“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is. His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
You may have heard it said that one of the differences between a man and a woman is that when a man looks at himself in the mirror he admires the one physical feature about himself that’s attractive while a woman only sees the features she considers unattractive. Whether this is true or not can’t be verified but for women especially our eyes always see the imperfections. The statistics are alarming when we see that in an average year American woman spend a half billion dollars on shape-enhancing garments. Women from every culture are turning to extreme measures to change or enhance their physical features with the top five being liposuction, breast augmentation, eyelid surgery, facelift and tummy tuck – and there seems to be no end in sight.
This obsession dates several hundreds of years back where women would use a potentially deadly combination of vinegar in search of porcelain skin, drops of antimony sulfide to make their eyes glitter (leading to blindness) and tight lace corsets (cutting off oxygen and displacing organs) in order to achieve an eighteen inch waist. Today, the media glamorizes ‘true beauty’ by promoting to women that perfect shape, weight, height, hair and skin will lead to true happiness – you know the false promises that the prettiest women get the best jobs, the most attractive men and are the most successful. My good friend and LIFE leading lady Terri Brady posted a blog titled, ‘The Stranger’s Sketch’ which I believe is a perfect example of how critical we are of our ourselves compared to how others really see us.
In an earlier post I shared my journey of battling an eating disorder – which unfortunately (today) is another very common and unhealthy method of ‘trying’ to reach physical perfection. When I taught in a high school it seemed that the girls cared more about how they looked than their dignity, their character or their work ethic. Since chopping my hair off (and losing some of it) I can’t count how many times I have been mistaken for a guy. The battle is never ending if our eyes are fixed on our outward appearance. I’m sure every one of us remembers a time when we compared, judged or idolized someone else with what seemed to be ‘better’ physical beauty than us. It’s hard to escape the sinful nature of our hearts; focusing on outward appearance rather than inward beauty and acting on cultural standards rather than biblical standards.
But here is a woman who I believe displays the best ‘true beauty’ of anyone. Her story has gone viral but not so much for being labeled ‘the ugliest woman on the internet,’ but because she has inspired millions of people to focus on their inner beauty and not their outward appearance (worth watching in its entirety):
So what is God’s definition of beauty? Nowhere in the bible are women instructed to wish for, ask for or strive for physical beauty. However, there is a kind of beauty that we are to pursue, see 1 Peter 3:4-5. In the LIFE AGO book, Becoming God’s True Woman, DeMoss shares stark comparisons between our culture’s definition of beauty and God’s definition of beauty:
- Our culture puts forth a standard of beauty that is unattainable by most. God puts forth a standard of beauty to which we can all attain if we just respond to His work of grace in our lives.
- Our culture defines beauty by how we look on the outside. God defines beauty by what we are like on the inside.
- Our culture encourages women to cultivate a beauty that is skin deep. God tells us to pursue an inner beauty of great worth.
- Our culture encourages women to cultivate a beauty that will only last for a brief time. God encourages women to cultivate a beauty that will never fade and that will only grow more attractive with the passing of time.
- Our culture calls us to cultivate a beauty that impresses others. God summons us to cultivate a beauty that is first and foremost for His eyes.
- Our culture entices us to aspire to the beauty of the latest glamourous model or most popular actress. God bids us to aspire to the beauty of the holy women in the past who put their hope in God.
DeMoss goes on to say, “when a physically attractive woman walks by we notice – men particularly. But that’s the end of it. Her beauty makes a fleeting, momentary impression. But a woman who cultivates inner beauty, who fears God and lives to serve others, makes a difference in people’s lives. Her beauty makes a lasting impact on the lives she touches. Godly, inner beauty makes an indeliable mark on the lives of others and glorifies God.”
It is true that a woman’s physical appearance is enhanced by her inner beauty. But this does not mean that we neglect our outward appearance just because we are beautiful on the inside. Pure devotion to God will produce an appropriate concern for physical appearance and in turn our outward appearance should always attract others to our inner beauty and our character.
Laurie Woodward, Jill Guzzardo and all of the LIFE leading ladies are true models of inner beauty. They are all beautiful on the outside but their true beauty radiates from the inside. Robert Murray McCheyne said it best, “we should take 10 looks at Christ for every look at ourselves” and I believe these amazing women do that. Every time we are tempted to be discouraged by our own lack of perfection, we must look to our Savior, whose perfection has been credited to us. We are all made perfect in His image and to set our hearts and minds on the things above will allow us to accept that our inner beauty is where true beauty rests.