Monday, October 22, 2007

How do I look?

Extreme Makeover: Heart Edition

“How do I look?” should not just address the question of my external appearance. Is the expression on my face beautiful? Are my behaviors becoming? Is the beauty of my character shining through?

Grace, charm, delicacy, elegance… These are some of the words that depict beauty. In the Bible, beauty is used to describe the good news of peace, good tidings, and salvation. God is beautiful because of His holiness. (To me that says that beauty is something that is set apart for noble purposes.) God bestowed beauty upon His children by showering them with love and salvation. He crowns the meek (humble) with salvation. When we realize that His rescue in our lives makes us beautiful, we can shine!

In Isaiah 61:3, there is a promise that God will replace our ashes with beauty. It is a poignant picture of a woman in mourning, sitting in the ashes of a ruined life and her rescue and restoration to beauty. I think this is why Extreme Makeover: Home Edition has become such a popular show. In the course of a week, the crew takes a home that is a ruin of ashes (or mold or any other problem) and restores it to an amazing sight. God wants to do that with our hearts.

Let’s look at how the Bible defines beauty. 1 Peter 3:3-4 says that our beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit which is of great worth in God’s sight.

Some traditions in the past have not allowed jewelry or certain hairstyles in order to keep their women “pure” in their beauty. So what does it mean that our beauty does not come from jewels, hairstyles or clothing? The source of beauty is internal – the exemplification of beauty is external. A beautiful heart, a gorgeous spirit will shine through our exterior! A rotten heart all dressed up in fancy designer clothes will still smell and look rotten. No amount of painting a dilapidated barn will improve its appearance. Every day on the television we are assaulted with images of women who look very beautiful but who behave in very ugly ways. If your heart is not gentle and quiet – submitted to God- you will find it impossible to be truly beautiful.

There should be harmony in our inner beauty and our outer beauty. You are a beautiful person inside if you are allowing God to reside in your heart. You have an inner beauty that God created – so let that shine! Make your outer beauty a reflection of your inner heart. God created women to be beautiful.

Now, I’m not a fashion queen and I can’t tell you what is in style. But, here’s what I do. I dress to please God, to please my husband and for myself. I want people to see my character when they meet me, so I don’t want them to be distracted by anything external. Are people talking about my clothes (positively or negatively) when they leave my presence or are they impressed by my kindness, gentleness, humility and patience? If a man is so distracted by your immodest dress, he is unable to even see your character inside. I believe in being beautiful for my husband (it’s okay for him to lust after me!), but I want to be careful not to be a problem for another man. We tend to forget as women how visual men are and how easily distracted they can be by a little cleavage!

"We women must realize how visual men are, and because of that we should wear modest clothes. Not because we don't have the right to wear what we want, but for the benefit of the spiritual life of our brothers in Christ."
~ Heather Arnel Paulsen ~
Emotional Purity: An Affair of the Heart

On the other hand, I have a real problem with moms who bring their kids to school in their pajamas. I understand the dilemma of getting yourself ready along with all the kids, but couldn’t we at least get dressed?

So, after I wrote these words, I did a totally embarrassing thing! I love morning sunshine, so I open the windows regardless of how I’m dressed (who’s looking anyway?) Around 7:30 am, I decided to open the shades in robe. Just as I opened them, the school bus stopped right in front of the window. It didn’t really bother me, but my husband was sure that the kids on the bus got a real kick out of that!

What has happened to our sense of self-respect? Lack of attention to your appearance communicates a message about your self-image. One thing my husband has taught me is that if you look good, you feel good. When I dress in a sharp outfit, I feel like I can conquer the world. If I’m still in my pajamas when my husband comes home from work, it sends a message to him too! The message a visual guy takes from this image is that his wife does not value herself or him. It only takes a few minutes to look desirable for him when he walks through that door. It can be really tough to put your appearance on the top of your priorities when you are a new mom, but it is actually important. I’m not a big fan of external appearances, but I’ve learned that I really do feel better when I’m dressed nice (no sweats or flannel shirts please) and smell fresh. It says that I have self-respect and that I value myself.

My husband and I were teaching a Sunday school class on marriage several years ago. We asked the participants to share something they loved about their spouses. As they went around the room, each person admired his or her spouse until we reached a gentleman in his late fifties. He began saying that he never would have married his wife for her looks. In his words, she was quite homely and had nothing very attractive to draw him to her. But, he proclaimed, she was a Proverbs 31 woman. In other words, she sure was ugly but she was godly. In his mind, it was a great compliment, but the rest of us were absolutely speechless. How could we respond to a praise sandwiched between such disparaging remarks?

I have never forgotten that image. I want my husband to see that I am both beautiful on the inside and on the outside! We may not all look like Hollywood stars – we don’t have the money to invest in plastic surgery! But, we can do our best to take care of this home for our hearts and make sure it is well kept. Knowing that I am a creation of God, I can believe that I am beautiful (look up Psalm 139 to reaffirm this). Steven Curtis Chapman sings a song called the fingerprints of God. It reminds me that God made me just the way I am and He sees me as very beautiful inside and out. If your heart is at peace with God, you will be truly beautiful.

Visit Loni for more In other words...


MiPa said...

What a lovely post! Bless you for sharing!

Kris said...

I love the example of the older gentleman marrying his "ugly" wife because of her godly character. Oh, if only people married blindly to physical characteristics!

A godly character is, truly, the most beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

Julie@Shanan Trail said...

I appreciated your qualification of the question, "How do I look." It really is about more than what we are wearing.

And at the end, you reminded me of wisdom from my dad, "You act how you’re dressed."

Blessings ~

Heather said...


Denise said...

You my dear friend, are what true beauty is, love you.

Elisa @ Extravagant Grace said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I enjoyed reading!

Loni said...

Thanks so much for sharing. I love all you wrote. And yes, even the part of wearing PJ's out! Though may be "modest" - it's not appropriate either! Thanks for the stories and sharing your heart!

If you'd like be sure to be a part of the book drawing - I think you'd like it!

Cheryl said...

Very well said. You packed a lot into this post. I absolutely agree with you!