by Gwen Ford Faulkenberry
Your beauty should come from within you – the beauty…that will never be destroyed and is very precious to God.
I Peter 3:4 NCV
As young women, we are bombarded with many definitions of beauty. In popular culture as well as many Christian circles, it seems that beauty is sometimes defined by ideals we may either choose to reject outright or aspire to – but are never able to reach. But we’re real women and we need a real, attainable idea of beauty.
If we are to take seriously what Peter is telling us in the above verse, that our beauty “should come from within,” then it seems worth exploring just what real beauty is. Or what it can be.
First and foremost, a beautiful life is a life of the Spirit. The scripture above is from the New Century Version of the Bible, but I also like how the King James puts it: “Let [your beauty] be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible.” That concept of the “hidden man of the heart” speaks to me. And aren’t we all looking for beauty that’s not corruptible – the kind you don’t have to patch with Botox shots?
The hidden man of the heart – our hope for lasting beauty – is the Holy Spirit of God. It is by the Spirit, through the Spirit and in the Spirit that our hearts and therefore our lives can be transformed into something eternally, breathtakingly beautiful.
What exactly does that mean though? I believe Christian women can almost become as confused about the issue of beauty by listening to the messages from the pulpit and Christian media as we can by listening to the world. Inner beauty, a beauty that lasts, a life lived in the Spirit – it all sound so good – but for some of us, these ideas seem just as unattainable as a size 3 body or the perfect color of hair. We may decide to approach them like we do a career or a college degree – something to work for, a personal ambition in which we hope to someday achieve excellence. But beauty is attainable in the present, if we understand it correctly.
My friend Char tells a story about how she began to live a life of beauty – a life of the Spirit. She was in college and at her school, students had to work to pay for their tuition. One day she was at work and her boss, who was also her professor, asked the group not to chat while they were working. He left the room, and they almost immediately started to talk.
That evening, Char felt convicted that she had been wrong to disobey her boss by talking while he was gone. She decided to go to him and apologize. Expecting to be reprimanded for her misconduct, Char was very surprised when the professor looked at her, smiled and said, “I’m glad you’ve learned to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit.” And that was it.
In many ways, that is it. A life of the Spirit isn’t some huge thing that happens to us all at once. We can’t get a “spiritual makeover” or earn a Bible degree that suddenly makes us beautiful in the Spirit. It’s an inner work of God that takes place when we say yes to His leading, moment by moment, one day at a time. Say “yes” to God’s leading. Invite Him to work in your heart to transform your life into something beautiful.
Excerpted with permission from A Beautiful Life: Devotions for a Woman’s Heart by Gwen Ford Faulkenberry © 2008