“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:13-14
Just like you, I like beautiful things. Sunrises, flowers, songs, mountains, words of affection. Pretty clothes, shimmering lip gloss, shiny shoes. Truth. Justice. Common Sense.
There was a time when I chased beauty like a hound on a coon. Except, not a very good hound, since I never felt I caught it. Can you guess which season of life this was? Yep, adolescence. During my teens, my body wasn’t the only thing changing. My heart was stretching, trying to cram as much beauty inside as possible. The need to be beautiful, for a teenager, is akin to the need for being loved. So it’s no surprise that Psalm 139 was a popular scripture with me in high school. It affirmed who I was. It gave me warm fuzzies. It soothed my aching self-esteem.
And then I became a young woman. I fell in love, and consequently, fell into beauty (That which is loved is always beautiful, as goes the Norwegian Proverb). I sort of forgot about Psalm 139, or rather, lost need for its truth. My husband spoke beauty over me. I settled into a peaceful place. Confident. Dreaming God-dreams, seeing the future sitting like a colossal, unmissable target in front of me, urging me to shoot the arrow and hit the bullseye.
Then all of a sudden, it’s two children later and I have wrinkles around my eyes. In place of my tight, flat tummy is something that looks like a topographical map of crater lake. Pursue God-dreams? I’m trying to get enough sleep to dream, period. Exercise? It’s called bending over to pick up some toys and pausing a moment for a stretch or weightlifting my thirty-pound son during that afternoon pre-dinner meltdown. The only thing I’m chasing are disobedient children who dart into the street.
And so I arrive at another season of needing Psalm 139. Perhaps I need it more now than I did in high school when the beauty of an unknown future was enough to cause a hope surge. When I’m worn out from picking grains of rice off the floor, it’s easy for those Garden lies to pounce. Am I really worth just the couple of loads of laundry I managed to do today? What really makes me a woman? Is it truly, as this world wants me to believe, a well-dressed shapely figure with a lot of allure and mystique? According to all the ads for cosmetics, weight-loss programs, or plastic surgeons, what I look like is the key to contentment.
Really?Have we simplified beauty to nothing more than an outer presentation? If my skin just cleared up for once in my thirty-one years, will I magically be happy? If my hair finally decides to lay flat and not frizz out, will I have arrived at true bliss? Perhaps if it were just a matter of finding the right products or doing the right beauty treatments, we’d all find contentment.
It’s time to renew my beauty creed based upon Psalm 139. Beauty is connected with divine purpose. Living a called life is beautiful. I’m who I am for a reason and I can trust the Creator. I won’t capitulate to the standards of beauty in this culture, which are often hinged on that idol of body image. Curves (or lack of) don’t define who I am, nor does pure skin, or hair that won’t frizz. It’s not that what we look like on the outside doesn’t matter, because health and presentation are important, but in the light of God’s Kingdom, does it matter if I’m a size 4? The truth of the Gospel is that the longer the Holy Spirit simmers in us, the more beautiful we become. And that beauty manifests in our actions, our words, and even our appearances.
What makes me a woman is God and his providence. He decided to give me two x chromosomes, and that makes me a woman – fearfully and wonderfully made.Who am I? I’m a woman of worth, known by the Father, hemmed in by his Spirit, chosen before the creation of the world to do good works for the Kingdom of God. All other things take second place.