Beauty... what is it?
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, 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.
Outward beauty is important, but inward beauty is imperative.
Without inward beauty, outward beauty is lost.
I remember when I lived in Holland. I was heavily pregnant with my son and had an active infant of around 10 months old, and I would go into town. I had Steven in my belly and Caitlin in the buggy, a bag over my shoulder and probably a few strung over the handles of the buggy. To lift the buggy onto the tram, up the 2 or 3 steps and go around the corner was no easy feat, but I would do it. One of these visits, a beautiful girl with 2 long braids in her auburn, shiny hair, freckles on her face and a cute and beautiful smile, approached me and offered me some help. I thought that that was very kind of her and without hesitation accepted her offer gratefully. I remember her waiting patiently with me as it came up time for me to get on and when the time was right she gripped the front of the buggy and helped me hoist the child, buggy and parcels onto the tram. As soon as I was settled, I looked to my purse to see where my ticket was so that I could stamp it and realised that my wallet was missing! I turned only to see her darting off the tram. I realised then that she was working with someone else, for she would look over my shoulder while we were waiting.
So what happened? I had been pick-pocketed and the worst of it was that there was not a lot of money in there, a few Guilders at the most. However, the wallet, which was given to me by a sister for a special birthday, was gone. In an instant that beautiful face became an ugly one. It faded instantly for me. Outward beauty and inward beauty reflect each other.
I also remember a man who boarded with us when I was at elementary school, and he was not a good looker. He had thick glasses and red, wild hair, but he was kind and caring, funny and helpful and so his looks faded into the distance as his personality shone brightly and we all loved and enjoyed him.
Now don’t get me wrong... it is not as if I disliked the pick pocket, I had to forgive her and did, it was just a lesson to me that looks ... well, one can’t judge a book by its cover.
So now I had to find some beauty... inner beauty....
Daily time with my Lord Jesus in His amazing word, the Bible, which was already a habit for me, is the best way to get that inner beauty. I had started in 2009, to memorise a verse a week. I meditated on it and wrote things down about it. Maybe a cross reference would come in my view and the dictionary would help me to understand more deeply what God was saying. It helped me to get to know my Lord and Saviour, Jesus, more intimately. I loved this habit and thrived on it and was not about to stop it, for certainly that was an inner strength for me too, as I would be facing these 2 weddings in one month.
Attending Bible studies was another habit I had acquired. This helped me to grow in inner beauty too, as I was challenged not only to get to know God and His word better, but as I was challenged to meet other people’s needs, or rubbed shoulders with them and would have to adapt so as not to offend, or rub the wrong way. It was all part of the growth that God wants for each one of us, growth so that we get to know Him more, but also to grow to be more like Him.
Then there was prayer... I realised that I need prayer pretty much as much as I need oxygen... talking to God. This is a very important part of inner beauty. I love to talk to Jesus about everything. I still have a lot to learn and likely make mistakes and forget, at the best of times, but I strive to pray without ceasing.
Does this mean that I am on my knees at all times, with my eyes closed and praying? Of course not. How can I when I have 2 weddings to prepare for and a family to care for? Plus there were a myriad of other commitments that I had. No, prayer for me became a lifeline in talking to God about all my everyday things. Shopping, cooking, what to say to the person on the phone, how to make my husband or daughter happy... Should I buy this bacon or that one? Won’t you please find me a good deal today Father? I really do not want to spend a lot of unnecessary money, so shower me with your favour. Thanks, in Jesus name. This is how I would talk, throughout the day, and you know what? He heard me! Every time! Amazing God.
Now these are some of the things that help me grow in an inner beauty, to achieve that gentle, quiet spirit that pleases God.
But of course, I would want to have an outer beauty too... it is just that the focus must not be on the outer beauty. The 2 reflect each other, very much so, but I have to be careful as to where we look for that outer beauty. Who am I aspiring to look like? Am I trying to match up to the world’s standards and weigh a certain amount and fit into a certain size? Do I try to do this in my own strength? Or am I leaning on God and asking Him to guide me?
Well, I had had many struggles in this area. I hated myself since I was a person who had struggled with weight issues my whole life. It was an issue in my mother’s life, (and some siblings too) for as I grew up people would tell her that she should not be eating that piece of cake, or maybe that slice of toast and jam with cottage cheese (which is delicious by the way!) and so I learned to be defensive and stubborn... just like my mom.
As I grew up and spread my wings and got to be married, I forgot to listen to what my heavenly Father told me about myself and I began to listen to the world... the critical world that says that overweight equals ugly, unhealthy, worthless, unworthy, unloved...
It was a long journey for me, and one which I did not want to pass on to my daughter. I tried to teach her that self worth should actually come from God. He gave us our worth, and tried to teach her too that being stubborn and eating whatever and how much one wanted to try and spite others, was not the helpful and beneficial thing to do, as well as hating oneself, but I failed miserably in this area, since I was telling her...
Do as I say and not as I do.
So now I was on a journey, to find a balance between inner and outer beauty...