Why is it so hard to redefine beauty?
I wrestle, almost daily, with the concept of beauty. Am I trying hard enough to be beautiful? Am I trying too hard? Should I care?
Whatever answers I come up, the truth is that I flounder. My resolve to not care about others' perceptions of beauty crumbles a little each time I see a women's magazine claiming to have the secret to thinner hips, fuller lips, and bigger eyes. And then a little more when I walk by Victoria's Secret in the mall. And the final hit comes when I turn on that darn tv and see women that look more like preteens than fully-grown women.
Although I don't care much for the media's perception of beauty in women, I don't fully blame it for the way I feel. Instead, I think of the twenty-first verse of Matthew 6: "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (NIV)." Or as the New Living Translation frames it, "Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be."
I like the way the Forerunner Commentary explains the verse: "[Matthew] implies money, but the principle includes anything of such importance—apart from the Kingdom of God and His righteousness—that achieving it dominates our thinking, planning, and conduct."
Does beauty fall in this category for me, of dominating my thinking, my planning, and my conduct? Yes, yes, and yes.
And this marks the important distinction for me when approaching the issue of beauty. It isn't wrong for me to curl my hair in the morning, or to put on lipstick before going out to dinner. But the worrying, even obsessing, about what my hair, face, or body looks like is where I go astray. When I believe that my beauty is more important than my contribution to the kingdom of God here on this earth, I lose vital focus on the otherworldly priorities that Jesus calls us, as his followers, to cultivate.
Because no matter how smooth or frizzy my hair may be does not affect my ministry to those around me, and my relationships with my neighbors, unless I am thinking more about the former than the latter. My physical appearance has nothing to do with my spiritual condition and my heart for those around me, unless I let become a hindrance.
In my "Rachel-reading" of verse 21, I would say it like this: "Where your priorities and thoughts most often focus on, your passion, time, and habits will follow."
I've already started pinning my 2013 fitness plans and new hairstyles, but I'm going to put those on hold (not the exercise, just the perpetual pinning of ab-flattening routines!) while I focus on my heart and my habits. I am going to practice choosing a definition of beauty that prioritizes a gentle heart, loving spirit, and hands that serve and reach out to those around me.
Lord God, create in me a new heart,
redefine in me a new definition and embodiment of beauty,
and fill my spirit with peace and contentment with who You have made me to be.