Beautiful Like Jesus

Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be beautiful. With all my heart, I wished and prayed for beauty. I liked to imagine that I was a beautiful princess who would someday be the Queen. And when that day came, dozens of young men would want to marry me because I was the beautiful queen. I still remember how, when I was about six-years-old, a boy shyly told his friend that he wanted to marry me because I was “kind of pretty.” I recall blushing, smiling, and cherishing his compliment. It was a gift to be beautiful.

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As I grew up, this desire did not leave me. In fact, it only followed me with more fervour. I grew to understand the concept of ugliness and knew that I would never want to be that. And so as zits appeared I covered them with make-up. I put pretty dresses on and flowers in my hair. I adorned myself on the outside, all in the name of beauty.

It wasn’t until early this year that I realized how shallow and small this “beauty” was. Outward beauty is a gift from God, yes. And every girl should feel beautiful because every girl was created attractively by God. But there is something more. It’s like the cake behind the frosting which gives the sugar substance. It’s what makes each of us girls more than just pretty or even more than beautiful. It is the beauty of the Saviour.

 A wife (or woman) of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

Proverbs 31:10

I was at a church dinner. This woman and I were sitting at the same table and after the regular small talk introductions, we’d ventured into deeper conversations. I’d shared my insecurities, worries, and struggles from every detail of my life. It was a deep discussion, to say the least.

“You need to be beautiful at heart,” she suddenly told me. I actually don’t remember what brought these words on except that they came. “You’re already beautiful on the outside, but you need to be more than that.”

“You mean inward beauty?” I asked, fully familiar with the term.

“Yes,” she replied. “You need to be beautiful like Jesus. Do you know what I mean?”

I nodded though the concept that she spoke of — beautiful like Jesus — was slightly new. I knew what she meant yet I didn’t. Inward qualities such as love, patience, kindness, and self-control had always been on my radar. They rarely came easily to me, but I still strove for ‘inward beauty.’ Yet until that moment I hadn’t really considered Jesus’ qualities as beautifying to me as pretty clothing or a good complexion.

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the infading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

1 Peter 3:3-4

This concept of “Jesus Beauty” is still new to me. I have to admit that I’ve failed at it time and time again. I’m so ugly at heart sometimes that I am not even qualified to be writing this post. But I’m working on it because my fear of ugliness is even greater now. I want to be beautiful more than ever before — beautiful, like Jesus, that is.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Proverbs 31:30

The Make-Up Trap

It was amazing in totally the wrong way. It was exhaustive and saddening to the core of my heart. With one look at that little glass bottle full of gooey “pretty”stuff, the insecurities came back. My beauty and confidence melted and the overpowering addiction for make-up returned.

It was a youth event two weeks ago. The boys were doing “boy stuff” and us girls were doing, well, “girl stuff.” We were supposed to have makeovers. Every one was happy about it and no one could really understand why I wasn’t. After all, make up can get rid of things like zits and pimples, bring out eyes, give a pale face colour, and make a girl beautiful.

As I sat there, watching each girl get her make over done by a professional, I wondered what I should do. At first, my resolution was a firm “No.” I’d made a promise not to wear make up for a year and I wanted to stick to it. But as I watched each girl go up and saw the fun of picking colours out and how they glowed when the artist was finished, I started to succumb. With a little make up, we could all look beautiful.

Suddenly, I became aware of every imperfection on my face. I thought of the skin I wished were clearer. I remembered the red spots and the zits I just couldn’t get rid of. I felt my chapped lips and recalled how my cheekbones could be more defined. Thinking of this, I felt ugly.

I knew that the foundation would wash away my zits. I remembered how a little blush could make my cheekbones look perfect. Make-up, I realized, could make me beautiful.

I didn’t want to believe it, but I did. I’d come to refute the lie many times, but now I gave in. I had been called beautiful and accepted myself and every girl as such, with or without make-up several times in the ten months. Still, I couldn’t help but think that all of the guys would notice me as the odd one out with all the other girls in make-up. No one would think I was beautiful today. Now, with the bottles of foundation and eye liner brushes staring me in the face, I let go of all the beauty, confidence, and joy I had every known. The make-up made me feel uglier than I had ever felt before.

