I spent a lot of time by myself last week shopping boutiques trying on clothes to do a rehaul on my wardrobe. At the start of my college career I had my sights on New York with a Fashion Merchandising and Design degree and have always loved fashion. Everything I tried on last week I felt confident in, (jumpsuits! dresses! jeans! anything in mustard yellow or tangerine!). It may seem vain and materialistic but it truly is the Lord’s redemptive work on my heart.
There is nothing wrong with desiring to be beautiful and confident. But I have to process what my motive was behind buying new clothes; am I trying to fill a void or display God’s beauty in His redemptive work? Honestly, it is probably a bit of both. I told myself that real women of the Lord don’t need the perfect outfit (or make-up, hair etc.) to feel their best because our confidence is rooted in our Savior, not Sephora or Macy’s.
What I felt last week probably isn’t uncommon for women. As a whole, I bet each of us can look in the mirror or our closet and see things we want to change. We want to lose weight, or hide the wrinkles, fix the acne (why is adult acne even a thing?), wear something that hugs the right places and hides areas we want to fix. To have a struggle with your appearance is human and a result of the fall.
Eve walked in complete freedom for the first part of Genesis because there was no such thing as bondage. She was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) but when she chose to eat the fruit, darkness entered the world. My friend Shay’s favorite verse is Genesis 1:27 because that’s where it all starts; to know we are made in the image of God changes everything. Then one of my favorite passages of Scripture is a few chapters over. Her and Adam had eaten the forbidden fruit and were suddenly aware of their nakedness (Genesis 3:10-11). At that moment our outward appearance has made a huge impact on how we perceive ourselves and how we are perceived in society. God’s response may be one of the most important questions in Scripture. He simply asked “Who told you were naked?” Today the questions probably look a little more like this:
Who told you that you needed to lose weight?
Who told you that you weren’t beautiful?
Who told you you needed to cover blemishes with makeup?
And the questions go on.
God didn’t tell us any of those things, Satan the father of lies did. He does his best to make women question their looks and talents. He wants to reflect the broken world instead of the one Who binds up the brokenness. We can become so distracted by keeping up, we negate the need for a God Who says to be still. So easily we forget that we are created in God’s image. We can forget it when we step on a scale and see we’ve gained a few pounds, when acne shows up, or when the dark circles under our eyes grow darker. In those moments, our beauty still remains because of Who we reflect.
God’s Word makes it clear that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). No matter what we adorn our bodies with, we are made in the image of God. Pur beauty comes from the redemptive work of Christ. I have spent a lot of time researching Biblical Womanhood over the past few months I have pages of notes and scribbles and as I started to put my thought into words.
Then I started asking questions instead.
Why did this matter so much to me?
How does understanding this topic through Scripture effect how I live daily?
How will knowing this make me a better friend, daughter, teacher, leader, sister, aunt?
Then one morning I was praying through my day and I felt the Lord speak to me. He simply asked,
“How will you display My beauty in right now?”
In this search of Biblical Womanhood and beauty, this question has altered my thoughts. It is the question I take me through every hour. It changes the way I interact with myself, with my students and coworkers. Displaying God’s beauty will change the world. To be a beautiful woman today is to tell your story with passion that will magnify the beauty of Who Christ is and relish in how uniquely He has made us.
There are endless ways to truly reflect the beauty of Christ. It may be taking anxiety and depression to the Lord the moment it starts (Psalm 55:22) or pursuing the Lord’s calling against my comfort (Luke 9:23). It may be deciding to fight the urge to purge after a meal or eat when you want to skip a meal in order to treat your body like a temple instead of an idol (1 Corinthians 6:19). It’s letting the Holy Spirit convict and seeking the Lord’s forgiveness in sin. It may be leading when insurity shows up because His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9).
It is to emulate the Proverbs 31 woman, who reflect beauty by reflecting Christ and does work with excellence but provides beautiful fabric and is adorned well. We don’t focus on the Proverbs 31 woman and how she is dressed but who she reflects. It may be going to 1 Peter 3:4 and reminding ourselves that displaying God’s beauty is having a gentle and quiet spirit and is far more precious in the sight of the Lord. Our conduct in an appearance obsessed world is an extension of our heart (Matthew 15:18). To start each day asking how we can reflect the Lord’s beauty in the very next thing we do can can have an eternal impact.