What is Beauty?

The other day, my sister wanted someone to practice her photography skills on, so she popped into my room and asked if I would come be her “model”. ūüėÄ I wasn’t exactly feeling up to it, but my mom said something to the extent, “You should go and help her out.” So I was like, okay, sure. It’ll probably end up being fun.

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I got ready. Washed my hair. Put on a little make-up. Tried on an outfit that, in my mind, I imagined would look perfect. Well, when I stood in front of the mirror, the outfit on me, it didn’t look so perfect after all.

I tried on a few different variations, but nothing looked good. A headache began to pulse behind my eyes and my stomach knotted … Thoughts filtering into my mind: You never look good.

Finally I changed back into the original outfit and told myself, You know what, it doesn’t matter. This isn’t about me anyway. And beauty, or lack of it, isn’t who I am.¬†I grabbed my Bible and headed outside with my sister into the crisp, cold air. Let’s highlight something else about me. Those precious moments when I stop worrying about my outward appearance and delight in being my King’s child.

I did enjoy the photo shoot … besides being cold! :p

And I want to tell you all who struggle with insecurity like me: Outward beauty truly is fading and subjective. But a woman who delights in the Lord, a rare beauty illuminates from her.

And part of delighting in the Lord, I feel, is saying confidently to your Creator and for your own heart to hear: I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.”

And: “How mighty and glorious You are to have made me pure and whole! And how good You are, the way You keep sanctifying and beautifying me on the inside.”

Philippians 1:6

6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

Hebrews 9:14

14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

1 Corinthians 6:11

11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

See, I don’t think the Father is pleased when we tear ourselves down constantly. Insulting His creation.

Genesis 1:27

27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

We’re living after the Fall, and there is no longer perfection, so we need to stop grasping for it.

After photo shoots, I might find some pictures with just the right lighting and where I’m standing at just the right angle, and I determine that I might look kinda pretty. But I usually find other pictures that make me feel bad about myself. I see all my flaws and wonder anxiously if this is what people see me like everyday. What are they secretly thinking about me if I look like that?

There have been times I’ve wanted to hide myself because I felt my flaws made me unacceptable.

But this is ridiculous. I have to continually reject that lie. Why would I mock my Creator’s design? How does He feel when I listen to people’s opinions rather than His voice of love, and this cultivates an ungrateful heart within me? Why would I make everything about me and my fear, and hide myself away from God’s love and sharing that love with others?

Ephesians 2:10

10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Dear women, beauty is not all that important.

But I do think every woman innately wants to feel beautiful and treasured, so I just want to tell you that¬†beauty is subjective and people have different perspectives. Maybe there have been some people who’ve said some hurtful things about your appearance … but I can almost guarantee there are also others who find you beautiful.

Song of Solomon 4:7

7 You are altogether beautiful, my love;
    there is no flaw in you.

And, I’ve told myself, even if every person thinks I’m kind of ugly and awkward, but my eternal Father and Savior finds me beautiful, that’s quite enough.

The only One who’s opinion really matters says: I made you and it is good.

Flaws and all, I am His.

His adopted daughter. Cherished. Secure. Loved.

1 Peter 3:3-4

3¬†Do not let your adornment be merely outward‚ÄĒarranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel‚ÄĒ 4¬†rather¬†let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible¬†beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

My identity and confidence don’t come from others opinion of me. They’re just people.

My God and King, it’s His voice I will listen to. And in His presence, I’ve never felt Him say: you’re ugly. I’ve never felt Him turn His face away from my flaws. Instead, I picture His gentle hands forming everything about me in my mother’s womb. I picture His strong arms always open to me – welcoming me in. His smile brilliant, His eyes filled with bottomless love.

I’m so complete and beautiful in Him.

And even when I’m old and shriveled up. Thousands of wrinkles, coarse gray hair, and body sagging – all the earthly definition of beauty fading away before my eyes – I will still be so complete and beautiful in Him. As I’m His and His alone.

Truly, if you chase outward beauty, you will never be satisfied. You will never feel beautiful enough. There will always be a girl that you see as better than yourself. If you chase popularity, charm, and wittiness, you will always come up feeling empty. You will never be quite celebrated enough. Have enough.

These things are fleeting. Deceptive. Empty. It can all be tactics Satan uses to lead us astray.

Chase Christ. He will satisfy. His Word says that a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised! So let’s put more stock in character and faith than a gorgeous face & body and a witty mind.

1 Samuel 16:7

For¬†the Lord does not¬†see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the¬†Lord looks at the heart.‚ÄĚ

Beauty and charm are ultimately ugly without Christ. It will come out that this kind of woman is living only for herself. And you will see the selfish way she chases the high. The arrogant way she pushes others aside. The cruel way she tramples people to elevate herself.

Proverbs 11:22

22 As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout,
So is a lovely woman who lacks discretion.

That’s when you see that beautiful suddenly isn’t beautiful anymore.

