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“One frequently only finds out how really beautiful a really beautiful woman is after considerable acquaintance with her; and the rule applies to Niagara Falls, to majestic mountains, and to mosques--especially to mosques.” --Mark Twain
I'm studying beauty. Not "how to," but "what is...and...how is it important?"
The more that God shows me about beauty, the more I realize we have been deceived. The more I am beginning to see my own definitions crumble under the answers that point me away from myself and my "mirrors" altogether.
Why does Proverbs 31 tell us that beauty is vain? Not because we are vain if we have it or even desire it, but because it has no value to our own betterment. There is nothing wrong with beauty.
Like a well built home, beautifully landscaped and freshly painted...if the inside is unfinished, unkempt or uninhabitable, the beauty on the outside is vain. It might be nice for the houses next to it in the neighborhood, but it won't hold a family securely until there's attention and warmth on the inside.
On the other hand, we don't tear down the siding of that house to prove that we only see value in a well maintained interior. No...beauty isn't wrong. It's only unnecessary to the basic purposes of life, it isn't unnecessary to the enjoyment of it.
God wants us to enjoy life...beauty is a big part of that.
The deception creeps in as we are growing and developing and beginning to see the way beauty or lack of it determines the way we are treated. I'm realizing that true beauty isn't defined on a person, nor is it defined in a person. Rather, true beauty is manifested in the way a person perceives beauty.
So maybe there is a "how to" after all.
Look at the crows feet around the eyes and think about the lifetime of smiles that put them there.
Look at the raised eyebrows on a child and think about what questions and realizations are being blown up into truth inside the brain behind them.
Look at the scar embedded in the skin and think about the time and attention it took to heal.
Look at the pimples, the birth marks, the hairy moles, the warts and all and remember nobody chose to get attention that way. Remember that there's always a story under the skin. Remember even the genetic traits that pop up in us and those around us, speak of love between two people, and two more people, and two more. Love that saw a deeper beauty than what magazine covers will ever understand.
I stood in my kitchen yesterday afternoon and watched my nine year old pull out his homework and sit down studiously to finish. I watched my seven year old log on to a computer game happily satisfied that he had finished all his work at school for the third day in a row. I watched my five year old pull up a chair next to him pop his two middle fingers in his mouth and sit contentedly to watch his older brother play...just happy they are both home again for the day. I observed it all, so normal, so unworthy of a story about it, but I am trying to train my eye toward beauty. And I saw it. It was full beauty, there in a brief moment of normalcy I found it. Not because I thought about how some people don't have healthy children. Not because I thought about missing anyone. Not because I saw any exception in our day or in our family, but because we are breathing and walking out the gift of living, from a God who cares about every moment. It was a taste of worship.
God refreshes my eyes this way. He shows me that the perception of beauty in His ways, leads me to Him. To worship. In that state I know something, I marvel in it and without pride I accept the fact that I am beautiful. You can't tell me otherwise.
“They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces were not ashamed.”
Psalm 34:5 NKJV
“Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous! For praise from the upright is beautiful.”
Psalm 33:1 NKJV
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