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What is True Beauty?
Next week I'm going to be speaking at a retreat using my package "Extreme Makeover: Heart Edition". (You can see a bit of it here; order a download here; or, even better, if you have a small church and want to do a women's retreat but can't afford a speaker, look at my Retreat to Go here).

Anyway, I got thinking about that in relation to a blog discussion I was reading lately about beauty and Christianity, and in relation to the discussion we had last week on whether or not appearance matters.

To me, true beauty is all about confidence. It's confidence in Jesus as the author of our life and purpose. When we know that we are here for a purpose (that exists far beyond what we look like), we are more at peace. And when we're at peace, we're confident in who we are, we don't get caught up in the little things, and we're fun to be around. And that's part of making someone beautiful! Have you ever noticed that we tend to find confident people more fun to be with, and more attractive, than those who aren't? Confident doesn't mean extraverted, either. Sometimes confident people are very quiet, because they only speak when they have something very important to say. But confident people are calming to be with, and that's a good thing.

And it's also confidence in our calling and who we are. When we are comfortable in our own skin, and with who we are, we'll tend to shine.

Those who are more comfortable tend to respect themselves, take better care of themselves, so it all spills out and runs together. Inner beauty contributes and defines outer beauty.

But when we aren't confident, when we are insecure and think our worth is based solely in beauty, we tend to overcompensate. Either we'll spend too much time on our appearance and we'll end up looking ridiculous, or we'll give up entirely and end up looking pathetic.
Does that make any sense?

I don't think beauty is a core Christian value by any sense of the word. It is quite clear in Scripture that inner beauty matters. But at the same time, I do think we were created to want to be pretty. We were created to be The Beauty, the one that is romanced. It's why little girls want to play princesses, and why we like dressing up while boys don't.

And the Bible does praise many women because of their beauty (though not only because of it). So what does that mean in relation to us?

I think if we're worried about our looks, we need to start with Jesus. The closer we are to Him, the more we shine, the more confident we are in our own skin, and the more at peace we are, so that our mannerisms, our faces, even our presence is pleasing. But we also do need to respect ourselves, and I think that means at least making an effort to wear nice clothes (they don't have to be expensive; the best stuff I have I bought at a consignment store). I think it means finding things that fit and flatter, not just buying the latest styles. And that does mean that we have to do a bit of research and thinking about it (or else bring along a friend who is good at that sort of thing)! I always figure it's better to have just seven outfits in your closet that fit well and that you feel good in than 50 outfits that make you feel frumpy!

And it means being active. I'm not trying to preach exercise; I think God is far more concerned with our hearts than our waistlines. But part of respecting ourselves is just respecting our bodies and keeping them ready for service. That doesn't mean being a size 6. It does mean trying to keep cholesterol down, and prevent heart disease, so we have longer to serve Him if that's what He's called us to.

I think the problem we have with beauty is that we think it begins in the makeup aisle. It doesn't. It begins in Scripture and in figuring out who we are in Him. Remember that movie Shallow Hal, where Hal is cursed so that he only sees people based on their inner beauty, not their outer beauty? And he falls for a tremendously obese woman because to him she's Gwyneth Paltrow? And all the supermodels look like hags? There's some truth to that. I know many beautiful people that once you get to know them aren't nearly as beautiful. And one of the most beautiful women I know is quite overweight, but she is confident in Jesus, she dresses boldly, and she always has a smile and a hug for you.

So let's get more in touch with how Jesus sees us. Let's stop feeling guilty about all those stupid, silly, and very funny things you all left for me in the last blog post (thanks so much! I'm going to use that this weekend, and then I'll show you how I did)! And let's learn to respect ourselves. I think then we'll start to shine.
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To Love, Honor and Vacuum



At 8:46 AM , Blogger Fruitful Vine2 said…

As you so rightly said when one walks in confidence it radiates an inner beauty and calm that draws people and blesses them.

It is good to take care of ourselves and look good for the King of our hearts(Jesus) and the king of our homes(husbands)but if outer beauty is all we pay attention to then it's of no consequence in the grand scheme of life.

There definitely needs to be balance when we think of beauty. We should aim to be beautiful on the inside by cultivating our relationship with the Lord Jesus and beautiful on the outside by taking care of His temple.

Awesome post Sheila. Thanks for tweeting about it.


At 12:28 PM , Blogger LauraLee Shaw said…

This is perfectly & beautifully written. My husband has told me a hundred times that it's not about how I look, it's about how I carry myself. Bottom line: Confidence. And at the times when I am God-confident, I know I am at my best for all to see, including me.

So many women need to hear this. Lord, draw them here.


At 1:03 PM , Anonymous Connie Arnold said…

Confidence in Jesus lets his beauty shine through us, and there is no greater beauty than this! Thank you for your wonderful post, Sheila.


At 6:05 AM , Anonymous Debbie said…

This is a great post, Sheila. Being the mom of 2 daughters, I am concerned about this issue. I want my girls to know how valuable - and pretty - they are - without either becoming entirely vain OR promoting harmful habits or eating patterns.

In this day and age, its far too common to see little girls "dieting" or wearing tons of makeup - and finding a balance to live (confidence) - and to teach them is really critical. Thank you for this great overview of God's sense of beauty.

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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