Twenty years ago there was a seventeen year old girl who frequently attended the aerobics classes I taught at a small gym in Tomball, Texas. She wasn’t the kind of girl you would ever see on the cover of a fashion magazine. As a trainer who’s taught classes at gyms for many years, I regularly see women and girls whose bodies and faces are perfect by our cultural standards. The girl I’m talking about here wasn’t the prettiest one in the hundreds of those who took my classes over a long period of time. I’ve long forgotten many people, but SHE stood out in the sea of faces, and I remember her to this day because of her ready smile, her gentle confidence and deep sincerity, the genuine interest she took in the lives of those around her, and most of all – the true LOVE and JOY that she radiated in her world. She was truly beautiful.
One day just like any other, she took my aerobics class. And the next day I learned the horrible news that she was killed in a car crash after being hit by a drunk driver. This life on earth is fragile gift. A shimmering vapor that is here today and gone tomorrow. And even though this girl’s life on earth tragically and abruptly ended, her beauty has not faded, but instead it lives on.
So what does any of this have to do with a healthy body image? I believe it has EVERYTHING to do with the way we perceive beauty. You see, our society’s definition of beauty is temporary. It’s something that fades with time, and in some circumstances it is snatched away in an instant. Time wrinkles perfect skin, and burns bring scars. The strength and vitality of a “perfect” body fade with the years, and horrific accidents can break our nervous system causing a beautifully functioning body to become useless and paralyzed in an accident. You could be named the world’s most beautiful woman, and be disfigured by tragedy the next. The kind of beauty we see around ourselves from day to day us is temporary.
But here’s something that never changes: The Word of God. And that’s why His definition of beauty is the only one that is trustworthy and true. It’s the standard of beauty we should set for ourselves, and it should dictate the way we perceive others.
You see, God’s Word says that “people look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” And it tells us “the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” It’s important to understand beauty through the lens of eternity.
What is eternity? I love Jenn Arman’s explanation on Project Inspired.
An eternal perspective is one that views a much larger picture than the one we see in our time-oriented lives. Having an eternal perspective helps us to focus on things that transcend time like God, grace, mercy, love, faith and hope, instead of losing ourselves in our circumstances. An eternal perspective also assures us that God has a reason for the things He does, the things He allows and the answers He gives, even if we never understand the reason in our “time.”
True beauty is defined by what is inside. An “unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” Earthly charm and beauty fade away, but a woman who loves and worships Jesus as the Lord of her life will be highly esteemed and praised! True beauty not only stands the test of time, but the test of eternity. It will never, ever fade away. It’s an eternal legacy.
Dear daughter of mine, no matter what this crazy, upside-down and messed-up world tells you – no matter what the magazine covers & commercials say to you – no matter what famous Tumblr girls, popular YouTube channelers or your Instagram stream shows you – no matter what a boy tries to whisper in your ear or your so called friends may try to convince you of, the only thing that matters is what God says about you. And no matter what anyone tries to tell you, know this: as a daughter of the King you can stand firm on the truth and firm foundation of His Word. You are beautiful, you are loved, you are perfectly and wonderfully made, you are of great worth and value, and God has designed an incredible plan for your life.
~ Justina Dee
This is the third of seven posts I’m sharing with my eleven year old daughter who is navigating the rocky waters of self esteem. You can find the first post here: 10 Things That Make You My Beautiful Girl
Focus On the Family post: What the Bible Says About Beauty and Appearance