Plucking, tweezing, waxing, brushing, gelling, coloring, shadowing, brightening, concealing, slathering, smearing… Oh, the things we go through to be beautiful. I feel like I’ve been working extra hard on my appearance lately for some reason: trying to hide my imperfect complexion, trying to brighten my smile, trying to tame my hair a bit more. I realize these things aren’t bad in themselves. I don’t think anyone wants to see my crazy bed hair sticking up all over my head… But I’ve become a little too obsessed. I’ve been convicted this week of spending a bit too much time behind the mirror fighting the signs of… ummm, maturity.
My general routine is to stumble out the door by 5:30am for a 30min walk with a friend (we actually get more of a workout from laughing than from the walk itself). Then I shower, get ready for work and should, theoretically, have about an hour after that to spend with God over breakfast. Coffee just tastes better when I’m with Him. But recently I’ve only had about 20 minutes to scarf down my breakfast, brush my teeth and make it to work on time. Which means…I’ve been spending too much time in front of the mirror fretting over my appearance. I’ve been neglecting my inner person.
So what are these actions exposing about my heart? I’ve lost focus. His beauty is what I should be obsessed with (Ps 27:4), not my own. It’s so easy to lose focus and start to compare myself with the young, beautiful, godly women around me instead of loving them for the beautiful creatures that God has created them to be. I’ve been too focused on myself to look out for their interests (Phil 2:3-4) or share the hard-earned insights that I’ve gained over the years (Titus 2:3-5).
I recently heard a sermon on Luke 7:36-50, the story of the woman with the alabaster jar of perfume. It must have taken great courage for her to knock on that door. Of all the houses that Jesus could have been at that night—he was, after all, known for eating with tax collectors and prostitutes—it was at Simon the Pharisee’s home. What a surprise that they actually let her enter. Here she came with her treasure of perfume in her hand, entering into a house full of religious people. I’m sure she felt every eye on her, some full of contempt, others of confusion, others even pity. Jesus’ eyes—full of love and understanding. She knelt at his feet, blinded by her tears, and opened the bottle of perfume. He looked at her as he spoke about her and to her, but more than that, he saw her. He saw her heart full of gratitude and love; it must have been utterly beautiful.
The beauty of this red-faced, puffy-eyed, weeping woman—because we all know this wasn’t the Hollywood-pretty-cry where the woman just kind of leaks from her eyes and tries to look sad— who was kissing the feet of her Savior struck a note deep in me. It made me think about what my definition of beautiful had become recently. Some of the most beautiful people I have ever met have been those who, though their outer self was wasting away after hard years of loving and serving others, were still being renewed daily in their inner self by their closeness to Jesus (2 Cor 4:16). Of these beautiful people, many have been women in their later years that have displayed the most beautiful gentle and quiet spirits that testify of hearts that know, love, and trust Jesus (1 Pet 3:3-4). Just to be in their presence is to smell the beautiful fragrance of Christ (2 Cor 2:14-15). I want to be a woman of that kind of imperishable beauty. It’s a good week to be reminded to refocus on that goal.
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. (Prov 31:30)