Have you ever considered the expression, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”?
Who finds you “beautiful?
Who is “beholding” you?
I have long thought the pressure placed on young women in the entertainment industry to look a certain way, to be constantly judged, has to be part of the reason why so many self-destruct. Who can handle that constant barrage of criticism? And how can we expect adolescents who are in the middle of developing their self-identity to do so in a healthy way? We ALL go through awkward stages of growth. That passes, but the messages we identify with about who we are can stay a LONG time.
Yet, here we are with all of our social media apps, filters, swipes, and likes. The strangest things can go viral, being seen by millions. And with all those views – inevitably – critical, judgmental, hateful comments are posted by those who don’t care, and honestly, whose opinions really don’t matter.
Haters are gonna hate.
Oh, but friend, there’s Someone who beholds you who calls you beloved.
Read on . . . .
Confident with Strength and Beauty
The objective here is to understand the difference between what the world says is beautiful, and what is beautiful to God. It is summed up in the lesson title. We take our confidence in the knowledge of our value to God, His plans for us. It’s ok to care about how we look, but our evaluation of beauty uses a completely different standard than the world’s standard. We clothe ourselves with dignity and beauty befitting a princess, a daughter of God, not spoiled, but using modesty and an internalized confidence.
- Proverbs 31: 17, 21 – 22, 24 – 25, 28-31 (NIV)
17 She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. 22 She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. 25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. 31 Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
- What does a beautiful woman look like?
- Do you agree with the phrase, “Pretty is as pretty does?”
- How often do you compare yourself to someone else and concentrate on your physical “imperfections?” (Or someone else’s)
- Does it even matter if someone is beautiful, or feels beautiful?
- Is it ‘Confidence creates beauty’, or ‘Beauty creates confidence’?
I think most of us recognize the importance placed on physical beauty. But I also believe there is spiritual beauty. Some may have one without the other. Is this something God cares about? How does this matter to our being daughters and disciples? Let’s look at a few verses that mention beauty, glory, and confidence.
- Zechariah 9:16 – 17 (HCSB) “The Lord their God will save them on that day as the flock of His people; for they are like jewels in a crown, sparkling over His land. How lovely and beautiful they will be? Grain will make the young men flourish, and new wine, the young women.”
- Revelation 19: 7 – 8 (HCSB) “ ‘Let us be glad, rejoice, and give Him glory, because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has prepared herself. She was permitted to wear fine linen, bright and pure.’ For the fine linen represents the righteous acts of the saints.” (Note: This is a reference to the bride of Christ, the church.)
- Psalm 112 (HCSB) Hallelujah! Happy is the man who fears the Lord, taking great delight in His commands. His descendants will be powerful in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever. Light shines in the darkness for the upright. He is gracious, compassionate, and righteous. Good will come to a man who lends generously and conducts his business fairly. He will never be shaken. The righteous man will be remembered forever. He will not fear bad news; his heart is confident, trusting in the Lord. His heart is assured; he will not fear. In the end he will look in triumph on his foes. He distributes freely to the poor; his righteousness endures forever. His horn will be exalted in honor. The wicked man will see it and be angry; he will gnash his teeth in despair. The desire of the wicked man will come to nothing. Don’t get caught up in the male pronouns here. Read it with your name substituted where appropriate.
Questions to Consider
- How does what we wear contribute to our appearance of beauty?
- If even God recognizes that fine clothes and jewelry are significant items to show beauty and honor, then is it considered vanity to care about them?
- Does being confident in the love of Christ for us really cause us to be beautiful?
- Where does that confidence and strength come from?
Why It Matters
When a woman is truly loved and she knows it, she carries herself with a confidence that speaks louder than her physical features or her clothes. There is nothing wrong with the desire to be seen as lovely. However, thinking that our outward loveliness is in direct correlation to our worth proves to undermine the very value God has for us. There is something wrong when we accept a definition of beauty that contradicts what is true and destroys the confidence that we can have in God’s love. Again, we fall into a trap of listening to the lies that the world tells us, trying to compete in a system that leaves us frustrated and inevitably on the losing end. God’s righteousness, that which we have received through the blood of Jesus Christ, is what makes us beautiful and worthy to be clothed in fine linen and jewels. Collectively, we are the bride of Christ as members of the church. When we trust God, we have nothing to fear for nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.
