CULTIVATING A BEAUTY THAT LASTS
In April I turned 30, and what an absolute thrill it was.
Stan surprised me with a week away to the Italian coast of Amalfi, Positano, Nerano and Sorrento. We had a well-needed rest while exploring beautiful parts of Italy! The weather was also amazing which was welcomed with joyful and grateful hearts.
Leading up to my birthday, I must admit that I had mixed feelings about turning 30.
Partly, I suppose because we live in a world where youth is so prized and worshipped, and the thought of “getting older” can feel quite.. well ageing, not only on the body, but on the soul and mind.
The world of beauty is a billion pound a year business because staying young (in looks at least) is important to enough of us. Every day we are bombarded with adverts about beauty products that promise to keep us looking and feeling younger for longer and if you are anything like me, you may have bought an item… or two, or three.
Yet, the funny thing is that the moment we are conceived in our mothers’ wombs, the ageing process begins. Ageing is something that can be very sensitive for us women, and I think it is because the process itself speaks to a deep part of our hearts that tell us that although we are physically beautiful today, we may not be tomorrow. There will be change as we age or have children. Our physical looks are under threat. It’s quite an odd one. As a child, I couldn’t wait to grow up. As an adult, however, I want to slow down the process a little! can you relate?
On the other hand, I am greatly encouraged by the fact that as a redeemed woman, my life is no longer defined by my age, occupation, marital status, material items, social standing etc- well to God that is!
Some of us may attempt to play our part in prolonging the ageing process and that’s fine. Some of us, however, may live in denial for many years and I think it’s fair to say that lasting beauty, in general, is a topic that means a lot to us all.
What if we, however, instead of seeing ageing in a negative light, learned to embrace it as a part of life’s journey, and seek to cultivate a beauty that lasts beyond our years?
This beauty that I am referring to is one that is not only seen but is felt and sensed by those around us. It can only become our reality when the laurels of scripture are not only heard and read but are personally honoured and prized within our own hearts.
Lasting beauty can only be our portion when we joyfully and willingly respond to God’s headship and Word above our insecure feelings.
So what makes a woman truly beautiful?
As women, we know deep down in our souls that we long to bring beauty to the world. We may be mistaken on how to bring this beauty about (something that we all struggle with), but we long for something to experience and to unveil within ourselves.
A woman can and should be beautiful because God designed us to be that way. However it’s easy to get so caught up in dressing our bodies up, and we tend to be our biggest critics, as we explore and appraise our features in comparison to others. The physical side of our beauty, however, is just a small part of what makes us so truly beautiful.
There are so many encouraging words in the Bible concerning cultivating a beauty that lasts, and I’ll focus on 3.
1. Being a woman of discretion
As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout So is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion.
Discretion is such an important virtue and can really set us apart. A woman with inward discretion is cautious in making her decisions because she is intent on discerning all the facts, taking heed to wise counsel, and seeking the Lord before moving ahead with a decision. To be a woman of discretion requires great inward discipline because it calls for a lot of self-control.
You remember that time that you just felt like popping off at someone who frustrated you? Or how about the overwhelming temptation you may have felt to air out someone’s dirty laundry in the name of sharing out of concern?
This scripture contrasts something beautiful like a gold ring, with something dirty like a pigs nose, meaning that no matter how attractive an indiscreet woman may be, her lack of discretion dirties her.
Abigail was a woman found to demonstrate great discretion ( 1 Samuel 25) when she saved her husband from a near-death experience due to his folly.
Sometimes it is tempting to participate in gossip or to pass on negative tidbits of information that we know about someone else, but wisdom calls for restraint (Proverbs 17:9). Rather, it is better to use the tongue to uplift and encourage others, promoting unity, not division.
2. A woman who brings forth life with her words and ways
She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honour. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.
A woman who is able to impart life to her environment rather than take away from it is truly beautiful. Now, this isn’t always easy because to be a life-giving woman requires continual sacrifice (not perfection) even in the face of weariness. It’s not a call to become a silent doormat, but rather it is an encouragement toward choosing to make our paths pleasant despite external circumstances.
Choosing hope, life, to trust in God, to walk with God, to encourage others, and to exercise God’s wisdom brings forth life to your home and relationships. Take note that such a woman is described as a tree of life to those who take hold of her.
To be a tree of life calls for us to be rooted in the richest soil- the Word and life of God. Such a woman is often remembered long after she has left this earth because she inspired so many people to live a selfless life. She may not be a supermodel, but the beauty of her presence is long remembered.
3. Keeping the hope of the Gospel alive in your heart
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:18
There is a deep ache within me, and likewise within those that He has called to be His. There is a longing within us that will not go away because like a magnet to metal, this longing is weak-willed towards the Father and is unashamedly drawn to Him.
Keeping the message of the Gospel alive and fresh in our hearts makes us beautiful because it becomes the lens through which we view and live our lives. Life happens, and we will be confronted with fearful things, the unknown, and difficult mountains which will need to be overcome. The Word of God is the compass, strength and wisdom that we need to successfully understand, and overcome all that we go through in life.
Consider this possibility: could it be that physical wasting away and spiritual renewal are equal and opposite realities? Are we living now in time in processes to be completed later in eternity? If so, this casts a fascinating light on the subject of ageing—a special kind of ageing that involves physical diminishing and spiritual developing.
God yearns to be known, but He wants to be sought after by those who would know Him.
Jeremiah 29:13says; “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart”. There is dignity and such gracefulness here and I love that. If you would know him you must love Him; you must open your heart to Him alone and seek Him with all of it. As you experience the unveiling of His beauty, you want more. He draws you in to know Him more deeply and helps you to cultivate a beauty that lasts beyond your years.
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