In a recent email, my friend, Monica, wrote, “The messages for our daughters and sons about what the world considers beautiful are everywhere… If we aren’t talking with them about what God thinks how else will they really know the truth?”
I see the images everywhere, beautiful women and men with perfect forms and flawless complexions. I hear what my youth group girls say about themselves and others. I see the securities and insecurities. I’ve felt them. And Monica is right, if we aren’t talking to them, from whom will they learn? From our beauty-obsessed entertainment culture? From their friends at school? From television and movies and music?
Last night, while being bored to death with the Patriots/Bills game, I flipped back to the American Music Awards Show, and my heart broke. From the interviews on the red carpet, to the cleavage-ridden mini-dresses on the presenters, to the seductive twistings and turnings of the dancers, “beauty” was everywhere, and it was empty. I thought about life and how the majority of the people at the awards show may be beautiful, but they don’t have beautiful lives… as hard as we might try to imagine they do.
I’ve thought a lot about beauty recently. Honestly, I’ve questioned my own… feeling as if so much of my femininity has been cruelly ripped away from me as I’ve watched my body change through the chemo. I’ve wondered if I’ll ever feel beautiful again… then I realize where the truth about beauty lies. It’s not in how I look or feel. It’s in the reality of the world around me and all the blessings God has given me.
The deep brown penetrating eyes of my Asher and Audrey. The mischievous green eyes of my Micah. The sparkling hazel eyes of my Brian.
The way Brian’s smile can light up a room and fill you with warmth.
Forgiveness. Finding it in Christ. Asking and receiving it from others. Giving it to others even when it hasn’t been asked.
Total abandonment to God’s will. Yielding ourselves to God rather than living egocentrically.
Simplicity. The beauty of a single flower. A simple hug on a bad day. A quick phone call to say, “You’re special to me.”
Watching friends like Maretta and Kristin worship on Sunday mornings.
Prayer. Knowing that I can talk to God anytime, anywhere, about anything. And be real.
The smile of a child that delights in tiny accomplishments because it’s a big step for them.
Artwork on my refrigerator.
Picking up the phone and hearing the voice of my best friend, Beth.
Grandparents. That “going home” feeling of walking into Nan and Pap’s house. Watching my children with their own grandparents and envisioning what their futures will be.
Deep thoughts with Asher. Silly giggles with Micah. Sweet snuggles with Audrey. Safe sharing with Brian.
Music. Not over-produced empty ramblings with no meaning, but truth that reaches the soul.
Watching snow fall. Building snowmen, then drinking hot chocolate with rosy cheeks and runny noses.
The smell of fresh pine, the glitter of Christmas lights, and the joy of Christmas music.
Laughter… playing games with friends and thinking your sides will split.
Watching Grandma pull that turkey out of the oven on Thanksgiving day, then looking at all the faces around you and feeling at home.
Friendships. The deep ones where you don’t have to say anything and you’re still comfy with each other.
Warm slippers worn with fun socks.
The way my heart still skips a beat when Brian’s jeep roars down the driveway and I know he’s home.
Contentment. Knowing this is where God has me, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
The squeals of my children outside playing.
Sitting with my mom and talking for hours. Leaning my head on my Daddy’s shoulder and crying.
Perspective. Knowing that people are much more precious than possessions.
Eternity. Heaven waiting for me, and Jesus ready to greet me with open arms.
I could fill pages. And I probably will. I know this won’t be the last time I share about beauty, because that’s the beauty of beauty… you learn and see something beautiful and new every day. But to finish, I quote the wisdom of Monica again, who sums it up perfectly, “… becoming more like Christ every day. That is the ultimate beauty standard.” I pray that today each of you finds something beautiful to smile about… and thank God for it.