In Stasi Eldredge’s, Your Captivating Heart, she discusses a woman’s beauty. Beginning on page 39, she writes, “God gave Eve a beautiful form and a beautiful spirit. She expresses beauty in both. Better, she expresses beauty simply in who she is. Like God, beauty is her essence.” She compares how it feels to be caught in loud, smelly city traffic and to be in a quiet, beautiful place like a garden. “Amid beauty, there is room for your soul.” She describes how beauty brings in peace. “That is what beauty says: All will be well.”
When life gets chaotic, uncertain, and mean, we have the Prince of Peace in our hearts. We know God loves us. We are confident that He is trustworthy. Bad things are going to happen, but we are not lost. Hard things will come our way. It is especially at these times that we can call on our Heavenly Father to provide us with a way, with hope, and to help us through them. This peace and assurance is beautiful. We can stand up straight and face the day with strength.
I came to this section thinking mostly of the strength and confidence part. I am not considered traditionally, physically beautiful. There are days I don’t feel too unattractive, and other days I would rather not be seen. By God’s design, I found someone who finds me beautiful and appreciates me for who I am. God has shown me over the years, that a beautiful woman is one who trusts Him. The strength of His love for me gives me the confidence I need to face all of life’s uncertainties. He causes me to be able to handle the trials of the unknown with grace. Anytime anxiety comes over me, even if it takes me a while to recognize it, I know I can go to Him to find peace. This joy, this level of confidence, this certainty that He hears me, knows me, loves me, and wants to spend time with me helps me find the grace I need. By His grace, I am made righteous, meaning one day, I will be adorned in fine linen as a member of the church. The knowledge and belief that His love – for me – endures forever gives me peace, confidence, strength and beauty.
I didn’t always have that assurance. At least I didn’t recognize it. (The world’s standard is in direct opposition to the firm foundation we find in Jesus Christ.) Our appearance is one of the frontlines for this battle. He patiently helped me work through the lies that kept me from being able to receive His love. Sometimes, I still get lost in the turmoil of relationships and life. There is so much more to learn. I look forward to the day when I will be able to fully comprehend His love for me without sin and the confusion of this world getting in the way. I long for you to have the unshakeable knowledge of God’s love for you, too.
The Big Question
- Can you see how being confident in God’s love for you brings you grace and honor?
- Does it make you feel beautiful?
- Knowing you are a beloved Daughter of God, does that change the perception you have of yourself when you look in the mirror?
- What can you do to make yourself more available to hearing and recognizing God’s love for you? Watch for it, He’s reaching out to you every day. Listen. He’s singing a song over you.
Dig A Little Deeper (HCSB)
- Proverbs 11:16 A gracious woman gains honor, but violent men gain only riches.
- 2 Samuel 1:24 – Daughters of Israel, weep for Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, with luxurious things, who decked your garments with gold ornaments.
- Zechariah 9:16 – 17 The Lord their God will save them on that day as the flock of His people; for they are like jewels in a crown, sparkling over His land. How lovely and beautiful they will be? Grain will make the young men flourish, and new wine, the young women.
- Revelation 19: 7 – 8 Let us be glad, rejoice, and give Him glory, because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has prepared herself. She was permitted to wear fine linen, bright and pure.
- Matthew 6: 28 – 34 “And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you – you of little faith? So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But see first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
- Ephesians 6: 13-17 This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waits, righteousness like armor on your chest, and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word.
- Zephaniah 3:17 Yahweh your God is among you, a warrior who saves. He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will bring you quietness with His love. He will delight in you with shouts of joy.”
- Philippians 1:6 I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Your Captivating Heart, Pages 37 – 43, Stasi Eldredge
Here I am, several years older and a little bit wiser from when I first wrote this post. Many things have changed, and I am experiencing the truth in the fading of youthful beauty. I’m okay with that. It doesn’t mean I’m not coloring my hair or using certain moisturizers designed to slow down the forming of wrinkles. I’m going to make the most of the resources at my disposal. But, I’m also learning how to place my trust in God daily, and I find my confidence is increasing even when, and especially when, things seem to be out of control.
Earlier, I wrote a blog post, What is Beautiful? I think that message corresponds well with this one. It speaks more of how God works through our brokenness.
Who is beholding you?
Whose beloved are you?