He has made everything beautiful in its time. Ecclesiastes 3:11 NKJV
I am often reminded of the fable The Ugly Duckling in which a swan is mistaken for an unsightly duck. When the true identity of the swan is revealed, we realize that this swan may have been ugly by duck standards but is beautiful to other swans. Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder – whether you’re a duck, swan, or person. Like a snowflake, every one of us is unique. God sees us as a masterpiece; and when we look in the mirror, He wants us to know that.
Of course I want my children to have inner beauty first and foremost. I want them to have kind, compassionate hearts that love people. I want them to have an attractive attitude towards others. I want them to ask for forgiveness for their ugly actions and forgive others who act ugly towards them.
But I also would love for them to just brush their hair.
So there is my conundrum; how do I get my children to love themselves enough to take care of their bodies (brush teeth, hair, bathe, deodorant) without making it ALL about their body?
The world is already so focused on outward appearance. Fashion and appearance reign supreme today. Advertising bombards us with ways to improve our appearance on a daily basis. Shows like “The Biggest Loser” or “Extreme Makeover” illustrate that we are not good looking enough the way we are so changing the way we look makes for big ratings. Beauty trends even trickle down to our little ones. The other day I saw a 2 year old wearing Toms. They were already scuffed and worn. Kids start at a younger age to perform beauty trends meant for adults. My 6 year old is already asking about makeup.
This leads me to be more vigilant about the example I am setting for my children in my attitude towards beauty as a woman. How much focus do I put on what is wrong with my appearance? Do I say negative remarks about my weight, eating habits, or bad hair days in front of my family? Am I too lax in my decisions on when my children get to wear makeup or what outfits are appropriate? How much time, money, and effort do I put into my own outward image? Do my actions trickle into other areas of my life such as statements like, “We can’t have people over, the house is a mess” as if others will only love us when our house is immaculate? What does that teach my children about image and love?
I’ve had a past of being too focused on my appearance. I wasted years on trying to be superficially beautiful. But all too often God gently nudges my prideful heart. Any time I start to consider the body and how to treat it, I must begin with the fact that, as a Christian, my body belongs to God and is to be used only to bring Him honor. Because my body no longer belongs to me, I need to treat it as if it were a precious item on loan from a friend. That means I will consult the Owner before I do anything to change it.
I’ve learned that good stewardship includes some outward adornment and beautification (like hair brushing), but that should never be what drives me. If I spend more money, time, and effort developing my outward beauty than my inner woman, I need to rethink my priorities. I need to rethink the message I am sending to my children.
I need to be teaching my children that God sees the swan hiding inside every ugly duckling.
“And you would know you have my heart
If you could see, what I see
that a treasure’s what you are
if you could see, what I see
Created to be
the only one for me
If you could see, what I see
I know there are days when you feel so much less than ideal wondering what I see in you. It’s all of the light and the grace your belief in me drives me to say that I promise you a faithful love, forever true
If beauty is all n the eye of the beholder then I am beholding true beauty”
– Geoff Moore and the Distance