I don’t think it’s a secret that there is a lot of pressure on women to be “beautiful”. Our world places a very high expectation on women to reach and maintain a level of beauty that fits the current definition of the word. And the ages of young women…girls, really…who are struggling with how they view themselves, how much food they put in their mouths, and what reaction they get from people surrounding their projected beauty is getting younger and younger.
I’ll admit…I’ve had my own struggle over the years to reconcile what I see in the mirror and how that makes me feel about myself. I’ve had to fight my own inner dialogue as my body has changed and fluctuated between having and nursing four babies. I’ve compared myself to other women, and even to my own younger self. I’ve had days when I felt in control of my thoughts and could confidently believe in who I am as a woman, finding my beauty from within. And then there are those other days when…well, I’m sure you’ve had them, too.
But instead of just giving up on beauty, I think it’s time to redefine what beauty is. My desire really is to be a beautiful godly woman, but to be honest, that is kind of a tricky thing to figure out. I know that the Bible teaches me that my outward appearance should not be the focus when it comes to my beauty (1 Peter 3:3-4), and that true beauty comes from a “gentle and quiet spirit”…but what does that mean? Do I not wear makeup? Am I supposed to be silent? Should I not be out going? If I want to be what God would want me to be, do I have to forsake my creative, emotional side to fit some picture of a subdued woman who lacks personality? (I know, some extreme thinking on my part, but those are truly the questions I have asked).
What I have found has brought amazing freedom to my heart…so I started looking into that verse in 1Peter 3 and learned some very eye-opening things. First of all, it doesn’t say that we should ignore our outer appearance completely. It just says it shouldn’t be the only thing that defines our beauty. It’s just a small part of the puzzle. Whew! No throwing away the cute new shoes my mother-in-law bought me!
Then I found that the original Hebrew word used when it says that true beauty comes from a “gentle” heart can actually be translated into the word “meek”. Now, at first glance, that could be a bit off-putting because as Americans the word “meek” connotes weakness. But the original meaning of that word is actually so far away from “weakness”. It actually means “power under control”. It was a word used to describe a strong, wild horse which had been trained and could now be used to do something helpful for it’s master…when I think of a wild horse I think beauty, strength, passion. A broken horse is no less beautiful or strong, it has just learned to harness it’s power and listen to it’s master so it can do things that benefit others. That’s beauty?! I want to be that. I want to have that.
God has made us powerful women with ideas and gifts and passions. We don’t have to let the world tell us what beauty is, and we don’t have to hide who we truly are. We just need to allow God’s Spirit to break the self-centeredness that turns our thoughts to what we look like or what other people think about us so that we can be broken before Him. When we are broken in Him, the power He has put in us can be used to it’s fullest potential…and this is what makes us beautiful.
All you beautiful women out there…embrace the power of your God-given beauty.