Sunday, August 16, 2009

Beauty From the Inside Out

"Would you rather be pasty white and thin, or chunky and tan?" Was the question proposed. Um, what if you are neither combination but rather a mix of the two less desirable? Pasty white and chunky. That's me. So does that mean I'm not beautiful? Guess it depends on who is doing the judging.

I'm speaking tomorrow night for the MUMS ministry and finding myself confused over wording and decided to type it out here. I'm a much better writer than speaker. They should have wrote on the flier, "Suzanne is speaking, come at your own risk." But oh no, there is a nice little resume sorts of my past events. Oh the pressure is on. This is the 1st meeting of the year. I pray that I set a fun tone for the meetings for the rest of the year rather than me being the only one there from now on.

I also pray that beyond my own fears of making a fool or nuisance out of myself that I'll keep the goal in mind before me and that the women that come will leave changed in knowing that they are not just some planned or accidental byproduct of the parents DNA, but that God formed, designed, created them individually with all their strengths and weakness alike.

So who is it we are trying to impress with our beauty? Are we trying to land that modeling job? Magazine ad? Win a man's heart? Or please our Lord?

I'm telling you right now that I do not foresee me landing a modeling job or an advertisement unless it's for representing women on the verge of insanity. Even then I would hate to put my picture out into the hands of millions to critic my every flaw, including the ones I'm not even yet been made aware of.

What if we are trying to win a man's heart? Do we want to be loved for physical attributes that may never be the same over childbirth? From the time I met my husband he was very complimentary on my looks, which made it hard to not worry that I had disappointed him when the face and body of the 20 year he fell in love took on the face of a tired mom and the body of "heavy girl" as my OB nurse so graciously pointed out.

What if we are trying to please the Lord? From everything in the scripture anytime the Lord has spoken of outward beauty He has coupled it with instruction for inward beauty. God is focused on what is inside, man is concerned with what is outside.

So how can we please the Lord with our inside beauty? By filling ourselves with Him so he can fill us in return with the fruits of the spirit. By studying His word so we have wisdom, understanding, discretion and behavior that is honoring to Him. By being set apart and shining brightly in this dark world.

2 Corinthians 4:16 tells us "Therefore, do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day."

I challenge you as your lives are busy with school, children, meals, housework that you make the effort to find time with God daily, whether that be 10 minutes or a power hour. Become new woman who is clothed with mercy, meekness, humbleness, gentleness and a quiet spirit. It is really hard to pour grace and love into other's lives if we are empty ourselves. Remember that the beautiful woman wears Christ above all else.

In the story of Esther we see a young woman that is beautiful on the inside and out by God's and the world's standards. It reminds me of the cleaner version of Pretty Woman. An outcast young girl, just shows up out of nowhere, wins the heart of the King, triumphs over the enemy, is loved by all and lives happily ever after in the palace. Esther showed us wisdom and patience in a terrible situation, all the while dealing with a difficult husband. Maybe that's why I like Esther, we have at least something in common. :)

So what about the outside? We are woman, this is a concern of ours. Is it wrong to beautify ourselves? Is it wrong to want to be pretty?

I do not believe that is what the scriptures tell us. The 1st verse of opposition I'll rope right out of the gate is 1 Peter 3:3-4 "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment such as braided hair, wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." On many occasions as I've been studying I found myself confused as to why something so seemingly innocent could be wrong. Much as with this verse. It is not saying that braided hair is wrong, or that jewelry or nice clothes are wrong. During the time of this statement women wore their wealth. They dressed excessively to show everyone they were of value. They wanted to stand out and be set apart as more important. This verse was stating the heart issues were wrong. It was wrong to think they were beautiful because of their outward attention. It was wrong to that they were being prideful. Proverbs 27:19 "As water reflects a man's face, so a man's heart reflects the man."

What about the women of all women, THE Proverbs 31 woman? vs 22 tells us "She was dressed in fine linen and purple." This statement didn't show any condemnation over the fact that she dressed nicely and purple was the most expensive of garments at that time. Then in verse 30 the scripture states, "Charm is deceptive and beauty if fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."

Esther spent a year of her life at the palace spa. Can you imagine?! Esther 2:12, "For the days of their beautification were completed as follows; six months with oil and myrrh and six months with spices and cosmetics." I could go for that!

God is the master artist of beauty. I believe He appreciates and loves beauty more than anyone. He could have made only a few of each tree, flower, insect,...women. But just as each sunrise and sunset is filled with amazing detail and so are we. God is the creator of feminine beauty. Most times in the scriptures, only when someone had established themselves in spiritual truth in relation to God does its beauty become meaningful. Something is beautiful because it is pure and not praised because it is beautiful.

But it is all in how and why we use our beauty that can make it a blessing or a sin. If we are using our beauty to entice someone or manipulate, than we have crossed the line. 1 Corinthians 10:32, "Do not cause anyone to stumble, for I am not seeking my own good but the good of many so that they may be saved." And 1 Tim 2:9-10 "I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety." There is a place for dressing provocatively and that place is behind closed doors.

