Friday, May 28, 2010

Be Beautiful on the Inside and Out

We own a wonderful examination of conscience book for the whole family that we purchased nearly 15 years ago. It's divided into sections for wives, mothers, husbands, fathers, and children, so it gets used by nearly all of us. While preparing for confession a couple weeks ago, another family member was utilizing the book, so I thought I would look on-line and see what I could find. I googled "examination of conscience for wives and mothers", and came across a blog entry I thought might work. Upon clicking the link, I was a bit taken aback by some of what this blogger felt constituted sin. Several of her questions had to do with beauty practices. For example, she asked "Do you dye your hair?" She then went on to ask if you dyed your hair because you don't like the hair God gave you. Another question asked, "Do you use anti-aging products?" Once again she asks if this is because you don't like the way God created you.

So, I get where she was going with this. We are a culture obsessed with youth and beauty and we are inundated by ideas of perfection from every source imaginable. Outward, superficial appearance is everything. What is inside does not matter in the least. This is the message we are so often left with. Absolutely, there is serious sin in vanity, but does coloring our hair, or using a cream really constitute vanity?

When I was a little girl my mother used to quote a scripture that spoke about the importance of being beautiful on the inside: "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7. One evening she found me weeping. An adult had called me beautiful earlier in the day, and I was so worried that if I was beautiful on the outside, I couldn't possibly be beautiful on the inside.

I think as Christian women, it is important for us to not go to the extreme in either direction. We are capable of using our God given intelligence and our well formed consciences to determine if we've strayed into vanity (spending an inordinate amount of time and resources improving our looks or even venturing into dangerous practices to look better or more youthful), or if we've drifted the other direction into spiritual pride (neglecting our appearance to appear more pious and holy).

My husband appreciates my femininity, and my outward appearance is certainly an extension of that. Personally, wearing a little makeup and a pair of earrings makes me feel physically better, more energized, like I'm ready to tackle the day. Silly, I know, to think a little mascara might make me a better wife and mother, but I really do believe it does.
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Bonnie said...

compelling, Maurisa, and inspirational. I'm like you in feeling so much better about myself when I'm "put together", so to speak.

Walter said...

Hey Mau,

I know for myself I am sooo caught up in my youth and beauty. I spend hours on my hair and skin to make sure I get the perfect sheen and glow coming from my dome. I don't wear make-up being that no amount of paint is going to improve on what has been determined to be my being a guy it would come across as quite creepy. I know I am fully capable of using my God given intelligence but the consensus of those around me have determined that God shut down the intelligence factory for maintainence the day I was I try to use what I have. Seriously though...I fully agree that this is a topic worthy of blogging and discussion. We live in a world who bases human value and placement upon outward appearance at the cost of inward wholeness. I believe there is a balance we all need to walk in. I love working out a lot and how it makes me feel. What I am learning is no matter how chiseled my features might get my deeper value, the value Christ places on us, is not affected. I have to see myself through that lens before I look at how I feel about myself on the outside. When I come from that perspective any asthetic improvements is more about improving how I feel as a man at that moment. Of course I would prefer to let myself go and eat bacon, brauts, steak and all other wonderful foods and forget it all!!!

Natalie said...

I feel the same way. Even though I'm a stay at home mom, I still like to look nice for my husband. I have to curl my hair everyday to feel good otherwise its a mess.

Teresa said...

I think there's a difference between enhancing the beauty that you have and trying to fake a beauty that you haven't got. That's where I would draw the line between appropriate and inappropriate (e.g., I'd be fine with mascara, but I wouldn't wear fake eyelashes). I don't think that that necessarily corresponds to a not-sinful/sinful line, though. As you said, I think it's more about attitude.