Everywhere I look, society is insisting that it knows the true definition of beauty. If I didn’t know Jesus, I might fall for the myths too. Is beauty a woman after a makeover, or one who bares her natural face? Does it finally come when we lose our extra weight, or is it just when we are eating healthy and can fit into our clothes? Is it a perfect sunny day, or a rainstorm? Is it a picture perfect holiday party setting with family and friends, where nothing goes wrong? Is it little kids running through crunchy colorful fall leaves, or is it a wife running to greet her soldier who is coming home, broken from battle? Is beauty all, none, or some of these things?
We don’t all have the opportunity to create, or live in, our ideal surroundings of what we consider beautiful. Real life is messy and time-consuming. There are sick people to care for, ugly emergencies, life that goes on, without allowing you to unpack your stacks and stacks of cardboard of boxes. There’s illness, stress, depression, and life’s demands. Try as we might, we can’t live up to those picture perfect lives from the magazines, where homes stay clean, families are perfectly dressed and styled, toys are non-existent unless strategically placed, gourmet meals are a given, and home improvement projects are effortless. It seems so beautiful, but the magazines aren’t selling real life; they are selling dreams.
Some of us want to walk around outside and enjoy the nature around us, but life gets in the way. We may have an injury, or too much work to do. Perhaps we struggle with depression, which makes it harder to get up and go outside. Some of us would love to create a beautiful moment by lighting a candle, and enjoying a mug of tea with a favorite book. But we can’t seem to get there either. When you have toddlers, your relaxing bubble bath turns into a swimming pool filled with bath toys. That nap you were going to take on your crisp white sheets sprayed with lavender oil, just got spit up on by your newborn baby. Are these things beautiful? Maybe they are!
How can we understand godly beauty? We invite Jesus into our lives, for nothing is truly beautiful without God. God will reveal the beauty around us. God created everything. A rainbow is beautiful, because we don’t see one everyday, and only God can create one. God is also the illustrator of beautiful sunsets and starry skies, which are mentioned in the bible. Beaches, trees, butterflies, animals, and people are beautiful. People’s opinions vary on the beauty of these things. Some believe that tall trees, overlooking a babbling brook, are more beautiful than a glistening, white sandy beach. That’s because God made us unique, with our own joyful experiences, as we witness beauty throughout our lives. When it comes to people, God looks inside our hearts for beauty. God did this when He chose King David: “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7 New International Version).
Sin steals beauty. Sin attempts to ruin the beautiful things and people that God has created. A smashed butterfly is no longer beautiful. Nor, is a beach littered with trash, or an animal that’s been killed on the side of the road. There was no death, until Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, in the Garden of Eden. “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in the way death came to all people, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12)– Grass died, flowers began to wilt, animals fought, people murdered each other, and childbirth hurt. Those things aren’t pretty. Sin is ugly. Jealousy, anger, lies, rebellion, and pain came along when sin began insidiously seeping its way into the world. That first sin of disobedience destroyed much of the perfect beauty God meant for us to have.
Let’s not be fooled into thinking that anyone lives a perfectly beautiful life, in perfectly beautiful surroundings, with perfectly beautiful people. Pictures shared on social media are not an accurate representation of our lives, but people share them, because we desire the beauty and perfection, which can only come from God. “From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth” (Ps. 50:2). The reality is, that most of our not-so-beautiful life events, are not shared publicly. Imagine if everyone were to share those!
In real life, people are dealing with sins and strongholds, and just trying to make it through each day. Some people are caring for a sick family member or dealing with a family member going through addiction. Some people are victims of domestic violence or abuse, and others are dealing with anger or depression. We are all affected by each other’s sinful actions. Sometimes there are no choices about the situations in which we find ourselves, but we do have the choice to trust in God and follow Jesus. It’s a promise that God’s path will lead to beauty in your life.
The silver lining is found when God makes beauty out of the brokenness in our lives. He can make beauty from ashes. The bible says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (Ecc. 3:11). He will take away our pain and damage, and create something new and beautiful. This brings us hope and healing, and ultimately brings God glory. During the storm, He will lead us to see the beautiful things that He knows will give us the greatest joy. Then we will gain wisdom. It may be a rainbow that surprises you after you’ve cried your eyes out. It may be the beauty of seeing a family member healed, or set free, after many prayers. You may find beauty in the soft, elderly hands you hold as you gaze into your grandmother’s blue or brown eyes, knowing time is running out. Your child is beautiful when she or he gives you a hug after a really hard day. Beauty is reconciliation after answered prayers, when you thought all was lost. Beautiful is the adopted child who comes to his or her forever home to live with you, after you miscarried twice, and thought the hurt would never mend.
Because God is here in our world, because Jesus lives within the brokenhearted, and makes them brand new in him, we can find beauty in imperfections. This is why an old broken down cabin sitting up on a grassy, green hill, looks beautiful with the pink and orange sun going down behind it. The cabin represents history filled with pain and life experiences. Broken people have lived there. But God’s expansive sky surrounds it, and the windows are lit with a soft yellow glow, showing signs of life inside. If you know people who have come to Christ, after rejecting him over and over again, you’ll now see light in their eyes, where once there was darkness. Their lives are not perfect; none of us has a perfect life. But when we walk and talk with Jesus, he makes us beautiful, and he helps us to see the beauty around us.
Ask God to reveal the truth about beauty for you. It matters not what people say or what people believe about beauty. God’s truth about beauty is the only definition we need. If God says it’s ugly, it is, and if God says it’s beautiful, it is! Follow Him, and get excited about the beauty He will reveal to you about yourself, others, and the situations in your life. Not everyone or everything is beautiful. Outward beauty fades, but no one can take away the beauty of Christ within our hearts. “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised” (Prov. 31:30). God’s beauty is eternal!
The Year of the LORD’S Favor
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’S favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.
Isaiah 61: 1-3