My daughter Jasper is three years old. To her father, three brothers, and me, she is the most beautiful girl in the world. I still find myself staring at her like I used to when I held her in my arms as an infant, admiring how perfectly God designed her. Every single day, in some way, I affirm her beauty. I tell her that she’s beautiful so much that instead of saying, “Thank you,” she nods her head and says, “I know!” It’s the cutest and funniest thing! But that’s exactly the confidence I want her to have. I never want her to question her beauty or search for it in the wrong places like I did.
I never had anyone to tell me anything about being beautiful. No one ever told me I was pretty, unless it was a boy trying to get something from me. I thought beauty was all about how you looked and dressed, and how much people liked you. If that was the case, I totally missed the mark, because I was a chocolate girl with nappy hair whose grandma could not afford the latest fashions on her fixed income.
According to the standard, I was not the pretty girl. And that stuck with me throughout my life. I had the hardest time measuring up to looking the part and my search for validation only led me into things that made me feel anything but beautiful.
It took me developing a relationship with Jesus and learning through God’s word the true definition of beauty, and there was so much more to it than what my eyes could see.
Beauty is not a look; it is a state of being. There's so much more to you than what meets the eye, and when you size yourself up according to what you see when you look in the mirror, you miss the total picture of the beauty you truly possess.
The mirror hanging on your wall cannot be trusted to tell you the truth about how beautiful you are. It will tell you you're fat, you're ugly, and you don't look like those perfect women on Instagram. It will make you believe you're too much of this and not of enough of that; that you need to change your hair, do more with your makeup, and alter your wardrobe. It will destroy your self-esteem.
It’s hard nowadays to turn on the television or look on even scroll through your timeline and see a woman who looks like you. Many of them are airbrushed to resemble perfect beauty defined by the close-mindedness of media and social culture. She has the perfect body, perfect teeth, perfect hair, and perfect fashion, so when you size yourself next to her, all you are able to see are your imperfections, because they don’t match the beauty she represents. But who ever set a specific standard to beauty? Who ever said you must be this size, have this hair, and look this way to be considered beautiful? It’s all a lie. True beauty is not indicative upon how you look, but upon the makeup of who you are.
Why do we, as God's daughters, try to measure our beauty based upon worldly standards? Why do we put unnecessary pressure on ourselves to look like what the world deems beautiful? And when we don't fit its standard, why do we feel like something is wrong with us?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with you. You are not supposed to look like the woman that media prefers. You are a unique being, created in the image of the Almighty God. Attempting to look like anything other than Him is a downgrade to your true beauty.
When is the last time you looked in the mirror and admired how beautiful you are? No, I'm not talking about the mirror that hangs on your wall. Neither am I referring to your hair or your hips, your curves or cute clothes, your bust or your butt.
The mirror that I speak of is GOD, because it was in His image that you were created. The reflection you see when you stand face-to-face with yourself should be His, not the superficial definition of beauty that is constantly shoved in your face. You see, the thing that makes you beautiful cannot be purchased from a shelf. It's not in the makeup you purchase from the store, but in the divine makeup in which you were created by The Man above. It's not in the clothes you wear, but in the work of the cross Jesus had to bear. It's not in the lashes you place upon your eyes, but in the lashes that were placed upon Jesus' body on your behalf. It's not even in those red bottoms, but in the red blood that was shed just for you.
Now, don't get me wrong; there's absolutely nothing wrong with being fly and fabulous. It’s just not where your true beauty lies.
Your beauty has nothing to do with your childhood history. It's not connected to the abuse you suffered or to who never showed you love. It's not at all contingent upon how much your family failed to love you or the rejection you faced from your peers. It's not even about the number of men you've had sex with or any of the sexual experiences you’ve had. Neither is your beauty indicative upon how many men lust after you or the number of likes connected to your social media pictures. And it's not about how well you "twerk", or "werk" overtly revealing clothes.
Here's the truth.
Long before your parents ever even met, God knew you. Before you were ever a tiny little fetus growing in your mother's womb, God chose you. Before your heart ever made its first beat, God loved you. Before the foundation of the world, He gave you purpose.
He formed you - even your innermost parts - in His perfect image and to His liking. He shaped you perfectly for the purpose in which He created you. He laid out every detail of your life - even those things that you hate about yourself - and, by His hands, made you His masterpiece. You are the apple of His eye.
You are beautiful because you were created in the Spirit of a beautiful God. You are beautiful because you are a daughter of royalty. You are beautiful because God loved you SO much that He sacrificed His son just for you. You are beautiful because God has good plans for your life.
When is the last time you looked at yourself through God's eyes to see your true beauty?
All of those things that society says makes a woman beautiful can only mildly enhance the exterior of what is already perfectly made. It is what God placed within you that displays your true beauty.
You don't have to display a certain level of sexy, when God has created you to be holy.
You don't have to wear certain clothes, when God has clothed you in righteousness.
You don't need compliments, when God gives you love without conditions.
Clothes, shoes, makeup, all of that is great. The problem is that those things can be stripped away, and with it, take your store-bought beauty. But when it comes to the beauty that was placed upon and within you by God, nothing and no one can take it away from you.
Take the stress and pressure off of yourself and know this -- Your beauty is intricately wrapped in the divine design of your creation. It is in the combination of splendid qualities placed within you by the hands of The Heavenly Father before He formed you in your mother’s womb. You are God’s workmanship, His masterpiece, and everything He creates is lovely. His image sets the standard for your beauty, and His image is perfectly beautiful; therefore, so are you.
Fashion yourself after the Spirit of the Lord and clothe yourself in holiness, righteousness, love, peace, and joy. Adorn yourself with a life of worship and prayer. Measure yourself next to the Word of God, and in those areas where you don't quite line up, ask for His grace and strength to alter what is necessary.
You're already beautiful. No mirror, or any of those Housewives and Instagram models can define that; only God.
One of my favorite definitions of beauty is found in 1 Peter 3:3-4. It says, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
Embrace THAT beauty.