Becoming a Godly Woman

Defining Beauty

IMG_5599Are you beautiful?

Answer it honestly.

Are you beautiful?

As women, we all want to be beautiful. Beautiful to others, beautiful to God, Beautiful to ourselves.

Yet, for many women, we don’t feel beautiful in at least one of those areas.

Why?

Perhaps we don’t understand  that there are multiple definitions of the word “beautiful”…and we aren’t quite sure which is more accurate.

If you are like me, you go to a dictionary to find what a word means. So lets start there…

The definition of “beautiful”  is: “having qualities of beauty; generally pleasing.”  (Merriam Webster 2015)

So if beautiful is ” having qualities of beauty,” what then, is “beauty”? “The quality of being physically attractive; the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit;a particularly graceful, ornamental, or excellent quality.” (Merriam Webster 2015)

While Webster has some good physical points about people who are beautfiful…people who have qualities that are of beauty and people who are physically attractive, I find that I feel the definition is a bit limited. Rather, I feel like only the “pretty people” in life will ever accomplish being “beautiful”.  You know who I’m talking about, those people we look over at and wonder how they manage to be so beautiful physically and perfect at the same time. It feels out of my reach and I feel more crushed by it than encouraged.

Maybe God’s definition of beauty includes a little more about the women we are as a whole, versus our physical self only.

Proverbs 31 speaks of a wife of noble character…

10 Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
    She is more precious than rubies.
11 Her husband can trust her,
    and she will greatly enrich his life.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.

13 She finds wool and flax
    and busily spins it.
14 She is like a merchant’s ship,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household
    and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.

16 She goes to inspect a field and buys it;
    with her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She is energetic and strong,
    a hard worker.
18 She makes sure her dealings are profitable;
    her lamp burns late into the night.

19 Her hands are busy spinning thread,
    her fingers twisting fiber.
20 She extends a helping hand to the poor
    and opens her arms to the needy.
21 She has no fear of winter for her household,
    for everyone has warm[c] clothes.

22 She makes her own bedspreads.
    She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.
23 Her husband is well known at the city gates,
    where he sits with the other civic leaders.
24 She makes belted linen garments
    and sashes to sell to the merchants.

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity,
    and she laughs without fear of the future.
26 When she speaks, her words are wise,
    and she gives instructions with kindness.
27 She carefully watches everything in her household
    and suffers nothing from laziness.

28 Her children stand and bless her.
    Her husband praises her:
29 “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,
    but you surpass them all!”

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
    but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
31 Reward her for all she has done.
    Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

(NLT)

In studying this woman, I find that she is beautiful because of her inward self, not her outward self. While verse 22 does speak of her dressing nicely, her physical attempt at beauty is but a piece of her that makes her beautiful.

 It is this woman’s character, her trustworthiness & devotion to her husband that makes her beautiful. Her hard work, her generosity, her strength & her integrity bring definition to why she is “beautiful”. Her sense of humor, her wisdom, her kindness all are a part of what makes her “beautiful”.

“Beauty” by Gods definition, is anything but physical.

In fact, outward, physical beauty is not a priority of a truly beautiful woman in God’s eyes. While He does want us to take care of our body as it is His temple (see 1 Corinthian 6:9-20), it should not be the primary source or focus of our beauty.

1 Timothy 2: 9-10 :  And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. 10 For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do.” (NLT)

1 Peter 3:3-5: “3 Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They put their trust in God and accepted the authority of their husbands.” (NLT)

Paul tells Timothy here that women who are devoted to God ” make themselves attractive by the good things they do“.  Peter talks of beautiful women having a gentle and quiet spirit, and of placing their trust in God and their husbands.

 It is this woman’s generosity with others, her committment to hard work, her integrity when it’s very tempting to not have integrity, her trustworthiness, her kindness to others, her wisdom, her tamed words when the fire within her is burning hot,, her trust in and love for God…these things are what makes her beautiful. Not her clothing.

I guess when I think of a woman with a gentle and quiet spirit, I think of a woman who carries herself with confidence and yet is humble. A woman who is not afraid to be weak, though she is truly strong. A woman willing to shed tears over her own or someone else’s sorrows. A woman who eludes “grace” in her life. A woman whose number one priority in her life is Her heavenly Father and whose second priority in life is her husband. Words like devoted, committed, and truly caring come to mind. She is a woman who seeks God daily, and humbles herself before him when she is in the wrong. She is not afraid to make mistakes, and is the first to seek to correct them when they do occur.

I have only known a few of these women in my lifetime, but I always knew who they were almost instantly. I could trust them, I could feel God’s love through them, I just “knew”, somehow.

A woman of God lets her life and her self point to the God who brings beautiful. Do I?

I want to be beautiful.

We all do.

But are we seeking beauty in the right places in our lives?

Are we looking for beauty at the hair salon or cosmetics counter at the mall?

Or are we seeking beauty in finding opportunities to serve others?

Are we finding moments to honor and build up our husbands?

Am I finding integrity when it would be easier not to?

Am I being kind to others, regardless of if I feel like it or not?

Are we trusting God when the circumstances seem impossible?

Are we making our every effort  to point to God with our lives?

I am as guilty as the next person of seeking physical beauty above the beauty of my heart.  here’s the truth: When I want to feel beautiful, it involves hairspray and makeup more than it involves delving into God’s word, or serving others.  I will be the first admit that I need to enact changes in my own self and my own definition of beauty so that it can match up with God’s definition of beautiful.

Because, in the end, that is where I want to be- Beautiful in God’s eyes. I want to be that woman that I have met who carries herself with confidence in her Creator and a gentle and quiet spirit.

My life won’t really matter if I had “qualities that were generally pleasing”, or if I was “physically attractive”, or even if I had “excellent qualities that brought pleasure to others…”(paraphrased from Merriam- Webster)

My beauty will not be defined by the limited definition of a dictionary that a mere human wrote, as good as it is… the definition will always limit “me”. Instead, I choose to be defined by the God who imagined who I would be, and then formed me into exactly who He wants me to be,  and then gave me life outside the womb to be beautiful to Him, and guidance through His Word on how to bring His beauty to others.

We all want to be beautiful. Beautiful to others, beautiful to God, Beautiful to ourselves.

The answer to this lies in first, finding God’s definition of beauty and realizing that I am already beautiful to Him- morning breath, messy hair, puffy eyes, and all…

Then, acknowledging and accepting His definition of beauty for myself, and seeking to become more beautiful through studying and applying His word in my life…

Then, looking up one day and realizing that while working on becoming beautiful to God and then to myself, I have become beautiful to those around me…because of Him.

I am beautiful because of God, not in spite of Him.

It all starts with a definition though…make sure yours is right before you start on your journey.

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