Just the other day...I was blessed to be able to go on vacation with some of my extended family. My girls and I stayed in a beach house with my sister-in-law, Laura, her three kids, plus my brother's two girls. More of my family members stayed in a condo nearby. We had a ton of fun together (!), but that's beside the point.
Shortly after we all arrived, Laura discovered that in the craziness of trying to get out of the house with said kids in tow, she had left a huge bag full of important items, the main items being, her makeup! Just minutes after she had discovered it, she remarked, "I'm going to die without my makeup!"
To that, my nine year old daughter who was standing nearby matter-of-factly said, "I don't wear makeup and I'm alive."
She is wise beyond her years...always has been. In that moment, I was proud of her non-conformity...happy that, all-in-all, she remains unaffected by our culture's impossible standards. Perhaps all the talks about inner beauty being most important are sinking in???
Yet, I cringe, because all talks aside, her present reality is not the world I live in. It's the world I want to live in, but I am a victim of my culture. I live very much in the "I'm-going-to-die-without-my-makeup" world that my sister-in-law and millions of others live in. If I'm going to see anyone besides my immediate family, I want to have makeup on. In fact, my husband-to-be had never seen me without makeup on until the day he proposed (and that was only because I didn't know he was coming over and I was cleaning)! He still went through with the proposal, so I guess that says something, but still, in 7 months of dating, I had never felt comfortable enough to be around him without "covering up". I guess you could say we started out pretty shallow. It takes time to peel back the layers on an onion, but that, too, is beside the point.
The point is, makeup and wearing makeup is not wrong in and of itself... it's thinking we have to wear it in order to gain value and be beautiful, THAT'S what's wrong!!
I got a lesson in this when we moved here back in January. The neighborhood we moved into is just awesome. There are friendly, smiling, waving faces everywhere you turn. It's my kind of place:) But, when we first moved in, I wasn't prepared to have people stopping by to meet us all the time. I was in find-a-place-for-all-this-mess-or-I'm-going-to-pull-my-hair-out mode. I literally met every single neighbor within close proximity to our house at a moment when I had not a stitch of makeup on. I know this because I remember the sense of shame I felt each time. I had wanted to make a good impression, not a bad one!
But you know what? My neighbors met the real me...the me that tries so hard to have it all together, but always fails, overweight, out-of-style, tired-momma me. And, you know what?! They still talk to me! :) They have become friends! We are doing life together! And to think it all started off with my absolute worst foot forward...the "uncovered" me.
I didn't know it then, but I know it now.
God has been teaching me a lesson and it is this:
Try as we may to cover up, what's real about us always shines through.
The Word says it so beautifully:
"Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious." 1 Peter 3:3-4
This passage proves to me that, even in Biblical times, there were women trying to make a good impression, to put their best foot forward. They, too, needed to be reminded about the hidden person of the heart...the real person inside. Ladies, that is the only place our true beauty can be found! The real, uncovered, unpolished, unpowdered, uncut, unlasered, undone you...THAT you holds the potential for the most astonishing, imperishable beauty. By the world's standards, you might not be much to look at, but to God, THAT is the you He is in love with. The real you...the you you are deep down. And the ugliness found there that you run from, He runs towards!! (Amazing, huh?!)
Listen, God is not impressed when all your pimples are popped and your pores are minuscule. He's not impressed when you are looking all cute in the latest trendy outfit. He's not impressed when your grays are covered, your hair styled, and your nails manicured. His head is not turned by your impressive abs, toned thighs, and uplifted body parts. Does God want you to take care of your body? Yes. Does He want you running yourself ragged to look like the cover of a magazine or even the woman next door? Absolutely not. In doing so, if you're not careful, you make your own culturally-motivated image of perfection your idol.
Let me tell you what impresses God, sweet sisters. He is impressed when you love Him with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Luke 10:27). He is impressed when you love others like you love yourself (Matt 22:39). He is pleased when you take delight in giving (2 Cor 9:7), do good, and share what you have (Heb 13:16). God's heart swells when you exercise your faith and take Him at His Word (Heb 11:6). Want to turn God's head? If you live righteously, the Word of God literally says that the eyes of the Lord are upon you and His ears are turned towards you (Psalm 34:15).
I'm ashamed that I have acted so much out of my cultural upbringing, out of this pervading, constant thought that my value comes partly from how good I can look on the outside. I'm ashamed that I have been saying one thing to my daughters about inner beauty, but in actuality living out another. I'm ashamed that the hidden person of the heart has meant less to me, at times, than the outer shell that contains it.
"Lord, help us, as your daughters, to start waking up to the lies we are consuming. Help us to concentrate on what really matters...on loving You and spending time with You. As we do, would You help us to grow hearts that will follow steadfastly after You, no matter which way the currents of our culture flow? Please do 'heart surgery' on us daily, removing those things that bear no weight in Your kingdom. Help us, Father, to remove any graven images we have in our minds. And help us, Lord, to diligently teach those who are coming behind us where their true value is found...only in You."
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For His glory,