I was recently looking through my journal and I came across a prayer that I wrote to Jesus in which I asked him to take me on a Quest to find my own beauty, teach me how to be beautiful, and to somehow cultivate all of these things in me. This request came out of my reading on Queen Esther of Persia, and how she was transformed into the most beautiful and desirable woman in the entire kingdom, through a year of pampering. And yet her beauty, no matter how stunning, would have been nothing without her lovely God-given inner beauty, the beauty of her heart. But let’s be honest, she was also physically beautiful, and you cannot separate the beauty of her heart from her outer beauty.
I had not thought about my request for quite a while, because, let’s face it, I was not exactly being sent to the Ritz Carlton in Paris for a year of beauty treatments! It is just so precious how Jesus begins to answer our prayers even while we have forgotten about them. I have come to the conclusion that beauty is a journey of the heart and the body. Beauty is work, or, more appropriately, it is a cultivation of your heart and what Jesus has given you in the gift of your body. Your body is his gift to you; you are made in his image. Just take that and savor it. I wish someone would have said those words to me when I was young. I wish I would have known that God himself is the Creator of beauty, and that He gave the daughters of Eve His shimmering, luminous, intoxicating, joyous beauty to be a reflection of himself.
I see now that in the last couple of years, Jesus has been preparing my heart step-by-step to come to the place of even asking him to take me on this quest for beauty. It started with a book. For me, most movements of my heart always start with a book. I began by reading “Captivating” by Stasi and John Eldredge. To even begin to explain the freedom and healing that Jesus brought me through this book would actually take years to do, but one of the things that Jesus showed me was that my longing for beauty was from him. It is not vanity or selfishness but the true desire of every woman he ever created. But first of all, Jesus has to work on the inner parts of our lives. After reading this book four times, and watching the accompanying DVD’s over and over, and answering countless questions over a two and half year period of my life, Jesus has been healing my heart. The heart! Wow!! That is where the essence of our beauty comes from. Jesus had to get my heart back, and so he has, and now nothing is the same- including my physical beauty.
When you grow up as a young girl, the pressure to have a beauty all your own is almost too much to bare. For most of us, we either despair over it and then give up, or we strive so hard to obtain it that we end up becoming a slave to it. Few women in our culture are taught the art and cultivation of beauty, of becoming beautiful. We are never told that knowing something about who you are and what you love is part of what makes you beautiful. That the right makeup, clothes, shoes, jewelry, and scent, can change a woman and make her stunning. The accessories of beauty can frame the masterpiece, they can literally take a woman out of hiding to a place of glory. That is what Jesus is showing me.
I have a dear friend, who told me that when she got well, when she got her heart back, she got a subscription to Vogue magazine. She told me this years ago, and at the time I was so broken that I had no idea what she meant. But Jesus has brought that back to me as I have been on my journey. As Christian women, we are never really taught, but it is certainly assumed that the fashion world is “THE WORLD”, and that we have no place in it. Jesus has shown me that this ache for beauty requires you to learn something about beauty. Beauty is a journey- it will never just come to you, you must seek it out. You’ll only succeed with Jesus’ s help because there are two forces at work in our lives: Jesus and our enemy, the devil. You can see what both the world and the religious church have done with beauty, and each extreme is ugly in the most blatant and broken way. The mystery and beauty of a woman is not only essential to her very being, it is the essence of her femininity.
Femininity and beauty, for the majority of us, are fraught with all kinds of hidden meanings and I’d like to address a few of these meanings here. I used to live in Miami, Florida, and let me tell you- the Latina women could teach Midwesterners a thing or two about beauty. First off, beauty is wrapped up in your body. The way that you reveal and carry yourself, and the mysterious sensuousness of a woman is something most Midwestern church-going women are terrified of. If you do not know what “sensuousness” means, look it up in Webster’s dictionary- it will surprise and delight you! I want to give you some examples of beautiful sensuous women: Rita Hayworth, Anita Ekberg, Sofia Loren, Raquel Welsch, Peg Evans, Eva Mendes, Shanna Brown, Marilyn Monroe, Queen Latifah, Betty Grable, Joann Woodard and Marlena De Blasi. They embody femininity in all of their curves, swells and roundness. They are women who are not afraid of what makes them a woman.
While in Louisiana, I experienced the joy and pleasure of shopping with several black ladies. These are women who are, through and through, unafraid of being sensuous and feminine at any size. Size seems to be what keeps most women from even revealing their femininity, much less enjoying it. This group of women are not hiding their bodies, but choosing to reveal their beauty in all it’s glory. They taught me so much about confidence, strength, dignity, and most of all- mysterious feminine beauty. Allowing my beauty to be revealed requires wisdom, strength, and confidence in Jesus. He is teaching me so much on this Journey to cultivate beauty. I will continue to write on the lessons he has been teaching past and present. I encourage you to ask him what he thinks of your beauty, and to take you on the journey to getting your heart back. Through this journey with him, he will show you both your stunning internal and physical beauty. ~Starla