For some reason this blog post has been the most difficult one to sit down and write. It's the one that seems to take up the most real estate in my mind, and yet I have been struggling for days on how to put pen to paper. Perhaps it is because I know that I am no expert on beauty. Perhaps it is because I haven't truly found all the answers to this "beauty question". Perhaps it's because I wonder if I could be tapping into something bigger than you or me. Perhaps. Perhaps. Perhaps.
Still, the question plays in my mind daily, and I believe it is time to begin breaking it down. Why do we struggle with beauty?
By we, I mean we women. Now I know this might not include EVERY woman. I have come across some amazing women who do not struggle with the beauty question. But the majority of us seem to. And this issue does not discriminate. No matter the age, no matter the skin color, the weight, the height, the ethnicity, many of us struggle with beauty. But why?
In order to dig deeper into this question, I felt the need to open God's word. This might not be where other women seek answers, but it's the place for me. The last few weeks have brought me deeper into prayer, into God's word. In essence, it seems to me that this beauty struggle is almost a blessing, one that leads me to the Source of my beauty. And so far, I've tapped into a few interesting points.
1. MOST WOMEN HAVE A LONGING TO BE BEAUTIFUL
I believe we women are truly all beautiful. But something deep in us longs to be seen as beautiful. That's not to say we don't desire to be seen as successful, or smart, powerful, or loving, or respected. But beauty is at the core of each of us. Beyond the outer beauty, there seems to be something within us that longs to be beautiful- to the core. It might look different for each of us, but our hearts long to be seen as beautiful.
2. WE LOOK FOR WAYS TO BE BEAUTIFUL EVERYWHERE
This looks different to different women. For some of us, we try to find our beauty in our bodies. We diet and exercise, spend money on our hair, our skin, our wardrobes. For others among us, we try to find our beauty in the approval of others, and so we do what we must to gather the words of others. This could lead to promiscuity, infidelity, or gossiping with girlfriends. Still others among us seek beauty in our position, and so we strive and strive to achieve degrees, or money, or status. And then there are those of us who look no further than the mirror for any beauty validation. Pride. A slippery slope. There are endless places to search for our beauty. I can honestly say I myself have searched for beauty in all of the above, from the size of my jeans, to the words of my husband, to the pride in my heart. How about you?
3. THESE BEAUTY QUESTS NEVER SATISFY
Now here is where we may disagree, but none of these paths lead to beauty. Not lasting beauty anyway. Instead, they become idols. God speaks of this in Hosea when he says, "She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them." (Hosea 2:7) This is what it's like for us chasing after our beauty in things of this world. I might be the only one, but even at my "most beautiful" (in the eyes of the world) I was always still reaching. I could never quite "get there". I was a pound away, or on target for a day, or a week, or even a month, but never fully satisfied. I'd enjoy the words of my loving husband, but only for a moment. Then I'd doubt. I'd feel pleasure in achieving success, but only for a while. Never fulfilled. Chasing, but never truly catching. And so it is when we seek beauty in the gods of this world.
4. THERE IS ONLY ONE SOURCE OF BEAUTY
This is also a struggle to write about because I admit to not being in this truth each and every day. But still, it is truth. There is only One source of beauty, only One place we can search for our beauty and find it fully, that we might be fully satisfied. Our God. The God. In the same book of Hosea, I find one of my all time favorite verses, "Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her." (Hosea 2:14) In His tender love for us, God purposely leads us into the wilderness, perhaps into this struggle of beauty, for it is in the struggle that we find Him. He goes on to say "I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked." (Hosea 2:17) In His love, He leads us into the wilderness to speak tenderly to us. He removes the gods that we pointlessly chase and opens our eyes to Himself. This is the source of beauty that will bring true satisfaction. Rather than seeking a number on the scale, we see the beauty He has made in us, the love He pours over us. We find our beauty, our worth, our value in being His. Nothing can compare to that.
Oh that this would be the happy ending of our beauty journey, but if you're anything like me, you know it's not. Because just like God's people in the book of Hosea, I myself am prone to wander. And so one moment I am resting in the truth that I am "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14), and the next moment I am turning back to the idols of my life, wondering if maybe this time....
Do you struggle with a wandering heart, too? I'm thinking maybe you do. As I learn more about my own wandering heart, I am feeling led to write more on this topic. I am currently praying over creating a devotional workbook that touches on these beauty questions. Focusing on the book of Hosea, I have begun working on a project where I will share my own stories, challenge you to explore yours, and even incorporate photography as a way to grow in our beauty journeys. I hope to share it with you all this summer. Please keep this in prayer, as it is something I've never done before.
So what about you? Do you struggle with beauty? Are you looking somewhere specific for your beauty? Do you recognize the idols in your life? Or are you convinced I've gone crazy? It's possible! But do share. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject.