Friday, March 25, 2011

For His Glory Alone: True Beauty Conversations

My friend Melissa and I are continuing our conversation about Beauty this morning. We've been talking about True Beauty through a series of letters on Fridays: What is Beauty? What will we tell our daughters about Beauty? We're so glad you're joining us. We would love to hear from you!________________________________________________

Dearest Julia,

Let me be honest; your last letter provoked an initial reaction from me that was extremely negative. I sat down and tried to justify why I did not want to hear your message. I even made a list of excuses:

  • One bottle of fancy wrinkle cream + one tube of mascara + one box of permanent hair dye = enough money to feed, clothe, and give a Compassion Child the gift of hearing the gospel for a whole month!
  • I'm a bit of a hippie outdoorsy type who, somewhat, shuns beauty products. I wash my hair with baking soda and vinegar. I moisturize and protect my body from sunburn with coconut oil. I've never had a pedicure or manicure in my life.
  • I want my daughters to be little girls for as long as possible. I want them to be smearing lipstick around their whole mouth while prancing around in dress up clothes and mommy's heels at eight, or even 10 years of age!
  • I want them turning cartwheels and climbing trees in their "princess dresses" while hosting a tea party with friends. 
  • I want to talk to them more about the beauty of a heart filled with the Fruits of the Spirit than about how to shave their legs, or what styles flatter their shape.
But the truth is, the reason I reacted so violently toward your post is because, I'm so sinfully prideful that I should weep in repentance.

Because, if I'm truly honest, I reacted the way I did because of my own scars:
  • The laughter of my sister and her friend as she mocked my "Bert and Ernie" eyebrows. I love my sister dearly and have forgiven her, but the mere mention of my eyebrows needing maintenance still incites me to tears or frustrated anger.
  • Compliments only when I dress a certain way, blow dry my hair, and put on make-up: luxuries I rarely have time to complete. Not to mention that 80% of my clothing either has spit-up stains or little girl hand smudges. What about every other day? Am I only pretty when I invest a precious 45 minutes in primping?  
  • All my girlfriends abandoning me and my imaginary play by the time I was 10. There was no one to play Laura Ingalls in the woods, or organize a synchronized swimming routine, or cook decorated mud pies with. No, all my friends wanted to do was talk about boys, make-up, fashion, and do each others' hair or nails.
Learn from Seventeen Magazine the disciplines required to be beautiful. The ways to dress. The ways to attract boys. The things that I could never do well enough to have one. single. success.

Yes, these scars played hard into my reaction to your thoughts.

But you spoke truth. If I don't teach my daughters how to care from their bodies, who will? Seventeen Magazine? Well meaning friends? Hormone driven boys? Health class?

I would do well to heed your words. 

I would do well to teach my daughters how to care for their bodies, the very temples of the Holy Spirit.

Yet, there may still be a warning hidden in my own negative reaction to your words:

Even if I teach my girls to wear what flatters them,
Even if I'm the one who shows them how to shave their legs, apply make-up, style their hair,
Even if I teach them how to how to swim laps to keep their bodies strong,

if I miss teaching their hearts to wear beauty for His Glory alone,

then I have failed. 

Life isn't about presenting ourselves perfectly beautiful. Life is about finding our true value, our True Beauty, in the sacrifice of Christ. His love by dying on the cross is what shows us that we are beautiful. He alone gives us that worth. No amount of applying make-up or dressing well, can ever do anything more to make us beautiful than what he has already done. It's all grace.


Cyndi said...

I love your true beauty fridays! Thank you!

Twinside Out said...

I think I must have had my head in a hole last Friday, so I just jumped over to read last week's letter before I finished this one. Both raise great food for thought. I certainly don't want my daughter to be obsessed with physical beauty, but I do want her to learn to appreciate (and take care of) the body that God has given her. Sometimes it seems like a fine line to walk.

Jessica said...

I read this Friday's letter this morning and wanted to share that it has been at the forefront of my thoughts since.

I definitely don't want to teach my daughter vanity, but I do believe we are to care for what God gives us (self, home, spouse children, etc.). Twinside Out puts it well. It is a fine line to walk.

But more importantly, I want to be the one to teach my daughter, not someone or something else, what true beauty means.

Thank you both so much for letting us travel this road with you!