We get straight to the point around here about all the things on the inside and today we’re going to pay some attention to the outside. Because truth be told, what’s happening on the outside often has a whole lot to do with what’s happening on the inside. True beauty is within.
I know sometimes the health and beauty industry gets a bad rap and, believe me, many times there’s good reason. However, I believe there are tens of thousands of professionals who are committed to helping reshape not only our bodies or our eyebrows — but also our deeply held beliefs about our worthiness as it relates to beauty.
Kahlil Gibran, one of my favorites, once said: Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.
I believe it’s true. Today I’m sharing 5 truths, as I see them, about true beauty:
1. True beauty is on the inside.
No matter how many clothes we buy or products we use, a beautiful face will never cover a bitter or critical heart. True beauty radiates out of our spirit and our soul; it manifests itself in the way we love, listen, accept, honor, nurture, and forgive the people around us. Ronald Dahl said: If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely. True beauty shines through words and actions, like a ray of light from the heart.
2. True beauty honors God.
God gave us one body in which to dwell; A place where He would make a home. In 1 Corinthians 6:20 He tells us to honor God with our bodies. It’s essentially this: we have one shot. We don’t get a second time around to get it right. We will live in these earthly shells for all the time that we have, not to serve ourselves or our appetites, but to serve the purpose for which He made us. Part of honoring our bodies is about purity and protecting ourself sexually, but I think it’s also about what we eat and drink; how we dress; being healthy and fit; and caring for our appearance. How else can we claim a better, fuller, more free life if we don’t actually manifest the fruit of a full, rich and abundant life? If we don’t actually look the part?
3. True beauty is who you are.
God made each one of us beautiful. Psalm 139:14 says: I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. That means He made YOU wonderful — and that you should know it full well.
I had a person write to me once that she loved what I had to say on the blog, but after looking at my photo (my appearance) she decided she couldn’t share the website with her husband, or let him see a photo of me, and therefore she needed me to know that my appearance and my body discredited my message and my heart.
It was a painful message to receive, and I struggled with how to respond. In the end I never did. Because at some point we have to know the truth about who we are and whose we are; whether other people like it – or us – or not. Coco Chanel said: Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself. It’s not vain to take care of your body. It’s not frivolous to care about your appearance. Beauty doesn’t define or diminish my or your faith. God made each of us beautiful, and it honors Him when we know that, full well.
4. True beauty reflects how you feel.
Since we know that God made us beautiful; that His works are wonderful; and that we’re to honor Him with our bodies, beauty becomes a reflection of how we feel about ourselves. If we’re happy on the inside we will reflect that on the outside. Perhaps that means we choose to wear color instead of black; or we put on makeup instead of hiding under a hat. I read a quote once that said: I’m nicer when I like my outfit. It’s so true! Admit it: it’s true.
When I don’t feel good on the outside, it makes me feel crabby on the inside; and when I feel bad on the inside it most certainly shows up on the outside. Beauty isn’t about attaining some illusory, ever-changing standard set by the world, but about feeling good about who you are, just as you are. Atticus said: Watch carefully, the magic that occurs, when you give a person just enough comfort to be themselves. We’re all made to love things differently. Trendy, traditional, hobo or chic – what feels true? Find what makes you feel alive – what makes you feel the most like yourself – and be that.
5. True beauty is birthed out of suffering.
As hard as this reality is, there is no escaping it. If beauty is a reflection of the heart, and sorrow carves the heart, then our hearts must know suffering to become beautiful. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross said: The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.
We all have stories. Pasts. Reasons, excuses and justifications to be broken. But we have a choice. We can look back on our life and wish we could make it different; we can define ourselves by our mistakes, our experiences, our failures or our past; or we can realize that our future, our happiness, our joy, and our belonging is ahead. My therapist once told me: All you can do with the past is gather the wisdom. Beauty is borne by gathering the wisdom of our past.
Taking the trouble and the tears and binding it to hope. Joy. To laughter. Not taking everything so seriously. Or thinking everything is final. Every person has a redemption story, we just have to be willing to find it. Beauty is learning how to wait; accepting suffering; allowing our lives to be mined of experience – the messy and the broken, together with the full – and finally, intentionally, making it beautiful.
God’s word says you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Do you believe it? It’s true. My prayer is that you would come to know it full well. Beauty is not about what a trend says; what others project; or how an industry defines it. It’s about becoming into exactly what He intended when He made you.