Thursday, September 15, 2011

Beauty: The Invitation

Continued From Previous Post...

"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." (Captivating)

The woman in hiding:
Remember Toula in the movie, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"?  In the beginning she wore frumpy, baggy, drab-colored clothing that hid any semblance of her figure as a woman. Her hair was just as mousy and her dark eyes downcast behind large framed glasses. Toula worked in her father's Greek restaurant. Though she secretly dreamed of greater things, her father didn't approve. So she remained hardly noticed by those around her, and faded into the background of mere hopeless daily existence.

The striving woman:
Margaret is a high-powered book editor in the hit movie, "The Proposal". Her extra slender frame boasts of her need to exercise religiously, and she works around the clock, even over weekends and while pounding the treadmill. Before she arrives at the office each day, it is teeming with laughter and conversation scattered all across the room. Upon her entrance, one man types the warning on the computer screen to everyone, "the witch is on her broom," and the happy chatter abruptly ceases as workers rush quietly, and hopefully unnoticed, to their respective cubicles. There is no time for play around her; hunker down and get busy. Sure, Margaret's appearance and success are nearly perfect, but they feel forced and contingent upon factors from the outside.

These examples of the hiding and striving woman may be a bit extreme for some of us. Nonetheless, she exists. We see her every day. Maybe in our own mirror. For many of us, we are less extreme than the images of Toula and Margaret, and often an odd mixture of both (as I have been). But no matter, we are hiding and/or striving just the same. And it is soul-killing to us and to those around us.

We strive to look our best with just the right makeup and the latest trendy clothes (I'm not knocking them! Wearing them as I type!) Don't forget the latest diet craze and exercise routines. We hide in the kitchen, behind our books, our office, or mounds of laundry. Women are busy at work, often avoiding eye contact and intimate/vulnerable conversation, or feeding our constant need for control.

It all seems legit, right? I mean, after all, the laundry does have to be folded, and, shouldn't we always look our best? Office work cannot be ignored, and hey, we all need a break with a book or something, right? Yes, and No. What the world, the men in our lives, our children, family, and friends need from us most is our heart.

The excerpt below is taken from an experience John and Stasi Eldredge had several years ago with a woman of deep beauty.

“June is one of the most beautiful women we have ever met. We encountered her a few years ago while doing a retreat on the coast of North Carolina. Her hair was long, swept up loosely and held by decorative combs. She wore unique, dangly earrings and pretty flowing skirts. Her eyes sparkled when she laughed, which she did often, and her smile lit up the room. She was clearly in love with her husband, her face adoring as she gazed at him. June was at rest with herself, at home in who she was. Talking with her, just being with her, made us feel more at rest with ourselves as well. Her spacious, beautiful soul invited others to come, to be, to taste and see that the Lord is good, whatever was happening in your life. She wept at the retreat. She laughed at the retreat. She was gloriously alive and in love, both with her husband and with the God of the Universe…And June was about seventy-five years old…What is the difference?...June’s beauty flows from a heart at rest.”
(Captivating, p. 135)
June reminds me of Esther in "One Night With The King", the beautiful and courageous young woman taken from the pages of Scripture, whose beautiful heart stole the king's.

Eve was created to offer life, and one of the most glorious ways we do this as women is through our beauty. It is obvious by now that we are talking about a soulish beauty. Every woman possesses it. We are born with it, granted us by God Himself, as it is one of the ways we bear His image as a woman. (God himself is beautiful, Revelation 4:3, 6; Psalm 27:4; Isaiah 6:3 proclaims his beauty through the created world; just to name a few!)

Think about it. Who are you most "at home" with? With whom do you find yourself at ease and able to truly be yourself around? In those moments, if I were a betting person, I would bet that's when you let your guard down and your heart shows up. In their presence you aren't afraid and you feel secure, no longer needing to hide or strive. No need to flip the switch to survival mode.

This is where we must learn to live no matter who we are with or where we are. Impossible? June would say no. The invitation is to come again, as we explore the depths of beauty and how we may unveil it.

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