What or who defines beauty to you?
It seems my whole life I have struggled to grasp the definition of beauty. I knew what I believed to be beautiful, but that didn’t always match up with reality. Thus, and internal struggle would wage whether real life or my expectations were beautiful.
- I am short with curly (frizzy) blonde hair. If I could choose my appearance, based on how I define “pretty,” I would be tall and thin with thick, straight hair that is either jet black or auburn.
- I have always considered the most beautiful love stories to be the couples who married their first loves. And while I did marry my first love, I have struggled to embrace not being my husband’s first love.
- I falsely assumed great couples never argued, so I was disappointed when I found myself in a marriage that did have conflict.
- Having a baby should be the most exciting time, but years infertility and miscarriage tainted what was supposed to have been beautiful.
Currently, I’m struggling to find the beauty in Jason’s work schedule.
He works in an emergency room, and the trouble with that is that the ER never closes. Every moment of every day it constantly needs to be staffed. This means my husband works odd hours including many holidays and weekends. He may be home for dinner one night, but the rest of the week he is only home for a few hours in the morning. His shifts often end after I’m asleep or begin before I’m awake. And while I can call him at work, he is often too busy to talk for very long. He can’t commit to a Bible study or small group that meets weekly because he never gets the same days off each week. And more often than not, when he’s not working he is sleeping and recovering more than actively engaging in our daily happenings.
I’m trying hard not to sound like a complainer, but sometimes it’s hard. Just as with all the examples above, I am once again finding myself turning to God, begging Him to change my perception of beautiful. Can a couple that keeps odd hours be just as beautiful as the couple who goes to bed at the same time every night? Can we have as in-depth conversations as the couple who gets several uninterrupted hours together at the end of every day?
My friend Courtney Westlake refers to taming these insecurities as embracing “a different beautiful.”
She knows first hand that sometimes life gives you the opposite of what you imagined. Happily married with a young son and daughter on the way, Courtney was living what appeared to be a beautiful and blessed life. However, her predictable life was shattered when her daughter, Brenna, was born with a very rare and life-threatening condition called Harlequin Ichthyosis. In her new book, A Different Beautiful, Courtney candidly shares the struggle of learning to love a life that looks different that what she would have planned for herself.
I love this book and highly recommend it to everyone because while her story is personal, the emotions are universal. I couldn’t stop crying and celebrating God for what He has already accomplished through Brenna’s sweet little life. And, it didn’t take long to connect the dots and realize I should likewise be celebrating God for working through my life, even if it is different from what I imaged.
Discovering a different beautiful in our lives is a mind-set we practice with each experience and person we meet and connect with, but for full transformation, it comes from a change — sometimes a very gradual change– within our hearts, as we allow God to work in us and through us… from the inside out. ~ Courtney Westlake, A Different Beautiful
The question isn’t what beauty is, but rather Who defines Beauty?
Society? Expectations? God?
The truth is that sometimes what we define as beautiful is actually anti-Scriptural. A Different Beautiful encouraged me to combat my pity-party mentality about Jason’s work schedule and instead cling to the truth found in God’s Word. After all, Isaiah 40:8 tells us that the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever. There is no better way to end this post than simply dwelling on the words of the One who defines beauty.
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. ~ 1 Peter 3:3-4
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” ~ 1 Samuel 16:7
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. ~ Psalm 139:14
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:16
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. ~ Romans 8:28
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ~ Jeremiah 29:11
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. ~ Ephesians 2:10
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. ~ Genesis 50:20
“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. ~ Isaiah 1:18
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. ~ Ecclesiastes 3:11
Who defines beauty to you? Have you ever experienced God giving you a different beautiful?
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