I was trapped that night in the church room with girls getting their make-up done. I was trapped by the lies and misconceptions about beauty. The force of a world without true beauty imprisoned me. I gave in to Satan’s lies that He tries to get me and every woman to believe. I fell into the make-up trap and my beauty disappeared.

But then it hit me, that I was believing a bunch of lies. As quickly as the temptation had come, God’s truth brought me back. I talked to my youth pastor. I looked at myself in the mirror and remembered that God had made me beautiful just the way I was. I realized that if just looking at make-up made me feel ugly, how much uglier would I feel when it was on my face?

There is nothing inherently wrong with make-up, in my opinion. I think that it can be fun to experiment with from time to time and that it is OK to use on a regular basis. I still wear it when I am in a play and will probably use a bit for special occasions like Grad or my wedding day. However, when it consumes you the way it consumed me a year ago it is not healthy. If you can’t live without it and feel ugly when it isn’t on your face then make-up is an addiction, a trap, and something that needs to be cut from your life.

That night, when we all came downstairs, I was happy with my choice. No one noticed that I wasn’t wearing make-up. My youth pastor and a leader even commended my choice. And throughout the night, I felt free like I had the first time I swam again, because make-up did not ensnare me. I didn’t have to worry about it melting off of my face or smudging. Instead of worrying about how ugly I would look without make-up, I smiled in the fact that God had made me beautiful.

What is trapping you today? Is it make-up? Or is it something else? What is holding you from freedom in Christ? I encourage you to take it to God today and fight against any insecurity that is holding you down. With His love, you can conquer your greatest fears.

Nothing Short Of Beautiful

“Oh, just so you know,” he got up out of the bench and looked into my eyes from where I was, across the room. “You are beautiful.”

A great joy filled me. “Thank you!” I replied, skipping out of the room. It wasn’t until I got to the hall that I realized that he had indeed called me beautiful. Yes, beautiful, those words that my heart had hungered to hear in description of me for so long. The words that my ears had likely heard time and time again throughout my life, but that my heart had never believed. But now, I knew that it was true…I was beautiful!

As I got ready for bed that night, I couldn’t stop thinking about my friend’s words. There was no romantic attraction on either side, and I had recently come to know his words myself but still they meant the world to me. I guess it was the confirmation that I was indeed what I had been trying to accept for so long. It was the truth of God, being spoken by a human being. Regardless, as I looked into the mirror that night, I truly felt beautiful.

I thought of the powder that I still wore a bit of, and the tubes of make-up I’d brought to acting school “just in case.” “No,” I said aloud. “I don’t need them anymore. I will never wear make-up again.”

And then I realized that nobody else needed make-up either. I looked at my friends, the other girls at the acting school, and saw their true, natural attractiveness. I watched sadly as some of them loaded up on make-up, consciously or unconsciously, and covered what God made to be beautiful. I saw them worry about mascara running and foundation smearing. I tried to reassure them, to help them understand that they were pretty, and attractive. Because we are nothing short of beautiful.

Yes, blue or brown or green or grey eyes. Thick or curly or straight hair. Tall or short, fine-boned or plump. Little feet or long legs, a small chest or rosy cheeks. It is all beautiful. The acne, weight, height or other “imperfections” that you have don’t change a thing. There is no make-up needed. You are nothing short of beautiful.

But why, why can’t we all see and believe it? Why do girls keep hiding behind eye-shadow and foundation and believing these lies? Why does the world say that we have to be this or that to be beautiful? Why can’t we all stop and realize that God made us and we are nothing short of beautiful?

I encourage you to realize the truth today…that you are beautiful. Please, never believe anything different! Encourage others around you and never feel the need to measure up to anyone else. God made you to be nothing short of beautiful and He is pleased with you.

 

The Courage To Dive

If you know how to swim, water shouldn’t be a problem for you. And, If you don’t know how, you can easily learn. Its not really a big deal. After all, children take swimming lessons at an early age, and kids beg their parents to take them to the lake in the summer. Consequently, most people would think it quite unlikely that a teenage girl could be extremely afraid of water.

