On January 23, our second daughter, Eden, entered the world after five short hours of labor. My husband, Nick, and I rejoiced over our sweet little baby and the blessing of being parents to two little girls. Nick is most definitely outnumbered by ladies in our home. As we enjoyed our newest bundle of joy, I began a battle that I know most postpartum women face. Actually, it’s not a battle unique to women who just had babies or even unique to just women — it’s a battle that many men and women face each and every day.
Recognizing the Battle
My battle was a battle over beauty.
You see, my newly postpartum body did not conform to our culture’s definition of beauty. I was definitely not going to be gracing the cover of any popular magazines. I did not fit the impossible standard of beauty set by our society.
Renewing Our Mind
I did not want to continue to define myself by the world’s standard of beauty. I knew the ideas running through my mind about what I should look like were lies and were not going to help me fulfill my purpose in life of being pleasing to Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:9). I now had two daughters, and I knew that the way I handled the topic of beauty would directly affect them as well.
I wanted to obey Romans 12:2, which tells me:
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Learning True Beauty
In the midst of this battle, my husband bought me the book True Beauty by Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Whitaker. In the remainder of this post, I want to share with you three things I learned through this book that most radically reshaped my view of beauty.
1. The Beautiful One
God is the Beautiful One. He is the one that created beauty and all that He does and all that He is, is beautiful. Have you ever taken the time to think about just how beautiful your Savior is?
I loved this quote from Mahaney & Whitaker:
“To find true beauty, we have to rewind through centuries of changing fashion to the source: the ‘foundation and fountain’ of all that is beautiful. The Bible shows us true beauty. It reveals God as the beautiful One. Long before the ins and outs of changing fashion, God existed in perfect beauty. He is the ultimate, unchanging, eternal standard of beauty. He is the Author, Creator, and Bestower of beauty. His beauty transcends time and culture. It never changes and never fades. In order to know what true beauty is, we must see God.” (p. 26-27)
So what is it about God that is beautiful? For starters, God’s character is beautiful — his holiness, justice, patience, power, humility, wisdom and so much more.
Have you ever taken the time to study God’s character? This year, I have been using the book Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem to accompany my devotions. In it, Grudem takes the time to explain aspects of God’s character from Scripture. This is an excellent study to do in your quiet times as you seek to know the Beautiful One better.
Once we begin to know more of God’s beautiful character, we can begin to define beauty in accordance with that character. For example, how could I find immodest things beautiful or appealing when I know that God’s holiness is beautiful? Immodesty is a direct contrast to God’s holiness, so as I find God more beautiful, immodesty becomes less attractive to me.
2. Glory Thieves
Often when we give ourselves to the beauty-related sins of self-pity and vanity, what we are really doing is seeking glory from others. Mahaney and Whitaker quote Paul Tripp here, who says, “Sin makes us glory thieves.”
Yes, when I am seeking my own glory as I indulge in sinful vanity and beauty related self-pity, I am seeking God’s glory for myself.
Surely as people who both know and love God, we cannot and must not continue to seek God’s glory for ourselves in the area of beauty. I am reminded of a friend of mine who always says that when a person is done talking to her, she does not want them to walk away thinking about her appearance, but rather, she wants them to think, “Wow! Her God is awesome!”
3. Beauty is Not Wrong
God is beautiful. He has created us with the creative desire to clothe ourselves with beauty. It is not wrong for us to dress in beautiful things and care for our appearance.
The point is this: do we value what is truly beautiful and seek to clothe ourselves in a way that is consistent with God’s character and seek to obey the truth of God’s Word as written in 1 Timothy 2:9-10?
“I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.”
There is so much more to explore on this topic of true beauty. Our culture has saturated our minds for so long with its own standard of beauty. As God’s people, we must actively begin to reshape our view of beauty to conform to God’s standard of beauty and cast off all temptation to make much of ourselves in the way we dress or in our appearance.
Moving Forward Together
I am so thankful for this book and the way it has shaped my view of beauty. I hope to daily fight the battle of both vanity and self-pity as I seek instead to put on good deeds and to treasure my beautiful Savior.
Will you join me in this beauty battle by redefining your view of beauty as well? I’d love to hear how God has grown you in this area, please share in the comments below!