why so desperate for beauty?
“When Jesus is merely useful to me, I want Him to move my world. When Jesus is ultimately beautiful to me, it’s my heart that is moved – and this begins to change the world.” [Ann Voskamp]
I think of beauty and I feel great a sense of striving, angst, confusion and yet I have this great need to understand why I cannot let the question of beauty rest.
What kind of beauty do you want? I paint on lines, soften the blush, rub my lips against the thick color. I look in the mirror and feel happy and beautiful until I remember I must walk out into the sun and move along with the lines of people. I can’t look the man across the counter in the eye now. I’m afraid of what my made-into beauty will be to him, to them, to me. I feel naked, more exposed by my enhanced layer. I hear a girl must protect herself nowadays. Beauty is a cross to bear, said one teacher. She made me wonder what turned her bitter.
Beauty does things. It’s an invitation. But I can’t seem to control whom or what it invites. What does it mean to ‘put on my face’? Is my beauty a target or a celebration? When my strong man is beside me I feel it is safe. I feel full of beauty as it was intended, I think. But alone, I am not prepared. I have not learned how to form my limbs into a weapon to fight the armies of critical thoughts and dirty wants that have twisted what beauty was first created to be. So for now…
I feel more comfortable in my brown wren feathers. I am woman. A mother whether to children or to my passionate work. My feathers are my covering. Like the mother wren, I blend in and protect the life I have given birth too. But shouldn’t life beget life? Am I hiding the invitation to an antidote than can raise souls up from the dead? The feathers remind me of sky and forest and mountain. The places where I feel you most vividly, the places where I want to stay. I like to forget the horrors here sometimes. Are you here too? In the concrete, in the images, in the suggestion-laden streets. I hold tightly to the art of blending in. It is my secret talent. A shield. I call it a virtue.
But some days I’m tired of my mouse, brown feathers, their under-appreciated beauty. I lust for the power of persuasion. It is a kind of birthright. I want them to wish they had been enough for me. I want them to feel shorter. I want them to work and sweat just to gain enough presence to swell into my space and make themselves worth my eye contact. So with bared teeth I paint on lines, soften the blush, rub my lips against the thick color. I know somehow it can’t be right. But I walk out daring them to know I cannot be touched. I am as cold and beautiful as marble. They will not break me. I forget my desire for the Creator, that He is the key that unlocks the fear of this broken mess here on earth.
Why beauty? Of all the things you could have made? It’s brittle inspiration. It is a fragile declaration that there is more to life than just the mortal. Only an immortal code imbedded in our cells could cause such deep desire to feel and to be beautiful. Why must the line of beauty be taut? One step left is white, one step right is black. Why is the search for beauty desperate? Why is the need for beauty insatiable? How does one kind of beauty wreck us and the other lead us to an indescribable picture of You?
You. When I see You clear—no critical chatter humming in my ears, no twisted truths floating like cataracts in my eyes—I see beauty that is strength and heaven. I fall in love with the beautiful ways you restore me. So gentle, like I am a great work of art that has suffered the ruin of time and neglect that is as sure as time on this earth. You believe I am worth restoration. You, so soft, you can absorb every sickening thing humanity has ever done. And yet here You stand, strong as ever, full of life in such a way I never dreamed could be. You are beautiful. You make me beautiful. And I think, my Love, I want—now more than ever—to stand in all my restored beauty and tell them…
Here. Is. The. Way.
Dear women, I think now is a time to have a discussion of beauty. What does it mean? In your everyday what do you think of beauty? Do you hate it? Wish for it? Believe you have a hold of it? There are a million things to say about beauty and a million ways to look at the purpose of beauty. Do you believe it’s critical? Let’s start the discussion.