But the truth is, up until quite recently, I was afraid of water. It wasn’t the deep end or the high dive or the river’s current that scared me. I knew how to swim. No, it was something quite different from that. Something much more than the fear of drowning. I was afraid to get my face wet.

You see, I used to wear make-up. Every morning, I put on a layer of foundation, blush, powder, mascara, and eye-shadow. I covered up zits, redness, and blemishes. I made my cheekbones and eyes stand out. I thought that with the make-up I was finally beautiful, but without it I wasn’t good enough. And so, no one could see me without at least some foundation and powder. No one. Otherwise, they would see the imperfections and blotches and my real face.

Of course, water would expose that real face. If I cried or ran through the rain or swam in a pool it would smear and fall off and then I would be nothing. If I went swimming, I could not be beautiful. So I tried my best to hide behind smiles, closed doors, umbrellas, and excuses.

But that kind of surface happiness only lasts for so long. Just like a powdered face under heavy rain drops, it melts away until there is nothing left. That is where I found myself one day, under the rain with almost none of my happiness left. I believed the lies that Satan told me, and I let them eat away at my soul and security. Those lies tore me to the core though, until I had to cry, I had to get wet, I had to live.

And so, I did. It wasn’t easy but God took me by the hand and showed me that I had the courage, the life, and the value to overcome my fears. So, I washed my face and walked into the world. After I took the mask off, the world became clearer and more beautiful to me. I saw things in a new light and love. I looked at everything and everyone (including myself) with a newfound beauty. Last week, when my friend invited me to go swimming, I said “yes” with a joy and courage, instead of hesitation and fear. I smiled when the waves splashed my face. I let him teach me how to dive because I was not afraid of getting wet. And when I looked at myself in the mirror, I had no shame or sorrow, just a smile.

Is there something in your life that is weighing you down? Please bring it to the Lord today! Remember that nothing is too big for Him! He loves you and He will bring you peace if you ask Him.

Unmasked At Last

This obsession with the mask started 5 years ago…

At first, it was just the realization that when I wore stage make-up in my plays, my new blemishes disappeared. With that, I found that I liked the look and the feeling of the mask much better. I looked forward to putting make-up on for my plays. Pretty soon, I began wearing the make-up a couple of times a week…then everyday…and then I couldn’t stop.

There isn’t anything particularly wrong with make-up, but the way that it consumed me wasn’t healthy because it brought me farther away from God, and His design for beauty. Last summer, I found myself refusing to swim, and when I did I had to rush to a mirror and put on more make-up. I always had to carry foundation with me in my purse, and I hated for people to see me without make-up. Wearing the mask distorted my view on beauty, and made me unhappy.

When I realized this, I wanted to change but I felt that I couldn’t. The mask had taken over so much that I didn’t even know where to begin. Finally, I said a prayer to God, and He told me that He would not take away my blemishes and zits until I saw myself as beautiful the way I was. I had to accept myself, and go out uncovered. I had to strip my mask, and delight in the true face that He had given me.

And today I did that. I left the mask and all its insecurities behind, and delighted in the love and confidence of God. I wore no mask.

I realized finally, that life without the mask is happier and freer. I did not have to worry about make up lines or smearing foundation on my white shirt. I didn’t have to remember to bring make-up along in my purse when I went out, and I could only smile when water dripped onto my chin during my dentist appointment. And when I looked in the mirror, I appreciated the beauty that God has given me even more. I found freedom, confidence, and beauty without the mask.

Charm is deceptive and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

– Proverbs 31:30

I challenge you to think of your insecurities and the ways that you try to hide them. Ask God for help, and persevere in finding ways to overcome the obstacles that keep you from full delight in Him.

What Is Beautiful?

Time and time again, I’ve asked myself: “Does this look good?” I’m constantly questioning my looks, changing my mind about how I should appear, and laughing at what I used to look like and how bad that was. It makes me wonder what is beautiful?

