"As a pastor's wife, I have spoken to many women through the years about their trials and temptations with beauty. From these conversations and my own experiences, I know that 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." ~ Carolyn Mahaney, Chapter 1
I have come to an end, my friends. By God's grace and gentle prodding on my heart and mind, I have reached my end and said, "I am exhausted of this life-dominating struggle with beauty, Lord. I want it to end." There have been times in my life previously when I thought I had reached this point, when truly I hadn't. I put the band-aids over the struggle and moved on. I didn't see my struggle with the mirror, my struggle with wanting to change so much about myself as the prideful, idolatrous, selfish struggle with sin that it had become. I moved on, continuing to believe the lies the Devil poured into my mind, comparing myself to my friends and other women, never feeling freedom. The struggle continued to feel like one of those cartoons where the victim is tied up in a rope with an anvil at the other end and they are starting to sink further down in the water, unable to pull free.
How thankful I am that we have a loving Father who does not leave us to ourselves! He graciously unties the knots in the rope and helps us to have hope, to see that there can be freedom from the sin. That hope, for whatever struggle it may be, is so beautiful and comforting.
I have struggled with various things about myself, but the most difficult one has been my skin. I don't have great skin. It has been up and down since I was a teenager. Stress levels affect it, hormones, food to some extent, all those daily life things. It has been my "beauty nemesis" so to speak. I have tried different things to help it. I have considered going on different diets, switched facial skin products many times, etc. And while there is nothing wrong with seeking to care for myself well and be wise with what goes on my skin, etc, the desire to "fix" it has become an enormous idol in my life. To be honest, in my mind, I have thought that if I could just solve this one nagging struggle, I'd be nearly-almost-totally good with myself. The problem there is that I have left Jesus, and what He tells me about myself and beauty, completely out of the equation; and when I leave it there, I won't ever have lasting peace, even if I had the most flawless skin you could imagine. The depths of my heart have to be changed. I must understand the TRUTH about beauty and bring my thinking, my struggles, and my care for myself under that umbrella.
"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." ~ Carolyn Mahaney, Chapter 1
When I read that sentence from Chapter 1 of True Beauty, my heart sang. As I said previously, the anthem of my life has been, for much too long, "if I could just solve this one nagging struggle, I'll be good." However, that actually wouldn't be the case. The beautiful hope, though, is that the gospel can solve this one nagging struggle......and every other one! In believing the truth about what God says about me and about beauty, I believe that my heart will be refreshed and even more joyful, and the lies of the Devil and the resulting struggles in front of the mirror will no longer hold weight over me.
So, my friends, I share all of this with you, for two reasons:
1. My heart and desire behind this little online space of mine has always been that it be a place of real, honest, everyday, vulnerable heart and life sharing. I would cherish your prayers for me in this way, and I would love to pray for any of you in the same. Having each other to walk with, learn from, and share the bits and pieces of our heart with is one of the greatest gifts.
2. I have been eager to read True Beauty and I would love if any of you would like to read it with me! My plan is that every other week I will do a little review about a chapter of the book and we can discuss it in the comments section, starting with Chapter 1 on July 1st. That way, if any of you would like to read along with me, this gives ya'll a couple of weeks before it takes off. I would truly love to have any of you share and study and discuss it with me! Here's a link to the book on Amazon.
I'll share this last excerpt from Chapter 1 with you guys before I sign off.....
"But God's Word is not outdated or shortsighted. Scripture doesn't fail to answer our questions or address our struggles. The Bible actually has a surprising amount to say about beauty. For instance, Scripture tells us that God delights in beauty --- a theme we will return to throughout the book. 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." ~ Carolyn Mahaney, Chapter 1
I'm eager to learn with you all, lovelies, and to know freedom from our little nagging struggles to our big life-dominating ones, that the mirror no longer send us spiraling down into a pit of self-loathing or discouragement, and to truly find our worth in our sweet Savior and in His true and liberating definition of beauty.