As in any area of our life, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. 1 Corinthians 10:31 "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." Do you spend as much time in the Word as you do on your appearance each day?

In my LBK (Life before kids) one of my most rewarding careers, was working with women. I had acquired my certification in wardrobe, beauty and makeup consultation. I have since sold makeup for 3 different companies, just because I honestly thrived on helping women see themselves as beautiful. But I'm not a good sales person and did not like having to keep up my quotas when all I really wanted was to change these ladies lives. I used to shop just for the fun of it and teach other ladies how to also.

In my LAK (Life after kids) I am just pleased to get a shower daily and have a bra on before someone drops by unexpectedly. Now my clothes shopping is often completed at the same time as the grocery shopping.

I don't know if you remember the show The Swan. But they took woman who viewed themselves as sadly disgusting, even they they weren't, and spent thousands of dollars many surgery and procedures to change their looks which in turn was going to change their lives. And yes the instant and amazing change on the outside will boost their confidence and allow for changes in their lives that may never have happened otherwise. However, what happens when this new beauty fades? When they gain some weight? When the wrinkles appear? Does the onset of depression set it again? When what we chase is temporal, it will never be enough.

Psalms 139:14 expresses a thought that we women often forget, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Do we know that in our hearts of hearts? Do we honestly believe that God made us wonderfully? Ephesians tells us, "For we are God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." We don't critique some one's workmanship that they are proud of, yet how often do we critique God's workmanship on making us?

Jot down 5 things you like about yourself. Now jot down 5 things you don't like about yourself. Which list was easier to make? Do you ever wish you were like someone else? Funnier, more outgoing? More organized? A better house keeper? Do you ever wish you looked like someone else? Wish you were shorter? Taller? Not so slim? Not so heavy?

1 Tim 6:6 tells us that, "godliness with contentment is great gain." When we make peace with how God designed us, we can look beautiful on the outside because we are happy on the inside.

During the years that I worked with women, I had my thought process much like The Swam producers. I thought if I could change the outside the inside would follow. But I had it all backwards, when we change the inside first, it shines through to change what the other person sees on the outside.

My other case for outward beauty is for our husbands.

Esther 5:1-"On the 3rd day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king's hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance. When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her." Esther operated within God's will in the situations and used every gift God had given her...even her outward beauty. She chose to dress up for her husband and honor him as her King even if she was not finding a love for him. Our husbands are the king of our homes. So a harder question for many of us moms is: Do you spend as much time on your appearance when expecting company as you do for your husband? God is concerned with inward beauty, but God made man, and man is visual and man is concerned with outward beauty. And just in case anyone forgot, our husbands are men. We can't all be Cindy Crawfords, but we can try to be pleasing to our husbands. And the only way to know what is physically appealing to your husband is to ask your husband. Not the consult the main stream media.

I have to admit that at this point in my life getting gussied sometime feels like wasted time when I do not keep in mind the why of what I'm doing. But I also know that my husband sees dozens of women daily, most looking all dressed up, putting their best foot forward, hiding any personality flaws behind a great hair do and a sweet smelling perfume. Proverbs 23:28 warns us, "like a bandit she lies in wait and multiplies the unfaithful among men." The time to impress and fight for our husbands is before we have to because there is always someone else out there who will. Many men have fallen not because their wives were terrible but because another woman showed interest.

Do I have a clean shirt on, a fresh spritz of perfume, a clean front room, with the smell of dinner wafting to the front door every day when Allen comes home? No. But I do try to honor him as King in our home according to the priorities that he shared as important to him.

We have all taken tests that tell of our personality traits. Tests that tell of our spiritual gifts. Tests that tell us our best learning styles. All of which are great, but they are blind to our physical appearance. What if we have a terrific personality but are so self consciousness of our physical beauty that we avoid ever living up to our God given potential? You do not have to look like the hunchback of Notre Dame to condemn yourself to hiding because of some flaw you see in yourself. Wondering if God possibly fell asleep just for a split second and had a slight of hand. Kind of like what happened when he made the hammerhead shark or the platypus. We all have something that bothers us about ourselves to some degree, whether it be physical or other. We are going to go one step further today. We are going to take a test based entirely on our physical attributes and see the personalities that it matches us to. For me, once I learned of this I knew without any further doubt that I was a complete package fashioned by my Father. This is the message I want to share with every woman in the world. That you are complete.

I'm not going to get into details beyond just placements to see the body styles and personalities that match, but with a more setting for consultations, this information allows for you to look the complete package. From hairstyle, clothing, fabrics, prints, accessories. Everything we choose can fall in a category that balances our bodies and reflects our inside out.

It is always better to be a first class you than a second class knock off of someone else. Do not forfeit who you are in pursuit of playing a role that was never designed for you.

1 comment:

Shan said...

It was so fun seeing your presentation tonight! You are a natural leader. So calm, so graceful and such a cutie!
Good grief PUBLIC SPEAKING is a huge yikes for me. What a great skill to have!
I think you are right that we all need to keep going over the importance of inner beauty. What a force the entertainment business is when it comes to the opposite.
Now I want to do that ranking test on my husband too. :)


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