest, not obsessing, insisting, grabbing.
Being at rest and being beautiful requires knowing our Creator and His heart. His hands would never shape something untrue to His character. We, His pieces of art, are beautiful as soon as we use the smile He gives. Have you noticed this? It is an endless joy to me, how an other-wise plain girl’s face is transformed when she smiles.
Beauty isn’t in a bottle. It’s in an identity that is more true and deep and changeless than the loveliest skin you ever saw.
Anita Yoder hales from Guys Mills, Pennsylvania, with pieces of her heart scattered from Virginia to Ireland to Poland. If you liked her words here, you might enjoy checking out Tis A Gift To Receive, where she blogs about the exciting adventures and ordinary days of her life.