I believe that the adage is true, beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. While some people find a home decorated with rich brocades and gilded accent pieces beautiful, I prefer rustic wood floors and simple bouquets plopped in aqua blue canning jars. When it comes to the opposite sex, some of us are attracted to those who are tall, dark and handsome. Some of us prefer blonde, blue eyed Scandinavians. Me, I'm married to a short, stocky Scotsman with blue, blue eyes and great big dimples when he laughs.
I think what we all can agree on is that we really do want to live a life filled with beauty. Seriously, does anyone set out to live an ugly, miserable life? What a beauty-full life looks like specifically can be hard to define. But I'd like to share some ideas that I think might be helpful and encouraging if you want a more beauty-full life.
1) Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in you.
A retired missionary lady taught the first grown up ladies' Bible study I ever went to. I was a young twenty something and she was an older seventy something. I saw the beauty of Jesus in her and fell in love with the beauty of God's Word because of her. She's the one who first introduced me to this old hymn, and I've never forgotten these words.
Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me,
All His wonderful passion and purity;
O Thou Spirit divine, May I truly be Thine
Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.
Let my wonderful Saviour be seen in me,
His amazing compassion and constancy;
His great love is my goal, By His Spirit’s control
Till me wonderful Saviour be seen in me.
Let the fruit of the Spirit be seen in me,
Grant me grace all sufficient that I may be
True and faithful each day, Ev’ry step of the way.
Pointing souls to the Saviour on Calvary.
~ Lyrics by Tom M. Jones
Jesus is the All Together Lovely One. It's only as we seek Him, spend time with Him, let Him transform us more and more into His own image, that we will truly be filled with true beauty.
2) Let your own unique beauty shine through.
Have you ever wasted your time trying to look like, be like, act like someone else? I sure have. It's an effort in frustration and futility isn't it? God created only one you, and His beauty can't flow through you unhindered when you're trying to be someone else. You are a unique vessel created to display the rich treasure of God's power in your own unique way. Trying to be someone else really is equivalent to hiding your light under a bushel.
3) You can't be beauty-full and bitter-full at the same time.
It's miserable to be miserable. It's no fun being full of anger, rage, bitterness, and unforgiveness. Been there. Done that. It's so freeing to LET IT GO! The good news is, that when we let go of our unforgiveness towards others, it actually frees God's hands up to deal with them. Holding on to our bitterness is us wanting to fix them and the situation ourselves. It's us standing between them and God and telling Him how He should fix them. Choosing to forgive and to release others doesn't mean we think they're right, doesn't mean we have to trust them again, what it does mean is that we are choosing to trust God in the situation. We are trusting His judgement and His ability to deal with people or situations or circumstances in His way and in His timing.
4) Beauty is about quality not quantity.
One autumn I dug out every single fall decoration I owned and went to town displaying all of it. I look back now and realize that it looked like a riot of orange exploded in my living room. One simple earthenware crock with some branches of fall leaves artfully displayed would have actually made a bigger impact.
Similarly, a few quality wardrobe pieces with tasteful accessories are much better than a closet full of cheaply made clothes that are ill fitting.
I think these general principles apply to our life as a whole. How much of my life is wasted in a pursuit of too many and too much? I can either have a broad and shallow life, stretching myself too thin as I seek to do more and have more, or I can choose a deeper and more focused life. Let's face it, flowers are showy and lovely to look at for a short time, but a deeply rooted tree is a thing of beauty for years, even centuries. A tree can also be a place of shade and refreshing for others. I want to choose a life of quality, a deeply rooted life.
5) True beauty isn't defined my this world.
I like to get my nails done professionally, french tips and all. I have a beautiful wedding ring that my husband surprised me with on our twenty fifth anniversary. I wear gold bands on the thumb and ring finger of my right hand. At this point in life, my hands are still relatively attractive, but not as smooth and unwrinkled, or with as long and lovely fingers, as my thirty one year old daughter's. When I think of beauty-full hands, however, I think of my mama's hands. Mama's hands were twisted and swollen with arthritis in her old age, so they weren't beautiful to look at. But Mama, whose love language was acts of service, showed us kids that she loved us with those hands. She baked the best bread ever with those hands, kneading it until it was as smooth as a baby's bottom before patting it and putting it in loaf pans for baking. She sewed my wedding dress with those hands, spreading sheets out on the floor so the fabric wouldn't drag on the floor as she bent over her sewing machine to work on it. Beauty-full hands are hands that love and serve others.
This world defines beauty in such a convoluted way. It's me focused. It's the worship of self. But, in all honesty, isn't a beauty-full life one lived for a cause bigger than self?
I love the contrast of these two photos of Audrey Hepburn. Arguably, she was one of the most beautiful women in the world. But when was she the most beauty-full? To me, it is seen in this photo of the older Audrey Hepburn, living her life for the purpose she believes she was created for. Personally, I feel the most ugly when I'm being self-focused and self-absorbed. I feel the most beauty-full, the most me, the most free, when I'm operating in the gifts and callings that God has placed in my life and living for His purposes.
6) Gratitude is beauty-full.
If I've said it once, I've said it dozens of times. Gratitude is life-changing. Ingratitude is life maiming. Once you choose to see the blessings of God in your life instead of focusing on the things you are unhappy about, you become a happier and more beauty-full person.
7) Be a good steward of what God gives you.
God has given me one life to life on this earth and one body to live it in. It isn't selfish to choose wisely how you spend the time God has given you, or to care for the body God has given you. God created us with a body, soul and spirit. The way we treat our body affects the way we feel in our mind, will and emotions. I may not look the same as I did when I was 35, but I can still be the best version of almost 57 year old me possible. In other words, how I care for my body matters. It's the only one I've got. I feel so much better when I eat right, drink lots of water, and get some sort of exercise! I feel grumpy and out of sorts and lethargic when I don't. And that's not very beauty-full or fun to live with!
8) Spend some time in the beauty of God's creation.
God wants us to enjoy this life He has given us and the beauty He created. The beauty of creation ministers to and refreshes our spirit. The ugliness of this sin scarred world can be overwhelming. Sometimes we need to shift our focus to the Creator. Appreciating the beauty of His creation always helps me to do that.
Living a beauty-full life is possible for anyone and everyone. It's a lot less dependent on the physical attributes you were born with than you think. It's more about what you choose to do with and how you choose to spend this life God has given you. Here's to you and your one life! I pray you will choose to live it to its beauty-fullest!
Also joining THOUGHT PROVOKING THURSDAYS
at 3-D Lessons for Life
Kelli at CHRONICLES OF GRACE