Throughout history, styles have changed: hair has gone up and down, and long and short, chest sizes have expanded and decreased, and the “ideal figure” has gone from plump to hourglass, to curvy, to slender to I don’t even know what. People have valued pale skin and others have created paint to make it just the opposite. At one time women spent hours before bed rolling their hair in rags and praying for curls…now they wake early to flatten any bit of wave  and hope that it will stay straight through the day. It makes me wonder what is beautiful?

Too many times, we are unhappy with how we look. Black tears roll down a female face, smearing the foundation that covers what she considers a disgrace. A girl lowers her eyes as she passes the mirror, not wanting to see the figure that she thinks is too fat and the complexion that is too red.  Another won’t go out unless her face is covered with a mask of make up. Still, the saddest of all stares at a rack of bones that she considers too fat and refuses to eat. It makes me wonder what is beautiful?

Because it’s certainly not these distortions I’m seeing.

Does beauty bring discontentment, sadness, and anger? Is it really about a certain measurement or colour of hair or skin? Why would beauty be different today than it was last year? Why should being beautiful be subjective?  How can true beauty be destructive? What is beautiful?

It doesn’t make sense to me. If it is always changing, than what is the point of beauty? If it is that subjective, how do you decide what is beautiful and what is not? If it is that destructive, then beauty is not really beautiful like we thought. Please tell me, what is beautiful?

The smile that is bright and the eyes that shine.

The ears that listen and the tongue that is gentle.

The hands that work hard and the hair that is messy from play.

The legs that walk with purpose and the neck that holds a wise head.

The back and the arms that carry children.

A woman who fears the Lord and a heart that is loving.

Beauty is you and  beauty is me.

Beauty is love and beauty is God.

In The Clear Glass

I cannot tell of the hours I have spent nor express the sadness I have felt over this one thing, small in some eyes but large in others, ever-changing throughout the ages but always present in each era, a trait with the power to dismiss and accept, love and hate, do good and evil. This subjective thing that I long for and worry about is being beautiful.

It’s never been enough for me and I doubt it ever will be, to leave the house with just a smile and not worry about the rest of me. There is always something more that I must do: a stroke of brush against my hair, a bracelet that I must add, a belt that I should wear, a paint of blush that I must put across my cheek. And even when I have these things, it’s never good enough.

I cry and I die a thousand deaths for the sake of just one thing. I try and I buy a million things for this look that I hope to achieve. But I’m always wanting, always looking, always trying for more. I am never satisfied. I am never happy. I want a thing that I’ve never seen. I want it so much but I never get it. And the more I try and the more that I cry, I wonder what do I want?

Is it whitened teeth and full, pink lips?

A tall figure with the finest build?

A perfect complexion and splendid cheekbones?

Hair that is smooth and beautiful?

Clothes that flatter my figure and make my eyes stand out?

What is it that I want?

What is it that I desire?

What is it that I try to achieve?

With my make up and clothes and efforts and tears…

I want all of this and more.

But I can never have it.

I cannot be beautiful.

The thought is depressing and for a while I believe it. The urge to change presses on against my heart, the lies that I am ugly crush my being and make me want to hide. The glass is foggy, it isn’t clear because Satan has become my mirror and tells me that what I see is fat, imperfect, and not beautiful.

And then, out of nowhere it seems, a voice from Heaven calls my name. He erases the lies, and wipes away the tears. He kicks Satan out, wipes the blurriness that the devil made and becomes the mirror. The glass is clear now and He tells me that I am all of the things that the blurry one told me that I was not: that I am beautiful just the way I am because this Clear Glass that is talking to me is beautiful and He created me and He can only make beauty.

And now I know what I want, what the beauty that I desire looks like. It is God, the one who created me. I want Him to rule my life more and more, to cleanse my heart and clear my smile and make me more beautiful. It is the Clear Glass that I desire and that I must look through to find my true self and my real beauty.

Note: This post has been on my mind for a long time and comes from a place deep within my heart. It was difficult for me to get up the courage to write this and share some of my insecurities with you but I felt God telling me that it was time that I wrote this and shared what He has been teaching me in this area.