Friday, August 1, 2008

Beauty is Fleeting

By Charlotte Cole

Proverbs 31: 30

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. (NIV)

In Austin Texas, where I was reared, some girls appear to be born with their makeup already applied. One gal’s Texan fiancĂ©e moved her down from Pennsylvania to Dallas saying “Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I have included weekly manicures and pedicures for you into our budget!” Needless to say, having grown up in an environment like that, my looks have been front and center of my priority list for …, well forever.

It is loathsome to admit such shallow vanity, and yet as I creep up to that age that starts with an ‘F’ and I can’t wear my size fours, I am struck with a harsh reality: Beauty is fleeting. Yes, the Bible says so, but while I have clung for dear life to every other word written in scripture, I have kidded myself thinking “My beauty will never really flee.” However, my thinking has changed as I’ve begun heading down that dreaded, irreversible path of age.

What will be left? I’ve invested a lot of time and energy into my relationship with God, my family, and friends, but I’ve also invested a lot into my appearance- the finest haircuts, colors and accessories. I’ve really wanted my husband to have a radiant wife, and I’ve always liked to be the Belle of the Ball.

Now that time is taking its inevitable toll, I need to own up to the truth, pure beauty that never fades comes from within and it comes from Jesus. 2 Corinthians 2:16 says ‘Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.’ (NIV) It’s time I re-shift my priorities from the image in the mirror to the image in the eyes of God.

Of course, it will be physically impossible for me to let myself go completely and that’s not God’s will either. I do however, need to quit looking at Jennifer Aniston, who’s single and never had a baby (much less four), and think, ‘she’s my age, if she can do it, so can I.’

I have to begin believing that what my husband loves in me is not on the outside. His love stems from who I am, the way I love him, the way I light up when he arrives on any scene or how I dedicate myself to caring for his needs. That’s a hard thought to get a hold of for some women, especially women like me who have really taken their appearance very seriously for their whole lives.

I dread admitting this but, I have recently realized that a lot of women, whose looks I sadly pass judgment on, are content with their looks. When I sit there and sadden the Lord with my thoughts, I am beginning to realize her husband sees what he ought to see- her heart! He sees the way she loves him, cares for his babies, and supports him.

I am beginning to long for that, I am beginning to desire what those women have. Here I’ve assumed they probably envied me because, compared to them I am pretty. In reality, can you begin to imagine how ugly I am inside with those awful thoughts, especially in God’s Holy eyes, as I pass shallow judgment over the appearance of His faithful servants?

For a longtime I’ve known charm was deceptive, I’ve known a woman who fears the Lord was to be praised and now I know; Beauty is fleeting!


Lennie said...

Dear Charlotte,
Last summer I lost my hair as a result of chemotherapy. I was a woman who had not seen my natural hair color in 15 years, much less having never seen myself bald. It has been an adventure in which I have learned that God loves me just as I am--first bald, and now with funny hair which is totally different from my previous hair. But, with or without hair, he loves me. He has healed me too, and that is the victory!

Anonymous said...

I moved from the Midwest several years ago to Dallas, & was so surprised & disappointed by the, "I must be perfect culture & attitude", I found there. Everyone always had such beautiful smiles & seemed so happy. I was a single mother with 3 children & thought I was bringing them to a better life, kinder & real. What I found was superficial & judgmental. My children were treated less than worthwhile because we were not driving a fancy car, lived in a mansion, nor had new outfits & money as other children. It was a very difficult time for us. We eventually moved back, to where no one cared if I was dressed for diner for a 6:30am grocery trip, or they had on the latest Gap outfit. The experience did have an affect on them & me, & I continually told them this type of behavior & attitude was not how the Lord wanted us to treat each other. It made us all very sad & we were glad to be away from this "Southern Charm", & superficial existence. We ended up feeling sorry for them. Thank God the Lord carried us through. We are all equal under God. I'm just sorry we were all hurt by this experience.

candy said...

Well, I must say I am convicted! I have struggled all my life about my looks. I compare myself to others and get depressed with myself. March 21 I will hit 30. I am married with 4 kids and 40lbs over weight. With the mind of trying to be an 18 year old body. I was remined of how I make the Lord feel when I bash the body he created and focus on me. Thanks!!