But what about a woman who fears God? A woman who genuinely follows the Lord Jesus. Who wholeheartedly believes God’s love for her and loves Him. A woman with a heart for people, who sincerely cares for them. A woman passionate about doing what God has called her to. A joyful, radiant woman. A woman who cares for herself and her household. Who hungers for the Word. Who delights in being with Jesus in prayer. A woman who walks in confidence not found in herself. A woman comfortable in God’s design of her femininity. A woman who laughs a lot, complains seldom, and doesn’t look to you for validation.

Now that’s a woman of lasting beauty! That’s a woman who shall be praised. That’s a woman we should admire.

So, dear sister, I want to tell you that you’re beautiful. But don’t chase perfection in outward beauty, chase perfection in Christ.

That’s beautiful.

May we women grow in this beauty together! ‚̧

Proverbs 31:30

30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.

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The Danger of Shame

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Dear sisters in Christ, today I want to talk to you about the dangers of shame.

Shame is something that a lot of you may carry. And it’s something that needs to be dealt with, lest it destroy you.

I think shame is oftentimes, if not always, Satan’s tool. Not God’s.

Shame says: You are wrong. Not: You’ve done wrong.

Shame is an identity.

An identity that suffocates you and leads you into darkness and confusion.

You ¬†might feel shame because of “really bad” sins in your past.

You might feel shame because of something done to you.

You might feel shame because of emotional or verbal abuse.

You might feel shame simply because your personality, perspective, or circumstances make you more vulnerable to it than others.

But the truth is, as a daughter of God, shame should not be an identity you claim. Yes, there are times of guilt, remorse, conviction, and repentance.

Psalm 51:17

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart‚ÄĒ
These, O God, You will not despise.

But when you can hardly look at or think about yourself without being drenched in shame, then you are embracing a  lie straight from the mouth of the Evil One.

Because, if you are a daughter of God, you are redeemed. Made pure. And as a human being, you are made in the image of God!

Yes, mankind chose sin and perverted perfection. But if you trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior, then when God looks at you, He sees Jesus. As He accepts Jesus, He accepts you in Jesus. As He loves Jesus, He loves you in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 1:3-6

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

Don’t hold onto shame.

It will pollute you, your relationships, and your life.

Particularly when it comes to romantic relationships, shame can be very dangerous.

A girl might accept all kinds of nonsense from a man because she doesn’t believe that she, personally, could get any better treatment.

She might participate in sin because her boyfriend communicates that she’s worth no more, and she accepts that because of her identity of shame.

She might settle for a guy who abuses her. Emotionally. Verbally. Even physically.

She might stay with a guy who is unstable or self-absorbed because, well, at least he wants her and doesn’t seem to care that she’s this, this, and this.

I mean, who could want a messed-up, stupid, failure of a woman like herself? If this guy will actually take her, she better make this relationship work.

A Christian girl might imagine herself unworthy of a godly man, for whatever reason. Therefore, instead of waiting for a man who will lovingly lead her toward Christ, pursue God with her, and truly strive to live out marriage as the Bible commands, she will run headlong into the first relationship that, unbelievably, comes her way.

But, my precious sisters, that is not how you follow Christ.

God is not pleased when your boyfriend (or any person) treats you badly, carelessly, or with selfish intent. God calls people to love you as He loves you.

John 13:34

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

God is not pleased when you make ungodly, unBiblical, insensible, foolish, harmful, careless, or hasty decisions based on your self-claimed identity of shame and your idea that you couldn’t possibly have a good and beautiful marriage like godly people get.

God makes people godly.

Romans 8:1-4

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Breathe in His grace. Sit at His feet. See yourself as He sees you to be. Breathe out His love. And accept every good and undeserved gift He gives. Rejoice and glorify Him through that gift.

No, none of us deserve an awesome spouse – because we aren’t awesome.

But God is awesome.

And He chose you. He wants you. He loves you.

He has a specific plan for your life. Things like love. Joy. Peace. Purpose. Ministries. Relationships. Fellowship. Marriage. Children. Jobs. Mission Work. Education. Passions and hobbies …

He works through any and all these things to glorify Himself in and through your life, and draw you and others ever closer to Himself.

Jeremiah 29:11-14

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.

You may not feel you should get a godly spouse. That a godly man would want you. But if God wants to give you marriage, then by all means, accept that amazingly godly man and shout praises to your Father in heaven. He is awesome!

Let Him wash away the shame.

When you are His, washed clean by the powerful blood of Christ Jesus, you are CLEAN. All clean. No more shame, sweet girl. Bask in God’s love and let God’s love sanctify and change you.

You may have some more growing to do before you are ready to partner with and serve alongside a godly man.

But rest assured, if God is leading your heart toward marriage, He would have you choose a godly man.

Don’t settle for a man who will pull you away from Christ, or even sit back and watch as you strive for faith. Wait for a man who will push you toward God. Who will run the race with you. Who will worship God wholeheartedly with you.

2 Corinthians 6:14-16

14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God.

Wait for a man who will see you as God sees you.

Beloved.