It's almost impossible to pin-point the exact moment in our childhood when we view "beauty" as something that needs to be pursued and achieved despite the cost, pain or extravagance. All of us to varying degrees have felt society's pull in this way whether we have met the expectation, or accepted to live sub-par against these pressures, usually in bitter defeat. But, no matter what the resignation may be or how many "hocus-pocus" potion- lotions we use to cover our flaws....there's a lie that lurks all around us constantly trying to get in.
I'm not going to deceive you, this has been an exceptionally hard week for me. Feeling, and dealing with the realities of what I'm being asked to accept is my own form of torture right now. There have been many a day I have acted childish and thrown my own kind of tantrums toward God hoping for some kind of release, or maybe my own rebellion to win out, but to no avail. The overwhelming pull of every media talking about cleanses, detox programs, new diets, pills, workouts and strategies have made me feel depressed and even sub-human at times. I know I sound pretty melodramatic right now, but every inch of me feels like I am fighting to remain obedient, and all I can really say is, it sucks. (Yes, that is the nicest way I can put it).
Despite all of that, I did feel like God spoke something to me during the last week in regards to beauty. As I mentioned above beauty has always been something I've tried measure myself by, along with my weight. Always feeling I lived in the shadows of my gorgeous friends (ahem...you know who you are), mother, and of course media figures, it was very difficult to feel I could "match" them so I would settle for "my best", which I had no doubt was sub-par. Of course, when you grow up with a self esteem like this, any sort of verbal approval seemed the highest reward, even though it would fall flat and empty just moments after. The hunger for more compliments and affirmations would only increase and try to outrun the fear and pain of feeling what I knew was the truth- that I was only second best. This week, God gave me a bit of an attention slap.
I was at the massage-therapist for a recent minor car accident and we were chatting away while she worked on me. It was the second or third time I had visited and our conversation quickly became deep as we both shared a love for Christ and our church communities. I was gabbing away about something (who knows what really), when she placed her hand on my shoulder and interrupted me sweetly. I was expecting her to ask me a muscle related question, but instead she said, "I just have to tell you something, you have a very beautiful soul, and I love so look forward to your appointments with me". I was kinda dumbfounded, and sheepishly laughed and mumbled some thanks and then quickly kept talking about whatever it was I was saying prior to this comment. However, when I got in the car God brought it to my mind again. That was honestly the first time anyone had ever made a compliment on my SOUL...and God wanted me to understand the depth and value.
I realized the reason I was so awkward was because I was so exposed. Laying on a table half naked (or really quite more than half ), no makeup, no fashionable clothing or jewelry, hair a complete rats nest...and yet I was getting a compliment? It felt very undeserving, and I was embarrassed to say the least due to my lack of "trying" that day to be presentable. But the soul is not in need of makeup, accessories or covering. The soul is the absolute exposure of our truest self, the self that matters most. I thought about her words for days and God kept bringing them to my mind and realized that all the times I have worked so hard to look the part, and all the compliments I have received over the years when I "tried" to be beautiful paled in comparison to what GOD SEES BEAUTY IN.
Though I have whined and complained this week a lot...this was a big fat lesson for me to think about. I remember as a young girl being told that it's the "beauty on the inside that counts", and here I am again learning it at 30. I want the Lord to look at me and call me beautiful more than any person on this earth. For what is beauty if my soul is rotting away? And therein lies the answers of the "why" I am on this journey, God wants to keep dealing with my heart. I can lose weight and put makeup on all the livelong day, but without the hope, truth, grace, peace, love, kindness, patience, gentleness, and self-control filling my soul...I will always be pursuing beauty that's only skin deep.
1 SAMUEL 16:7
"For the Lord sees NOT as Man sees: for Man looks at the outward appearance and the Lord looks at the heart."
Amen to that.