I don’t care how you look at it, we all have feelings about our appearance. Whether they fall more along the insecurity end of the spectrum or on the vanity end, your feelings about beauty take up a lot of energy. Worrying about your appearance takes a lot of time and obsessing over what others think can be draining.
When I was young, I was a beautiful girl. I had no insecurities at all, and I swore I would never be one of “those” people who dyed their hair and stressed about their weight.
Twenty-five years down the road, my age has definitely started to show. My hair has become greyer each year, turning the dark, rich color that I had arrogantly loved into a shade of tree bark matching the oak in my backyard. My skin is littered with sunspots and my moles have rapidly multiplied. While I don’t dye my hair currently and am no longer on a diet, these things are familiar to me now as I have struggled to come to terms with my aging appearance and fluctuating weight.
We all have a beauty that changes with time. We all struggle to accept the things we don’t love, and we all struggle to manage the vanities of those things we’re proud of.
But outer beauty is a mirage. It is always changing, and it is exhausting to try and chase a ghost.
What does the Bible say about beauty, and how can I find rest in that?
We’ve all heard many say that inner beauty is what counts. But that is easier said than done. The recent media has made a shift toward loving how you are built rather than creating airbrushed images that are impossible to obtain. This is a step in the right direction, but it still places the importance on outer beauty. It still emphasizes a stress to impress.
The first thing to remember is that God created you on purpose, exactly as you are. And because God is omniscient (meaning that He knows all things at all times), He knew what you were going to look like at every stage of your life as He was masterfully making you. He did it on purpose, and He is pleased with how you turned out.
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. Genesis 1:27, 31a
Beyond how He made you to look, He made your tender inner self too. While we might use our outward appearance to try and gain the acceptance and love of those around us, God already loves who we are at our core.
In their Bible study, You Are Loved, Sally Clarkson and Angela Perritt have this to say about how Jesus sees you:
YOU ARE LOVED
Not because you get straight As or don’t get straight As in school
You are loved.
Not because of your athletic abilities or lack thereof.
You are loved.
Not because of the good things you have done, or because of your past.
You are loved because you are His.
When you accept Jesus Christ as Savior of your life and invite Him into your heart, you are His. And He loves you just as you are, the way He made you. Never forget that.
You are His masterpiece, and when He looks at you, He sees perfection. He sees a princess.Angela Perritt
To start the journey toward this kind of acceptance and rest in how you look, follow these (not so) simple steps:
1. Give your beauty insecurities and vanities to God
As with anything, the first place to start is on your knees. Surrender. Give all of your feelings and emotions over to the One who created you. Lay it all before Him. Recognize that He is the One who will remain.
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30
Please know that you will probably be returning to this step over and over again. Unfortunately, with these kinds of deeply seeded struggles, a “one and done” approach rarely works. But the more you do return to this step, the more you will be rewarded.
Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. Psalm 34:5
There is never any shame in returning to the Lord over and again with our hurts. He welcomes the opportunity to love on you every time.
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
2. Pray that you can see yourself as God sees you
God created you perfectly in His own image. He sees beneath the blemishes and caked on makeup. And He loves who He sees.
You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you. Song of Solomon 4:7
For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory. Psalm 149:4
It is hard to see ourselves in this way. All we tend to see are our faults and imperfections. But if what we ask for is in line with His heart, He will happily give it. Ask to see yourself as He sees you.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. John 15:7
So pray. Seek God. He will answer your request and slowly you will begin to see yourself as God sees you.
The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7b
3. Forget trends
Trying to keep up with the latest trends in fashion and beauty is so tiring. (Not that a girl doesn’t like to shop, believe me!) And many times, those latest trends can be the most unflattering choice and can leave you feeling even more insecure!
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Matthew 6:28-30
Forget beauty trends. Look instead for what is flattering to how God made you. Not only that, but each of the latest trends seem to be more revealing than the last. Trust me when I say that NO ONE wants to see me in a short skirt or low-cut top (not to mention my midriff)!
I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. 1 Timothy 2:9-10
Wasting so much time and money on trends that come and go is futile. Instead, go with what is healthy and nourishing for your body and soul. Take care of what God has given you. By trying to cover it up or embellish it we are telling God that His creation was imperfect, not good enough.
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3:3-4
4. Let go of the “one thing”
What is that “one thing” that you can’t leave the house without? Is it your mascara? Your foundation? Having your hair done? For me it’s my coverup and blush. I feel that I look like death without them.
So, try it. Leave the house without it. See what happens.
I’m not saying you need to give it up completely. But the Lord created us without extra rosy cheeks, thick long lashes, or hairspray. So why not celebrate His creation and bless others with the joy of celebrating it too?
The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever. Isaiah 40:8
5. Meditate on scripture
It is important to become familiar with the definition of beauty in the Bible, as the more familiar you are with truth, the easier it is to pick out a lie. Use the inner beauty scriptures in this blog post, or look up your own, and meditate on them. Memorize them. Become intimate with them.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8
You must begin to recognize the voices that are not truth and then determine not to accept them as truth or listen to them. All you have to do is reject Satan’s lies and live into the truth and strong foundation of love that God has communicated to you in Scripture! There will always be a spiritual battle going on in your heart, because Satan comes to steal your faith and confidence.Sally Clarkson, You are Loved
Security equals Rest
It’s a fact that the more we focus on God’s word, the more secure we become in Him. And I don’t know about you, but the more security I feel, the more rested I become.
In my home right now, I am sitting at my table wearing 2-day old jeans, no make-up, with my unwashed hair thrown up in an unattractive (I’ve never mastered the super cute messy bun) ponytail. And I feel secure. Why? Because I know that in my home, I live with people who love me unconditionally. They don’t need a beautiful mom or wife who wears the latest trends or does her hair and makeup every day. They love my inner beauty.
God is the same way. The more we get to know His love for us, the more inner beauty Bible verses we read and become intimate with, the more secure we become in His unconditional love.
You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3 NKJV
Finding rest in changing beauty
As I age, my outer beauty is fading. I no longer turn heads on the street. I can no longer evoke a striking appearance with my makeup. My Victoria Secret bra does more work for me now than it ever did when I idolized their models. But I am confident in who God has created me to be. I don’t need all of those other things, because He loves me as I am.
Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16