Marred Beauty

imagesnmxwves8I have a confession.  My mom tried to teach me to sew when I was young.  I did not like it one bit!  I truly dislike hemming.  Learning to sew buttons on felt tedious. My sister stuck a sewing machine needle through her finger once — when making a gift for me.  Sewing just seemed like a hassle, and in my mind it was not necessary.  Thus, imagine my mother’s likely surprise that this daughter of hers is now excited over making dresses.  That is right.  I completed one last year with a ton of help from my friend and from my mom.  Then I braved the world of maxi dresses and made an “easy” project.  It turned out great (with many flaws)!  And I was proud of my accomplishment.  But it also spurned a desire for more dresses to be made!

Therefore, I have been searching the internet for tutorials on how to make maxi dresses and skirts.  There are many out there, but mostly variations of the same thing.  But during this searching process I came across another trend in the you-tube world — blogging about clothes.  Not tutorials of how to make clothes — rather, clothing blogs.  These blogs discuss a persons’ outfit, how they wear that outfit, favorite outfits and favorite stores.  The fashion world is being brought into our bedrooms as we watch how another finds to match the numerous tops and bottoms in her closet.

I immediately started to compare myself.  My clothes.  My lack of style.  My desire to get it right. I felt unstylish. That led me to feel un-pretty.  That led me to let the “U” word into my head (ugly).  Ahh — the lies of Satan that march into my mind through the venue of comparison – through the medium of blogs on fashion, clothing, and style — that started with an innocent desire to find out how to make a dress.

Then I found other videos on body image.  Girls discussing their honest thoughts on their weight, or on beauty.  Again, I’m a victim of this mindset.  I’ve had discussions on the same.  And thus, I compared myself again.

I remember walking into a computer lab one day, and a male acquaintance was loafing through pictures of previous students — the female pictures.  I stood beside him and listened as he analyzed each girl.  Then all of a sudden he said, “Bingo!”  I observed the picture he was looking at.  The girl was pretty.   What made me stand there and listen, and what made him allow me to do so?  I still don’t know!  Anyway, she was a pretty girl.  I commented that he must like brunettes, as all the pictures he liked were of girls with brown hair.  He shrugged.  Then he stated, “She’s pretty… great teeth, pretty nose, nice smile.”  It’s then that I walked away.  I remember comparing myself as I meandered down the hall.  His words rang in my head, “Great teeth, pretty nose, nice smile.”  The words wouldn’t go away.  I don’t have perfect teeth, and due to a cleft palate, my nose and smile are slightly crooked.  They normally don’t bother me … but sometimes, like that day, they do.  My brain immediately registered that perfect equals pretty, and therefore I must not be.

Why do I tell you this?  What does it matter?  It matters because beauty is marred, and we women are struggling with the labels we give ourselves and which society gives us.  We mentally label ourselves as pretty or ugly.  The terms are subjective, and fickle, yet we use them as if they are the holy grail of truth.  The TRUTH is this: beauty in this world is marred.  We don’t understand it clearly, because Satan has perverted that which is good — beauty.  Beauty is God.  Beauty is found in Him.

Outward appearance is a gift… and we are stewards.  But I think also of the young lady I work with — a strikingly beautiful girl.  She has dark brown hair, and warm chocolate eyes.  She has a radiant smile.  But her body is crooked and her legs don’t work. She sits in a wheelchair. She sometimes drools.  She can’t comb her hair or put on makeup.  She relies on others for all personal cares.  In contrast are the following headlines from a simple internet search: “Top Ten Most Beautiful Women” and “100 Most Beautiful Women in the World.”  I guarantee that the women noted in these articles are pretty.  But in my quest for truth I wonder: How many of them have dermatologists teaching them skin care and assisting in nips, tucks, and popular exfoliation methods?  How many of them have tan skin that is sprayed on or applied in a computer program designed to enhance? How many of them have breasts enhanced, contoured, or reduced?  How many of them are slaves to exercise, diet, or a fear of not measuring up?  How many of them are actually the girl next door to us?  How many of them do you regularly see posing in sweat pants, t-shirts, and no make-up? I don’t know those women, and yet they seem to be what beauty is supposed to be.  Yet, I wonder … I think of the girl I work with.  She is a pretty girl.  And sometimes I look in the mirror and see myself as either a beautiful girl, a normal girl, or an unkempt girl… all depending on the time of day and my attitude.

Beauty is marred.  I confess that I’ve bought into this lie.  I’ve conformed to the world in a way that I don’t want to.  Now making pretty dresses is not bad.  Neither is proper grooming and self-care or makeup. I actually think we do need to put some effort into our appearance – in a balanced way.  But, beauty is marred, and I need to recognize this fact.  I need to understand this fact.  And I need to immerse myself afresh in God’s Word so that I recognize true beauty — not false beauty.

Oh ladies!  We are living in an era of impossible beauty standards which require money most of us don’t have.  My beauty is not based on my clothing or on my ability to buy accessories.  My beauty is not based on my hair style or makeup expertise.  No, neither is yours.  Our beauty lies in the fact that we were created by God and that the Bible tells us that everything in creation is for God’s glory. (Isaiah 43:6-8)  Our beauty is marred only when we look to the impossible and deceptive standards of physical beauty in a physical realm.  May God remind you of your value and beauty today — you are a daughter of the King!  Meditate on Psalm 139 … you are a work of God, and you are fully wonderful!  I need this reminder today.  And I apparently need to confess the sins of envy and comparison that creep into my inner being as I innocently searched the web for dress patterns!  Oh press on ladies!  One day the King will return — are his daughters going to radiate His beauty?  I hope so!  Let us redefine beauty as we look to Christ!

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