Last week I wrote an article called What An Attractive Man Looks Like. I talked about the importance for setting high standards in the man you end with, and to look for a guy who lives in a way that reflects a love for Christ. However, after I wrote it I began to wonder what makes a woman beautiful. Have I been living in the way of a beautiful woman?
At the age of 13, I came home crying because a boy said I was ugly. I was so sure that being beautiful would never happen.
At the age of 15, I was so sure I knew what beauty in a woman looked like. Therefore, I became obsessed with working out and calorie counting. By the time I went on a cruise for spring break, I had a six-pack. I did not get this body in a healthy way. I remember posting this picture of myself, thinking "Grace you are closer to being beautiful, you got 100 likes, you must be semi-attractive". But still didn't feel pretty enough as a woman.
Now, this over-edited picture of myself makes me sick. I was not healthy, and the girl in this picture did not understand what made a woman beautiful.
At the age of 16, I began to cover my face up with makeup no matter where I was going. I would go to the gym to work out with makeup on. If I was going swimming, I would still put makeup on and fear water ruining it. Aren't those girls the worst!? I still didn't feel beautiful, even with six layers of coverup and eyeliner on. I even on a mission trip to Africa wore makeup almost daily, how sad is that?
However, one day while on that mission trip in Kenya, Africa, I sat at a church service in the market with little girls from the community. It had been a long day and my makeup was worn off. My hair was being pulled from five different angles, my face was sweaty, and I had little girls dancing around me showing me their favorite dance moves. In that moment, I didn't even think about how I physically looked. I didn't care that I was sweaty from the labor we participated in earlier, or that the children's dirty hands braiding my hair were making it tangly and greasy.
At that moment, my youth pastor at the time Jennifer Fontenot, looked at me from about 30 feet away and snapped a picture of me at that moment. She knew my struggle with insecurity and comparison. She knew I never felt beautiful. That night she showed me the picture and told me something that stuck with me for forever and changed my view on beauty.
"Grace, I know you don't feel beautiful or pretty enough but let me tell you something. When the kids were braiding your hair, you didn't have any makeup left on your face, and you were laughing with them, I saw a beautiful woman. I saw someone serving with joy, loving like Jesus, and not caring about physical beauty. You cared more about serving and that was beautiful."
Maybe Jen has been right this whole time. A woman is beautiful when loving others, and serving with joy. When a woman isn't focused on her outward appearance, and finds her worth in making others smile, she becomes more beautiful.
I'm not trying to give the cliche "it is what on the inside that matters" pep talk to girls. I'm not trying to tell you makeup was made by the devil, or it is awful to wear a fitting dress occasionally. Trust me, anyone who knows me knows I love dressing up and looking cute from time to time. I'm just saying that maybe, just maybe, a beautiful woman isn't necessarily the one with the six-pack abs, a thigh gap, shiny perfect hair, and blue eyes.
See the world will tell you that the skinnier you are, the more beautiful you will be. The world will tell you the more curves you have (in the right places of course) the more attractive you will be. The world will sell you thousands of different makeup and hair products to provide you hope that you can somehow make yourself more beautiful. But no matter what new push-up bra you wear, or how many hours your expensive cover-up will last, you will never truly feel beautiful. Despite what the world tells you, buying a tanning membership won't make you more beautiful. You actually can't buy anything that will make you more beautiful. See, being beautiful comes from the way you love and care for others. Being beautiful comes from bearing the fruits of the spirit in your life, putting others before yourself, while living in a way that brings joy to a world of suffering.
I pray a man falls in love with me for my heart. I pray when he sees me on my wedding day for the first time, as I walk the aisle, he of course thinks I look physically pretty, but cries tears of joy because he knows I'm more than what meets the eye. When he sees me, I pray he thinks of all the characteristics he adores. I pray he thinks of my heart and how he sees God in me.
I've learned this week I have a lot to work on in my life. I used to so desperately want a relationship, but maybe God has been putting it off because he knows I'm not ready to meet the man I'm gonna marry. I know I am not ready for one yet. I am still searching for my worth in things of this world, and finding beauty in the broken world we live in. With each passing day I pray I look in the mirror and instead of focusing on what pimples need to be covered and how to correctly contour, I fix my eyes on my inner beauty, finding ways to serve my Savior daily, and bring joy to a suffering world.
See beauty isn't measured in a thigh gap, having perfect hair, or a Kim Kardashian butt. A woman is most beautiful when loving others like Christ loves her. True beauty is knowing your worth comes from someone greater than the boy on the football team commenting the fire emoji on your Instagram picture. You are truly beautiful when you love.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5: 22-23