I found myself pondering some of these questions about myself as my family and I went on a cruise vacation recently. There I sat poolside watching as people frolicked about the ship's deck in their various styles of bathing attire. I found my eye settling on one particularly attractive young woman who did not appear to possess a single flaw in her outward appearance. She was petite with perfect proportions and had flawless skin. Not a dimple of cellulite nor a wrinkle or pimple to be seen. Her skin seemed as silk. Her thick dark hair framed her attractive face with almond-shaped eyes and puckering lips just beautifully. No freckles, no veins, no sunburn. And her swimsuit seemed as though it were tailor-made for her. A "Wow" moment!
Then my mind wandered reluctantly to my aging frame. Yes, time is slowly leaving its mark in one way or another. I started to feel depressed, to feel sad for the youth I had squandered and the beauty I had taken for granted. Then I truly heard a still, small voice amongst the swimmers' hoopla whispering to me.... "Your body tells a story. You have truly lived and experienced life while learning along the way. Your history shows in lessons learned in many ways. After all, I measure your worth from your inward beauty and how that beauty manifests itself to others for My glory." Another "Wow" moment!
We've all heard that beauty is fading and fleeting. Physical, outward beauty, that is. And, the statement is so very true. We are on the fast track when it comes to aging as our time here is so very short. So how do we evaluate beauty? Our pop culture has defined beauty as being young and thin with flawless skin. Fashion models have become role models and extreme dieting and exercise has taken the place of overall health and fitness.
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
It really comes down to whether or not we are focused on the outward self vs. the inward self and two things: fruit or fear. Are you bearing good fruit for Him, acknowledging Him as Lord of your life and surrendering to His perfect will for you or are you seeking approval and acceptance from a world with a warped view of what you should look like, who you should be and how you should spend your time? It's about measuring your worth in terms of:
- my figure in Inches v. my moral Integrity;
- the amount of Creases I possess v. the godly Character I am cultivating;
- the number of Wrinkles I can count v. my daily Walk with Christ;
- how much time I need to spend upon Toning v. the amount of Time spent with MY Creator, my reason for existence;
- how Smooth my skin appears v. the Sacrifices I am making daily for His glory;
- how Firm my thighs are and how Flat my stomach is v. how much has my Faith increased this month; and
- the spider Veins from carrying children or experiencing injury v. the Victory that I have in Christ that will last through all eternity.
You could make a list such as the above for any scenario whether it be time, money, social status, possessions or career.
So those creeping crows' feet around my eyes tell a story about emotions--happiness, sadness, stress--with smiles, laughter, frowns, grimaces, and winks in times of joy and sorrow. Those slowly appearing sun spots and wrinkles remind me of the idol I spent too much of my teenage years worshiping--the sun--and how overindulgence (sometimes in the pursuit of outward beauty) has its consequences. Those tiny, broken veins and new figure remind me of the joy I experienced in conceiving and carrying my children, and bringing them into this world. Truly the most precious gifts ever received. The scars on my knee remind of God's deliverance in an accident where the car could have just as easily run me over but instead hit my bike and sent me flying through the air to a soft landing with a few scrapes and one tiny broken bone. My slowly greying hair is a reflection of wisdom from a life lived and a crown of glory in living for Him. You get the picture. Outwardly, my body tells a story and it is His story as He has been with me every step of the way. The outward story is a reflection of the work that He is doing inwardly in me to make me His in every way.
If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.
And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
1 Corinthians 15:42-44
So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption
Should you take care of your fleshly body? Absolutely! As it is the temple of His Holy Spirit, we are instructed to guard it watching what we put in and do with this temporary tabernacle of God. But, how far do we go? What is your personal definition of beauty? What is God's definition of beauty? Beauty, too, can become an idol.
1 Peter 3:3-4
Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.
This skin I'm wearing now is only temporary. My spirit, in Christ, will last for all time. I take true comfort in that fact. I do eagerly await my spiritual body that will be incorruptible and accompany me through eternity and free me from these fleshly chains. However, until the return of Jesus Christ our King, I will find joy in the reassurance that He loves and sees beauty in the person I'm becoming while abiding in Him. The inward person. I will find approval and acceptance in the arms of a loving God whose unconditional love abounds despite my physical, emotional and spiritual flaws. He is making me truly, eternally beautiful through His wisdom and guidance using life's experiences along the way. A pure beauty. An eternal beauty. He is telling a story through me. What more could I possibly ask for....?!