Friday, September 9, 2011

"Beauty." Why is it an ugly word?

Driving eastward on interstate twenty-four through Tennessee, stands a mountain waiting to be crossed. It's the only straight shot from the music city of Nashville to the valley of Chattanooga. And it is a glorious one! From the top begins the descent with twists and turns and runaway truck paths off to the left in case one loses control on the steep grade. Jagged rock walls stand guard on one side, while tall trees border the other. All of a sudden, as the last tight corner throws its curve, the curtains are thrown back to reveal a mass landscape of flowing hills, mountain peaks, and deep valleys below.

In autumn (my favorite time to pass through there), cascading colors of deep reds, bright oranges and yellows flow for miles down one mountainside and up another, dancing through patches of evergreens. All to a backdrop of crisp blue sky scattered with wispy white clouds. Awing tears wash the eyes at the beauty and lavishness of God's goodness. It sucks the breath right out of the lungs in a deep inhale of the soul. With the exhale, all troubles and perils seem to dissipate for that moment. And the soul rests.
“Beauty may be the most powerful thing on earth. Beauty speaks. Beauty invites. Beauty nourishes. Beauty comforts. Beauty inspires. Beauty is transcendent. Beauty draws us to God. As Simone Weil writes, ‘The beauty of the world is almost the only way by which we can allow God to penetrate us…Beauty captivates the senses in order to obtain permission to pass straight through to the soul…The soul’s inclination to love beauty is the trap God most frequently uses in order to win it.’

God has given this Beauty to Eve, to every woman. Beauty is core to a woman—who she is and what she longs to be—and one of the most glorious ways we bear the image of God in a broken and often ugly world. It’s messy to talk about. It’s mysterious. And that should not surprise us. Women are creatures of great mystery; not problems to be solved but mysteries to be enjoyed. And that, too, is part of her glory.”
(Eldredge, Captivating pp. 133-134, underlining mine)

If this is true, then why has “beauty” become such an ugly word to most of us as women?

We've all heard the saying, "beauty is only skin deep." So we trump that with, "real beauty is from within!" But if we're honest, we don't really believe it for ourselves. Often, a woman despises the demand for beauty. Mostly because it has been mishandled, assaulted and abused, tossed aside, and trampled over. Our world has scared it (true beauty) into hiding with its insatiable appetite and gross advertisement for the physical.

Eldredge further writes that "beauty is the most essential, and yes, the most misunderstood of all the feminine qualities...that it is an essence every woman carries from the moment of her creation. The only things standing in the way of our beauty are our doubts and fears, and the hiding and striving we fall to as a result."

To Be Continued...

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