Journeys of Faithfulness, ch. 9: The Power of Beauty

journeys[box] Read ch. 9 in Journeys of Faithfulness.[/box] It is no secret that the female species is drawn to beauty. I remember my daughter when she was a little girl. I never had to teach her to like pink and purple, glitter and shimmer, or twirly dresses. Even though she isn't really a girly-girl today, I know she still cannot pass up a pretty flower or a cute sparkly notebook.

In a world where physical beauty is so highly prized, it is easy to overlook the inner beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:3-4). For many young (and older) women, beauty is enhanced or even idolized. It doesn't take much to realize that with beauty comes power: power to attract the attention we crave or the love we long for. So, sadly, instead of utilizing their beauty, many hone it and pursue it to get what they want.

Now to make it clear, I do not believe that putting on makeup or doing your hair or wearing the latest fashions is a sin. The bigger question is why? Is it for my benefit or sense of well-being and worth, to boost my self esteem? Or do I care for myself so that the beauty of God can shine out from me and draw others to Him?

Clearly, God is a lover of beauty too. One only has to look at the vibrant colors of a springtime bloom or the wispy pastel clouds of a summer sunset or the delicate wings of a butterfly perched on a flower to know that He does not skimp on His creation. Even the creation of woman in Genesis 2 reminds us that unlike man who was "formed," the female form was "fashioned" as if it were artwork.

As women, we have a great challenge before us: stewarding our beauty and then using it to bless and create and nurture those around us. And we all know we can use some of that around us in this world where bad news reigns. Whether we realize it or not, we have an incredible power within us to change the tide of our culture, simply by extending that beauty to others.

Lest we think that this is something beyond our reach or only for the super spiritual, think again. While not all of us are going to be Esthers living in palaces, we do have our own domains in which we rule. If you are a young girl, your domain may be the four walls of the bedroom you share with your younger sister. It could be the classroom you enter each day at 7:30 a.m. It could be the cubicle you sit in or the office in which you work or the smiling young faces that look to you for guidance.

For mothers, it means our homes. Ever notice how our home atmosphere often corresponds to our perspective? If I am content with the work of mothering and homemaking, even if it doesn't change the amount of it, the spirit in our home often reflects that. On the other hand, if I am constantly grumbling, it doesn't take long before the atmosphere in my home follows suit.

Whether we are queens of our home castle or any other realm, we need to start with where we are, adding beauty in any way we can--a cheerful word, a helping hand, an act of service. For others, it may be a vase of cut flowers from the garden, a plate of cookies to share, or candles to add light and scent. From there, God can multiply these simple gestures and acts of beauty to infiltrate our culture with His loveliness. This thought from Sarah really put this topic into perspective for me:

“The longer I walk with God, the more I am aware of the joy that fills his soul. I feel his laughter, I remember that the new heavens and earth will begin with a feast (Rev. 19:6-9). And I realize that each meal I serve is a small reflection of His goodness, an offering of beauty to win the hungry hearts of my time.” (emphasis mine)

Did you notice that last phrase? "To win the hungry hearts of my time." This isn't just about beauty for its own sake. It is beauty with a purpose.

As the mother of a young woman, I pray that I will paint that grand vision for my daughter. I have to tell her---and myself---over and over that God has given us the opportunity to make our surroundings beautiful, not merely for beauty's sake, but to bless the hearts of others. For God Himself is beautiful.

Esther knew that. Whenever I think of Esther, I think of a beautiful woman. But what she did with that beauty did more than provide mere eye candy for her husband. She used it on behalf of her people, to reach the heart of her husband, the king, so that it turned the tide of the future.

Now that's real power.

Discussion questions:

How does a woman become beautiful in spirit? What does it take? What is its potential impact?

What is one way God can use you to bring beauty to the world around you? Is there someone in your life today that could use some of God's beauty through you?