Monday, September 26, 2011


I began seriously thinking about beauty while in the car with a group of women on my first “girl’s night out” in many years. The topics of coloring hair, manicures, pedicures, and all the sorts of things common to the female of Homo sapiens americanus were broached and discussed. Of course, I had little to say except to mention a funny story in which I realized that my husband knew more about these things than I. It turns out that I am comically oblivious to both the commonality of such beauty rituals as well as to how isolated is my own non-participation in such acts of obeisance to the throne of Youth. As we all chatted, I couldn’t help but wonder why any one of these gorgeous women would want to change their appearance—as if beauty were something served up in identical, cookie-cutter batches!
Speaking of cookies, anyone who eats real food knows that cookies purchased in the plastic box taste more like the box and less like an actual cookie, and one would likely be better off eating the box. Similarly, anyone who understands true beauty would see it embodied in these marvelous women in their resplendent individuality. What of this magazine-cover Barbie-doll with the plastic skin and hair who airs her equally plasticized cleavage with the same shamelessness as a sow wallowing in the barnyard mud? Who on earth declared that tired, old image to be beautiful or desirable? An even better question is; why do we believe such a base and obvious lie?
Stretch marks, smile lines, gray hair-- there are so many marks of loveliness, so many evidences of a life lived. These merely physical changes can be something we can pour endless time and money into, desperately trying to erase what the relentless march of time will ceaselessly rewrite, or they can be embraced as tokens of maturity, of character, of individuality and the august touch of a creative God who loves us just as He made us. Each human being is a true work of art, sculpted by a most ingenious and loving Artist -- from the cradle to the grave, with every wrinkle and freckle in between. That’s right, ladies, exactly as you are, you are exquisite, stunning, and astonishingly beautiful--because you are made by Him, and what’s more, made in His image! It is true that the sin curse will exact its toll, but I must urge you to look less in the mirror and more to Him.  You will see that the more your gaze is fixed on Glory, the more gloriously your own image fades and ceases to matter.  He is the only true measure of beauty because He is the author of it.  
For my part, I also prefer to remember that the marks of time are simple reminders that this body is wasting away.  I think, instead, I shall concentrate my efforts on Paul’s “inner man” (and here must I stubbornly assert my right as a female to use “man” to refer to all human beings) who is—or should be—being renewed day by day. I have always jokingly spoken of my age as the eternal 29, but I see that even that must go. Though a joke, it is still a nod toward that ridiculous idol of youth (even if I did honestly believe that I was a year older than the calendar states!) and it is my duty not to feed the fires of that altar. Rather, as we enter the fall of this year, I will think of entering this portion of my life as a season, too. I have much time before the winter closes in, but things are already changing on the outside. Yet, they are changing in anticipation of new life to come in the spring!
"Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised."Proverbs 31:30

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.