Chapter 1: True Beauty and Our Culture
I think I underlined/marked up over half of this first chapter! They just set such an excellent foundation for the book and for the whole picture of what, I think, is the basis for why we women struggle in this way; and the glorious thing is, we don't have to stay there!
I kind of broke up the chapter into 5 little "main points" (my OCD took over).
The Struggle: "....as women our beauty struggles can range from subtle and nagging to life-dominating. But to one degree or another, the issue of beauty presses in on all of us." (pg.15)
There is no woman who does not/has not/will not face this struggle in life. We live in a fallen world and in a culture that is beauty obsessed! We are surrounded by it, we are constantly comparing ourselves, we fight this battle. There have been so many times since AK was born that I have wished so hard that I could protect her from ever facing this struggle and I hate that she sees me struggle with it. I have to realize though that this struggle with beauty is present and will continue to rear its ugly head, and rather than just be constantly wishing it would go away I have to "arm myself" to fight against it and seek to prepare my sweet Little to do the same.
The (Unattainable) Worldly Standard: "...These images tell us what we are supposed to look like, and they present a standard of beauty so narrow in its ranger that most of us feel unattractive by comparison.......Not only do most of us lack the means to maintain our culture's ideal of beauty, in many cases the standard against which we are measuring ourselves isn't even real." (pgs. 15 & 16)
Yuck, yuck, yuck. And our culture is feeding us this stuff constantly, even in commercials that are supposed to be "helpful" and offer "answers", the underlying theme is clear: "We must have a perfectly proportioned figure, exquisite facial features, flawless skin, and be free from defects or disabilities -- not to mention that we must be young, or at least retains a youthful, healthy appearance." (pgs. 15 & 16)
The Reality: "....women still chase this unattainable standard of beauty with fury.....Women believe that beauty is essential to a happy life." (pg. 17)
It's true. As disheartening and discouraging and hopeless as the struggle to attain the worldly standard is, we still fight to reach it! I find myself seeing pictures of women on instagram, for instance, and thinking, "see!? She reached it! I can't imagine that she would ever struggle with anything! She"S's perfect!" and that ignites in me the desire to plow towards that standard -- forgetting what I know is true and once again buying into the lie! I begin doing exactly what our society has done -- "taken physical beauty and made it a god." (pg. 18) I idolize it, I chase after it, firmly sure that I will fiiinnnaalllllyyyy have self-confidence and never, ever struggle again.
The Enticement: "Physical beauty deceives us by appearing to keep some of its promises in the short term. It delivers just enough to keep us hooked, to lead us on in thinking that it is a worthwhile investment of all our hope, time, money, and energy." (pg. 20)
There will always be that enticement that we can gain that perfect image of physical beauty. By some cream, some diet, some lifestyle change, some wardrobe makeover, some....thing, we can hit that sweet spot. AND, the truth is, it may give us some temporary satisfaction or some extra boost of confidence, but it will not last......"it promises a lifetime of happiness that it cannot deliver." (pg. 20) That enticement always, always sounds so good, but is is fading.
However, HOORAY, as good as that enticement sounds it doesn't hold a candle to the hope that we have in Jesus to be free from this struggle.
The Hope | The Confidence | The Example: "Scripture shows us what true beauty is and how to become truly beautiful. Above all, Scripture reveals our beautiful Savior, who had "no beauty that we should desire him" (Isa. 53:2) but who hung bloodied on a cross for the ugliest of our sins. The gospel of Jesus Christ really does redeem everything, including beauty. It really does reach into the heart of "if only I could get this taken care of" and takes care of it. Our beauty crisis is no match for the truth of God's Word." (pg. 23)
I desire, so much, for my beauty crisis to be redeemed by the gospel. Up until this point I have band-aid-ed my struggle, not grasping or being honest with myself about the full reality of what I was struggling with, to what extent I was struggling with it, and what I was really believing in that struggle. And what a breath of fresh air the reminders of truth have been to my mind and heart as I've read this chapter! To be reminded that, "the Bible does not say physical beauty is bad or that it is sinful to make ourselves beautiful. Instead, it tells us how to make ourselves truly beautiful." (pg. 22). My beauty crisis has become an idol --- the thing that I want "fixed" has become what I am fixating on, and rather than combat that with truth I have given into the lies of the world I live in and begun believing that was truth. I just loved, in this chapter, that as I was so saddened at my own heart's tendency to echo the culture in this area, I was immediately encouraged and hopeful when I was reminded of what really is true! My Lord created me, He knows me, He knows my struggle, He loves me, and He desires to redeem this heart struggle and make me more like Himself. No better excitement than what comes on hearing that!
What stood out to you in this chapter? Where have you bought into the lies of our culture? Do you feel like you've ever truly understood "true beauty"? What encouraged you the most? What challenged you the most? What are the quotes from this chapter that you want to write out and remember? Do you feel more hopeful after being reminded of the unfading truth of Scripture? And anything else you want to ask, share, or add!
Let's start some conversation here, my friends! Share in the comments, read others comments, and we can chat back and forth!
And, know, sweet friends, I will be praying for each one of you! It is a joy and a privilege to have you share with me and to walk alongside you. I truly count it a gift.
"Only God's Word can promise a beauty as supernatural as it is satisfying, as attainable as it is lasting; a beauty that blesses and does not curse; a beauty that is precious, not worthless, that leads to happiness instead of heartache; a beauty that grows more becoming even as you become more beautiful."
"All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades.....but the word of our God will stand forever." Isaiah 40:6-8