A word that haunts every girl of nearly every age. From the time you read or watched your first story about the lovely princess of long ago, that word intruded upon your innocent child-mind never to leave. And you are still innocent. There's nothing wrong with princesses. They usually had wonderful hearts too that loved truth and honor. So, you buy the tiara and the silky dress... the little glass shoes that for some reason look more like plastic than Cinderella's did. You might even sleep with your hair up in rags so the next day you have a head of silky curls. You hum the little ditties that Belle sang. You dream about your prince of someday.
It's all so sweet. But it also will become obvious upon further investigation that, by the time we're entering the years of puberty, beautiful has set up her shop in the female mind and is nowhere near done!
You begin to change from a girl into a woman. All of a sudden, everything is complicated. Your emotions start to run rampant. All the while, beautiful screams to you. But the message has changed... subtly at first... We no longer beg for a new princess dress or spend uncomfortable nights with our hair bound tightly to our heads... we go further. We don't see Snow White whistling while she works, we see scantily dressed, perfectly proportioned, clear-skinned girls on the billboards of every store we enter. We go home and look in the mirror and make a mental list of every flaw. Beauty mocks us.
Girls differ on what they do at this point. Some do the obvious and buy makeup to endeavor to cover their imperfections. Some start working out to lose those offending extra pounds... the pounds sometimes that really have a right to be there. Others sink into themselves, knowing, no matter how hard they try, they will never be good enough. Some agonize over how the models accomplish the combination of womanliness while still being as skinny as a young boy. Some use their money to surgically make their bodies all they want them to be. Others starve themselves to the point of serious illness.
Beauty turns to tragedy.
It is incredible, honestly, how far a girl will go to satisfy the demands of beauty. I remember several times when I was younger that I would go for days without eating (telling my parents I was fasting), all the while hoping it would help me to lose weight. I would never be seen without makeup on. What a predicament I found myself in when summer came along; pool-time with my girl-friends was a struggle when I realized that makeup and water don't mix (and that I was also allergic to waterproof mascara). I never wanted to look less than absolutely, perfectly beautiful. I was still able to have fun... but it was limited by how much I concentrated on my outward appearance.
I remember something that happened to me in my mid-teens that really made me stop and think. I was a Counselor-in-Training at a Christian camp and I was sitting with a table full of 6th grade campers when a couple of the young men who were Counselors-in-Training came over to take a picture of me with my girls. I knew that I had a lot less makeup on than usual and so I rested my chin on my hand, using my fist to somewhat cover the side of my face they would capture. The light flashed, the boys grinned, then one looked at me with a funny expression on his face.
“Why did you put your hand up like that? What are you hiding from?”
It was meant in jest, but it made me mentally grind to a halt.
What was I hiding from? Perhaps Beautiful's taunting voice; any imperfections that would make me seem less than the ideal young woman.
But, more than that, I was hiding from who God had made me.
How far was I willing to go to please Beautiful? I had already shown I was willing to go hungry, hide my face behind makeup, and wear clothing that drew too much attention to the wrong things.
But was I willing to lose myself to Beautiful? Give up who I was? I was a born-again child of God. Was I willing to sacrifice the freedom He’d given me just to appease Beautiful?
I might have been a confused, struggling girl... but I knew the answer to that question without having to think about it.
I wasn't willing to go that far.
And when I realized that... a Voice stronger than Beauty's ever was shouting to me:
“How far are you willing to go for ME?”
What's so amazing about God is that He put those desires to be beautiful in our heart as women. As I've drawn closer to Him, He has shown me that it's alright to want to look nice, presentable, and not hide in a gunny sack! But He's shown me that Beauty's voice can be deceptive. Her name is so innocent... but it's not her full name. Beautiful to Them is her true name; what the world finds attractive. And I have to fight her every day. But I'm not alone. Beautiful to HIM is on my side; my Savior has a different standard of beauty that I must now strive to rise too:
Honesty, Joy, Love.
Kindness, Patience, Honor.
Humility, Self-control, Faithfulness.
Gentleness, Modesty, Purity.
Having just come from an amazing Good Friday and Easter Sunday weekend… I have also been reminded of how far my Savior, Jesus Christ, went so that I could actually receive this beauty of a cleansed soul before God. So, how far am I willing to go when I see how far Christ went for me? His love is the greatest, most beautiful thing in my life… And, honestly, that's a beauty that is worth any cost. That beauty will demand me to count everything else as lost compared to knowing its Giver. Beautiful for Him is what my Beautiful Lord has called me too.
It is a Beauty that I can lose myself in.
So, let me ask you... How far are YOU willing to go to be Beautiful for Him?