The Burden of Beauty

The human eye is innately attracted to objects of beauty. We are drawn in by picturesque mountains, a full moon reflecting on a glassy lake, fields of wildflowers, and crystal clear turquoise ocean waves. Our Creator loves color and paints us incredible sunrises and glorious sunsets that begin and end many of our days. The endless wonder of nature is undeniable, and there is more in this world to enjoy than one set of eyes can contain in a lifetime.

While we are grateful for the creative beauty all around us, our discernment needs to be awakened to the artificial perfection advertisers and Hollywood have been selling for decades. Though standards change from generation to generation, society is pressured to conform to that which is admired. The push for perfection is especially intense for young girls and aging women. The female form has been scrutinized, celebrated, ogled, abused, painted, and written about for centuries. Women are mysterious and perhaps the concentration on their physical attributes helps relieve the frustration of the inability to comprehend their mystery.

Regardless, it’s imperative that godly men and women not buy into the lie. Taking care of oneself and paying attention to one’s appearance is not a bad thing in itself. But the obsession towards perfection, the need to always be beautiful is a burden—one that distracts both men and women from their true identities.

Consider Lucifer. He was obsessed with his beauty. In Ezekiel 28:17, the Lord tells us this about Lucifer:  “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.” How fitting is that same description for so many of those caught in the modern web of physical perfection?

In 2013 alone, the United States spent $11 Billion on face lifts, botox, and breast augmentations! ELEVEN BILLION DOLLARS! Our wisdom has been corrupted for the sake of our splendor. Honestly, I understand. I, too, feel the pressure to remain young and attractive. All of us do our best to hold on to our youth, though we know it will gradually fade. I Peter 1:24 reminds us that “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away.” Our flesh is mortal, and, sadly, time and gravity take their toll. Only our spirit is eternal.

Why then do we not concentrate more effort toward inward beauty? The essence of who we are, our spirit man is eternal. ETERNAL. Think about it; that which makes us who we are will never die. I am reminded of a famous quote by Jim Elliot, the missionary who was killed in an effort to share Christ with a tribe in Ecuador. He said, “He is no fool that gives that which he cannot keep for that which he cannot lose.”

What if we took that wise statement to heart? What if our focus were on the eternal, rather than on that which is passing away? Could it be that our perspective on beauty might change? Perhaps our satisfaction with ourselves and others would come from Him rather than from standards set by ignorant people whose beauty has corrupted their wisdom.

Recently I perused an article that discussed beauty. In it, dozens of men were polled on what they considered to be a beautiful woman. They were given specific choices in multiple choice format regarding hair color, body shape, etc., as well as asked for specific comments. The results were certainly not what most would think they would be. They did not describe the “perfect woman” in the way most advertisements portray her. No, the most consistent response pointed to one desirable attribute: a confident woman that loves herself.

If we are to love ourselves, we must divorce our thinking from the lies of this world. Let us turn our focus from physical perfection to spiritual elevation. The fruit of the Spirit is a great place to start: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Who isn’t attracted to people with these qualities?

A joyful person lights up a room like fireworks in a dark sky. We find precious gems in His presence, and in the commune, He plants these gems within us. Through our relationship with Christ, we are transformed into His image, and nothing in this world is more beautiful than our Savior.

The Bible describes many benefits that our loving Father offers us. In Psalm 103:5, David tells us that God “Satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.” Isaiah 40:30, 31 says, “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” I’m all for beauty creams and treatments, but I’ve yet to find one that gives me strength or eases my weariness. Thank you, God, for your Word, your promises, and your eternal, never-fading, true beauty.


tags: beauty, society, youth, aging, internal beauty

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