Thursday, March 11, 2010

More Talk On Beauty

I love, love, LOVE the comments I'm getting from yesterday's post, both here and on Facebook. Let me make one thing perfectly clear--GOD IS PRIMARILY CONCERNED ABOUT OUR HEARTS! I am not advocating that we spend inordinate amounts of time prettying ourselves up. I am only saying we should not neglect our outward appearance. Cultivating a gentle and quiet spirit does not give us an out in working on our temple of the Holy Spirit.

Let me reiterate yesterday's main point:

Outer beauty IS important to God, not as important as our hearts, but part of the total beautiful package He's created in each one of us.

I know speaking of beauty in this way is uncomfortable. I've struggled with it myself. I've seen how others are intimidated or write off a beautiful woman simply because of her looks. To my utter astonishment, I've heard too many times about my being “unapproachable.” I've wrestled with how to represent myself to avoid such misunderstanding. Is it more loving to “dress down,” to go without makeup or do the bare minimum with my body for the sake of others?

In my struggle to understand, my husband gave me some wise words. “Why would you say you shouldn't look your best because it might make others feel bad? You don't do that in any other area of your life. You would never say ‘I better not play my clarinet too well or someone might feel bad’ or ‘I better not be too prepared for Bible study so I don’t make anyone feel inferior.’ ”

I never want to be guilty of saying any part of my life is "good enough" for God. If I am not my best for Him (or at least working to be my best), I am not giving Him His due.

It feels weird to say I want to look good for God, but I do. I want to be all He has created me to be and part of His intent in creating me (OR YOU) is to reflect His beauty. FIRST AND FOREMOST we need to work on our hearts, our inner spirit, our relationship with God, the unseen, eternal part of us. THERE IS NO BEAUTY WITHOUT HIS TOUCH ON OUR HEARTS. But we should not neglect our outer self, the image and representation of God. We are the only part of God our fellow man will ever see.

We reap a major benefit from attending to our outer beauty. When we are comfortable in our own skin, it frees us to put our mental energy into more Godly pursuits. When I am confident enough with my outside I am more likely to pursue relationships, to speak up in a crowd, to act on the love of God in my heart. I personally have spent WAY too many years feeling inadequate, hiding myself away being self-conscious about my physical body. What has that attitude prevented me from doing for God? How much time have I wasted? Will I have to give account for that when I get to heaven?

There's a reason women want to be beautiful. It's part of our makeup, our innate knowledge. Just as we have an undeniable yearning to know God before we can even articulate it, we know we are meant to reflect His beauty. Cultivating beauty starts in our HEARTS, but we should not think our outside matters nothing to Him.

Photo Credit: prakhar


Edie said...

Tam, I love this, love this, love this! I think sometimes the "world" has opportunity to look down on Christians just because we sometimes present ourselves as dumpy or unconcerned with the outside as if it is some kind of badge of honor. Self sacrificing or something. All women can be beautiful and I find myself looking in awe at some of them I know. When their heart for the Lord is showing and they couple that with doing the best with what they are given outwardly the effect is amazing. The beauty is astounding and flies in the face of worldly beauty because of the complete God given package!

Kelly said...

Tami :) ~ I'm in complete agreement that as believers, we need to be concerned about the "total package" involved in wanting to glorify God in our lives and point others to Him. What I question is how do we go about determining what the "total package" looks like. If we say that the total package is the heart plus a certain KIND of outward appearance (physique, dress, style, etc.), then I think we run the risk of becoming like the world in our evaluation and not truly seeing one another as God sees us. Can an overweight, plain looking woman testify about God's grace on the same level that a thin, trim, beauty bomb? Of course!

Again, my concern in reading the post was that just because something is descriptive in Scripture, doesn't necessarily mean it is prescriptive. Just because we read of David's physique or are told that Esther was beautiful does not necessarily prove or disprove that God values physical beauty and places an importance on it as necessary for Him to use people. In as much as His creation and the beauty He's created brings glory to Himself -- I see that this is what is of the greatest importance to Him.

Again, I totally agree that we need to be concerned with how we are adorning ourselves -- inwardly and outwardly -- but even there, I don't find anywhere in Scripture that a certain KIND of outward appearance is prescribed in being more useful or of more importance to God. This is what I think woman need to hear and be reminded of over the clamor and noise that our society shouts out! "Man looks at the outward appearance, but GOD looks at the heart." We do see a command for beauty to be expressed in modesty, in purity and in temperance, which would address not going to either extreme in our appearance. But that woman who struggles being comfortable in “her own skin” needs to desperately be reminded of her identity in Christ and His love and acceptance of her, not made to feel like she could better fulfill God’s purposes or be used more by Him if she was just more attractive. I’m not saying that we ignore addressing those areas, but to address those areas without addressing the truth of what is important to God, we make ourselves no different than the world around us.

And it is here that I, again, am SO thankful for God’s Word. How can God make it any clearer to us what is truly important to Him, "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and wearing of gold jewelry and find clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of GREAT WORTH in God's sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands." I Peter 3:3-5

How do we "look good" for God? Posses that inner and unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit that continually places our HOPE in Him! :) There is absolutely nothing wrong with physical beauty; but let us not lose sight of what is truly beautiful to Him!

And woman -- you are the total package! :)

Tami Boesiger said...

Edie--You speaka my language, girl.

Kelly--I'm SO GLAD you came back. You make some good points. I especially like this: just because something is descriptive in Scripture, doesn't necessarily mean it is prescriptive. I'm still pondering that.

I don't think ANYONE can dictate what KIND of outward beauty we should be shooting for. That is a personal conviction between each woman and God. I'm just saying we all need to have this conversation with Him!

Being comfortable in my own skin does not mean God will or can use me more. But I know for myself, it makes me more likely to take risks for Him. It makes it easier to do what He's asked. I don't think we realize we can be trapped in our bodies the same way we can be trapped in our ignorance.

Too bad you don't live closer so we can talk about this in person. I'd love to see your eyes sparkle as you get going. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Love you.