Humans are covetous creatures, and proud. We want to say that we have something to do with what have been freely given, and we want to have the gifts that someone else has. Both of these are condemned by our Lord… and for good reason. They lead to pain, not to freedom.
Who gave you your face? Who formed your body? Was it you who chose your eyes from a box, or decided if your hair would be red or black? We act like we’re responsible for the raw materials that we start out with. We aren’t. I get compliments all day long about my eyes – but these aren’t contacts, and the only thing I have to do with them is picking colors that set them off nicely. So why should I be proud of them? I am their steward, not their creator, and not their owner.
The body that you live in, like the rest of mortal life, is something you’ve been given temporary stewardship over. You can guard it, maintain it, use it for the glory of God and good in general, or you can abuse it – but what you can’t do is keep it. We have aging to remind us of this, that the body we have now isn’t even the body we’ll have ten years from now… changes will be made, changes we have no control over.
So why be proud? And why be cast down?
The tall, thin girl wishes she had lush curves. The curvy girl wishes she had longer legs. The girl with straight hair spends hundreds of dollars getting it permed or hours with a curling iron. The girl with curly hair pours formaldehyde on her head to keep her hair straight for more than a day. There are women bleaching their skin and women lying in tanning beds as you read this. Every single one of us covets what someone else has. And we all hold on to youth with teeth and toenails, as if beauty is something that is only for the young.
Enough! This isn’t how God wants His daughters to behave! We need a new mindset about beauty. It’s okay to be beautiful! God likes beauty – open your eyes if you don’t believe me, He’s made a ton of it. And other people like beauty, it makes them happy. But it’s not the end all and be all of life – why can’t we put it in its proper place? It’s not evil to make what you have been given as nice as possible. It’s not evil to take joy in that, or share joy with those around you (in appropriate ways). It is something of which you are a steward.
So. If you have curly hair, take care of it. And if it’s straight, brush it until it shines. If your skin is milky white or chocolate brown, keep it healthy and moisturized and cherish it. If your eyes are black or blue or green or amber… show them off because they’re the windows to your soul. Make of what you have been given the best you can, and hold it lightly – you won’t have this forever.
Go to the gym and keep your body strong – you want to use it, and you can’t use a tool that hasn’t been well maintained. Eat good food that will keep you running. Smile and bless the person you’re speaking to. If you’re young and strong, glory in that. If you’re old and wise, glory in that. If you don’t have the physical self you’d like to have… well, do what you can with what you have and don’t worry about it. It’s a good thing, but it’s not the only thing. It’s not the most important thing.
But it is a good thing. And it’s the thing that I’ve been given to talk about, and teach about. So – let’s talk about how to be as beautiful as possible, with the understanding that this too shall pass. Let us start with the idea that we are stewards of what we have been given, and enjoy this, as we also enjoy the beauty of others, not to covet or to lust, but simply to appreciate what the Creator has done.