My entire life has been wrapped around a large longing: I want to be beautiful.
I want the blonde wavy hair. I want the sun kissed tan. I want the size 6 hourglass shape. I want to feel good about myself when I look in the mirror. I want to be beautiful.
I have spent thousands of hours of my life trying to obtain that goal. THOUSANDS. The way I eat. The way I put on my makeup. How I dress.
Can I tell you something? I am none of those things. So in those terms I have failed. In those terms, I shouldn’t be called beautiful.
And I feel it. Maybe that sounds super vain but I do. I feel the lack of beauty. And it feels like all of those years were a waste. This journey I’ve been on, this quest to be beautiful, was just a misuse of time.
My daughter is 4 years old. Every day, when I ask her how I should style her hair for her, she always responds back with a Disney princess idea so she will ask for “Cinderella bun” or “Anna braids” or a “Belle ponytail.” Then I will create her hair to the appropriate character and despite my lack of experience in locks, she always smiles and is quite pleased.
The other day I was in a rush so I didn’t even ask her how she wanted her hair. I quickly brushed it and just clipped part of it up. She stared in the mirror and frowned. “I don’t want my hair like that,” she said. “Why?” I responded. With little tears in her eyes, she looked at me and said, “Because it’s not beautiful.”
My heart was taken back. She’s 4. She understands beauty. And she’s already noticing what she doesn’t like about herself.
A few days later, I was watching a Pastor talk about how the church has become too effeminate. I don’t even want to link to it because it makes me angry. His comments weren’t degrading to the church as maybe he thought he was coming across. Instead he was saying words like “sissified” and “dainty” and “pastel colors”….. It wasn’t degrading to the church. It was degrading to women.
Hear me out: I LOVE PINK. I love tea parties. I love Downton Abbey. I love wearing dresses. I love that I can be moved to tears by just seeing a newborn baby or creation. Dainty isn’t a bad word.
When you link it to lack of strength or lack of courage, then I am upset.
I realize I have given you 3 random stories above but this is how I am tying it all together now….
-It was wrong of me to think my beauty only comes through appearance.
-It was eyeopening to see my little daughter already is searching for beauty in herself.
-It was fallacious for that preacher to equate effeminate to lack of strength.
Because here is where I am at today:
BRAVE IS BEAUTIFUL.
When I think of strong females in the Bible I think of Sarah who had a baby well past retirement age, of Rahab who courageously hid the spies, of Ruth who boldly went to Boaz and asked for a redeemer, of Esther who risked her life by begging the King to not kill her people, of Mary who was unmarried and carried a child in no shame because she knew He was a miracle, and of the women in the early church who helped spread the Gospel.
When I think of strong females in history I think of Joan of Arc who was burned for her faith, of the women abolitionists who were catalysts in fight against slavery, of Rosa Parks who refused to give up her seat on the bus, of Corrie Ten Boom who hid Jewish men and women and children from Nazi camps, of Anne Frank who hid for years in an attic and captured it in a journal for the world to see, and of Elisabeth Elliot who went back to the same Amazon tribe that killed her husband and stayed there as a missionary.
There are countless others I can mention….. Women who have endured torture, rape, and mistreatment. Women who have lost their loved ones and children. Women who have traveled worlds away for the sake of their new life.
These women were all amazing. Strong, brave, courageous… Their brave was beautiful.
And then I think of you and me in this modern age…. I don’t think it’s wrong to try to look for physical beauty at all. But can I tell you what I told my daughter the other day? “You are beautiful because you are YOU. It doesn’t matter what you look like. It doesn’t matter what you do. You are beautiful because of who you are. And who you are is brave and strong and kind.”
I want you to know the same thing – you are beautiful because of so many reasons but I don’t want you to forget this…. YOU ARE STRONG. YOU ARE BRAVE. And your brave is beautiful.
All these things that you are: your work, your family, your life, stems from the courageous desire to step out into your dreams, despite your obstacles, and boldly face the struggles that come your way… Even if you don’t feel like it, the fact you continue to persevere proves you are brave.
And your brave is beautiful.
Want to know something even more wonderful? Even if you don’t feel it, Christ makes you brave.
Look am I still going to try to wear makeup and workout and pick cute clothes? Of course. I love those things. But I am going to have a change in perspective. I have been through a lot. Especially the last year. But I made it through. I am still here. I am still having faith and trusting and believing and hoping. Maybe all the years I have spent striving for physical beauty has been a misuse of time; however, the time has made me stronger and renewed my faith. My faith is in the ONE who never changes and He has made me brave. And that brave is beautiful.
“Be strong and let your heart take courage, All you who hope in the LORD.” – Psalm 31:24