Sunday, 9 March 2014

Am I Beautiful?

    It’s the question that’s on the heart of every woman, young and old, and the answer is universally, consistently and whole-heartedly YES! But I could tell you you’re ravishing, breath-taking, stunning, and I know most of you wouldn’t believe me. I know that because I wouldn’t believe me. I don’t expect you to believe me – I’m a stranger with no authority of my own. But what about when I tell you you’re all of those things with the authority of Christ? Do you hear the words then? Instead of what the world says about beauty, or even what I say, let’s look at what GOD says about it…

    Pick apart the word beautiful and you get beauty-full. Full of beauty. If something is full, its contents are contained INSIDE. We spend so long correcting our outer beauty that we forget to embrace our inner beauty. For a long time I hated that idea. I thought that focusing on my ‘inner beauty’ was another way of saying I needed to accept that outside I wasn’t beautiful, and make the most of what I had. But recently I’ve come to understand the concept of inner beauty in a whole new way! We are beautiful on the outside because we’re beautiful on the inside. That inner beauty actually transforms our appearance – be it through a smile, a twinkle in the eye or a heart-felt hug.

    Consider the celebrities who are hailed for their appearance but can’t quite master a natural, spontaneous-looking smile and so opt instead for a forced pout. Now consider the female worship leader at church, your best friend who knows nothing about make-up but knows exactly how to cheer you up, your middle-aged mum who tells you she’s past her peak but is still so full of love for life that it can’t help but be infectious. Tell me – which of these women are more beautiful? The women we love don’t all fit the world’s perfect stereotype of beauty, and yet they are more beautiful to us than we can describe. These women aren’t size 0, golden-brown, flawless-skinned models, they don’t fit a stereotype. Beauty doesn’t have a simple, solitary definition. It is simply to be human – in whatever form that takes! Beauty is being YOU, as Johnny Diaz wrote in his song ‘More Beautiful You’:

“There could never be a more beautiful you
Don’t buy the lies disguises and hoops they make you jump through
You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do
So there could never be a more beautiful you.”

    Someone recently pointed out to me that Jesus only used the word beautiful once in the whole of the gospels: to describe the woman at Bethany’s act of pouring precious perfume over Jesus’ head. ‘She has done a beautiful thing to me’ (Matthew 26:10; Mark 14:6). The reason this reference is so important is this… The perfume was contained in an alabaster jar, which she broke in order to let the liquid flow out. When she shattered the decorative exterior, the infinitely more valuable interior was revealed, and THIS is what Jesus calls beautiful!

    This message of the alabaster jar above was delivered at a talk for women. A talk in which several people were in tears from the emotional revelation of their real beauty and all of us celebrated the truth of our value in Christ. Yet within an hour of the talk ending, as we washed up after lunch, the conversation turned into ‘That omelette was delicious but I know it was naughty. I could practically feel the calories!” I saw so clearly just how internalised the instinct of self-criticism and guilt had become for these women, and it saddened me. 

    God doesn’t care how many calories were in that meal. He cares that you enjoyed the food He provided for you. He delights in our joy, and longs for His gifts to bring that joy. Joy is a form of godliness, and godliness within shines out for all to see. A godliness which doesn’t wither on the days when your acne is at its worst or PMT and bloating make you feel like hiding under a paper bag. 

    In Kay’s guest post she wrote that she’d heard it shows in your eyes. I hope it shows in mine! I hope it shows in mine not because then I’d have achieved a status of beauty, but because just maybe then the women around me might start to believe the truth about themselves too. Just as we have the power to infect each other with lies about our womanhood, we also have the power to infect each other with the truth.

“As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson
 If you take nothing else from this post, know this:

You are treasured, you are sacred, you are His… and you’re

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