I have had a blog post on my mind for quite some time now. However, I never quite knew how to put my thoughts to paper. It all started following a couple conversations I had with some ladies. One of them was set to meet someone’s parents. Of course, she was a little nervous. I mean, who wouldn’t be?
I empathized with her. I remember the fret I felt right before I met my now in-laws. I am not the best at meeting new people, let alone those who raised the man I love. I spent weeks being torn over them accepting me. I so badly wanted them to like me, just like this individual.
She was most worried about meeting the mother of the pair. She said she has never had trouble with someone’s dad liking her because dads have two qualifications to appreciate a woman: If she can cook and looks pretty, they will like her. I reiterated to her, “Well, isn’t it important for the woman to have a kind heart?” Her response, “Oh no, girl. That’s not important, just as long as you can cook and are pretty.”
As you can imagine, the conversation did not sit right with me. I was determined to know what God had to say about a woman’s beauty and her value. My heart breaks every time I reflect on the discussion. It made my heart break for two reasons. First of all, it is not biblical. Regardless of one’s heritage or upbringing, no woman should be told that a person, let alone a man, will only appreciate her if she is a domesticated beauty. God did not make women to simply nourish a man and be a trophy of beauty.
Women are designed as helpers and encouragers, as shown in 1 Peter 3:1, “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives.” A man who may struggle to be gracious or respectful about a person or situation should be able to look at his wife and be encouraged by her behavior without her ever saying a word. I can tell you that is easier said than done.
As difficult as it may be, I consider it a tremendous gift to be my husband’s lifelong encourager. It’s sweet and remarkable to know God designed me to be the Jesus in his life. For example, we are going through quite a difficult situation, and though there are times when I want to be flat out angry and explode, I choose not to. I do so because it is the call the Lord has for my gentle and quiet spirit and it is the call as my husband’s helper. I will admit, though, I have had an angry burst about the situation at hand a couple times. I am still learning what it truly means to be a gentle and quiet spirit. By the grace of God, I will continue to reflect Him in all I say and do.
Second, it broke my heart because it sheds light on how broken this world is. Even as a woman in Christ, I have trouble with body image and beauty, especially in my high school and early college years. I have never seen a people or place reject and contradict God’s Word as much as the world. When I see women yearn to be called beautiful and accepted via a social media platform or broken relationship, it breaks my heart. I know from experience how degrading and miserable that path is. I used to be that girl.
I may be wrong in saying this, but there is nothing wrong with wanting to be loved and accepted by other’s (coming from a recovering acceptance fanatic). There is nothing wrong with wanting to look nice and take of yourself either! God does not completely shatter His desire for women to dress up and beautify themselves, as shown in 1 Peter 3:3, “Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses.” He simply says it is not merely about how we look on the outside. If God did not want women to have the desire in their hearts to adorn themselves, he wouldn’t have put it in our hearts in the first place. The two verses go hand-in-hand, much like the fine line that becomes fuzzy when desired acceptance transforms into validation and worth.
The pair of verses, let alone the whole passage, is a warning sign and encouragement for women all in one. Isn’t that pretty incredible? The passage is a warning because it proclaims outward beauty is not everything. God does not care about our outward beauty. He cares about the spirit inside of us! The passage is encouraging because God allows us to adorn ourselves and love ourselves in WHO HE MADE US TO BE as Daughters of the King.
Look, I know my words may ramble on and not make sense, and I’m okay with that. I am still trying to figure all of this out myself. It’s a hefty topic clothed in dainty flowers, much like some of the struggles women face. I pray that these words may be an encouragement to men and women. This battle within a woman’s spirit is not hers alone.
I challenge everyone in this: Men, encourage women and live outside of human nature’s standards. Show them there are Godly gentlemen out there whose intent and purpose in knowing her is strengthening her as a woman in Christ. Instead of complimenting her appearance, compliment her heart. Women, cling to Christ. He knows exactly what you are going through. He knew full well we would have this struggle as shown in 1 Samuel 16:7, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Be encouraged to know God created you to be a woman of heartfelt beauty and sweet grace.