Beauty

From the Archives: Mirror, Mirror

A post on beauty and vanity as something more than a reason to be pitied or a Bible study topic.

Originally published: 2/24/17




You’re beautiful. (Or handsome – girls aren’t the only ones who struggle with their looks) The problem is, it can be hard for you to see that. You know that one friend of yours is prettier and that other one wears nicer clothes. So, if you’re not up to that standard yet, how could you even consider yourself beautiful?

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. – Proverbs 31:30

We’ve all heard the verse. Every time the topic of beauty comes up, someone reminds us that it isn’t all there is to this life. Of course we know that. So why are we still so concerned with our looks?

I’m writing this for me as much as anybody else because this is something I’ve struggled with for a long time. I envy the girl that hasn’t. Why shouldn’t I do what I can to become prettier? It would make me feel better and I want to look good to the people around me.

Hm. I want to look good to the people around me.

Since when has that been the right reason to do anything? We all know this, too. Don’t change yourself for other people. But we still want to.

If we know all these things, why do we still want so badly to be beautiful (or at least reach the point where we consider ourselves beautiful)? We know it’s deceitful and vain and we know that we shouldn’t be trying to impress other people with our looks. But we still want to.

It all comes down to sin. (Doesn’t everything?)

Vanity is not okay. Vanity is nothing more than pride – it’s caring about what other people think about our looks. In most cases, vanity is also dissatisfaction with the bodies God’s given us. We wish we had bigger eyes, clearer skin, straight hair. Then we would be pretty enough.

I was recently given a prayer journal and told to write in it every day. It’s helping me to grow in my prayer life and, I think, my relationship with God. Which means it’s made me realize some things about myself that I’m not too happy about. One of those is my vanity. I wrote out a prayer asking God to take it from me. I really wanted it to just disappear. Then about a week later (when my pride hadn’t just vanished), I wrote out a different prayer. This was one of confession.

Because vanity is a sin, we can’t just act like it’s only a problem common to teenage girls and it’s not really a big deal or just something we should be pitied for. It is a big deal. We are telling God that we are not satisfied with the bodies he lovingly crafted for us; that we would rather humans think us beautiful than our Maker. And that’s wrong.

At the same time though, vanity doesn’t just disappear into thin air, never to be seen again. We can want it to, but it’s a process. We don’t grow all at once.

So while we’re all growing together, let’s all remember together that we are beautiful in God’s eyes. Cheesy? Maybe. But you know it’s true. And you know that charm is deceitful and you know you don’t have to make yourself look different for other people. Our bodies are for honoring God, not gaining attention.

Mirror mirror, mirror on the wall

Telling those lies, pointing out your flaws

That isn’t who you are, that isn’t who you are.

It might be hard to hear but let me tell you dear

If you could see what I could see I know you would believe

That isn’t who you are, there’s more to who you are!

…I see you dressed in white, every wrong made right.

I see a rose in bloom at the sight of you, oh so priceless!

Irreplaceable, unmistakable, incomparable,

Darling it’s beautiful. I see it all in you

Oh so priceless!

– “Priceless” For King and Country

(and no spoilers – I haven’t seen the movie yet 🙂 )

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

See you later, beautiful.

Kira

How does vanity get in the way of your life? What can you replace it with?

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Setting the Example in Self-Image

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Countless articles promote the idea that you are beautiful just the way you are. “Be satisfied with the body God gave you.” “Love yourself.” “It’s what’s on the inside that counts.”

There are studies of the psychological benefits of being happy with yourself, statistics about how many people aren’t, and expositions on how to be content. But I believe they all miss a very important point: the effect your self-image has on other people.

A few days ago, my four year old sister was playing in my room and randomly started doing all the stretches and exercises she knew. I smiled at her pushups and the way she flicked her hair out of her face with a serious expression. But my smile disappeared when she told me that she was doing it so that she could have a “little tummy.”

This girl doesn’t have an ounce of fat on her body, but she decided that she needed to exercise so that she could look better. That her tummy wasn’t little enough. What on earth possessed her to think that?

There are, of course, the TV shows, toys, and ads to point to. She was born into a world that teaches her to look a certain way – to get there however she can.

But what about the people around her?

I would like to propose the idea that when you show contempt for your body and appearance, it has a real effect on those around you. How many times has my sister seen me look in the mirror and say it’ll have to do for the day? It’s obviously stuck with her.

The way we look at ourselves says a lot about who we are and other people pick up on that. When a girl that you think is especially pretty complains about the way she looks, your heart falls a bit. If she isn’t good enough, how could you ever be?

1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to “encourage one another and build one another up.” It’s not encouraging to lead someone into discontent with how they look.

I’m especially speaking to those of us with younger siblings. Part of our job is to set the example for them in godliness. They do follow us, whether we realize it or not. They look up to us and want to be like us, and we must turn that to their benefit. It pained me to hear my sister talking about why she wanted to exercise. I don’t want her to think that way about herself. But that way of thinking is a direct reflection of the people she is around, including me.

How do you want your friends, siblings, peers to view themselves? Set an example in that, not in dissatisfaction and unhappiness. Encourage them and build them up by having a healthy view of yourself. They’ll catch on.

Kira

How do you lead people to see themselves in a godly way? What’s the hardest part about it?