Recently, I joined a group on social media geared toward aging gracefully. I had high hopes of finding some tips on makeup that doesn’t sink into the creases of my face and how to avert the inevitable aches and pains of an aging body. Generally, how to make the most of what I have to look and feel my best. Trading encouragement with others in the same boat to Geriatric Island sounded lucrative, and I was hopeful.
The day I joined the group, it immediately became apparent I had walked onto the boat to Alcatraz. The insensitive comments and unasked for criticism of other women’s choices and their appearance, even down to their God-given features, were appalling. I watched as a couple of new ladies tentatively posted their photos to the group, only to become overwhelmed by the responses, some of which were cruel and sarcastic. They left the group to lick their wounds on the day they joined.
Why do we place so much emphasis on looks? Is it because that’s our first impression when we meet people for the first time? What about the people we already know? Do we still pick apart their choices?
In a kinder time, it was considered rude to comment on another person’s style or looks unless it was a compliment. Even then, the mention might not be appreciated. Not everyone wants or needs to be noticed by others. At the same time, some people crave attention because somewhere along the line, they felt invisible.
Watching the drama unfold made me realize how fragile we are and how even the simplest of mishandled words can shatter souls and hope. Deep down, we will always remain children affected by bullies and those who inadvertently hurt us. Some learn to manage their feelings and come off as poised and mature, but others continue to struggle with the impulses of their youth of fight or flight. I think we are tired of fighting and choose to fly away with our broken wings, more often than not.
Is it wrong to want to look our best? Do we admire others for their inner beauty, no matter what our discerning eyes think of how they look on the outside? Do we subtly put others down because they’ve taken the time to look their best while making excuses about how we don’t have the time for such things? Does any of it even matter?
I ask questions of myself as well as of you. I wanted to know what the Bible says, and here is what I found:
You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.
Song of Solomon 4:7
A wife is beautiful inside and out to her husband, who loves her.
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
1 Peter 3:3-4
Gentleness and a quiet spirit are classic and timeless beauty. These attributes are attainable for anyone who wants them, regardless of stature and wealth. Jesus will help you.
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
A woman who thinks she is beautiful because the world tells her she is might be full of pride and act accordingly toward others. A person can let any accolades regarding her “beauty,” including inner beauty, go to her head.
Have you ever had a lovely person blurt out an insult in an effort to “help”? I have. It’s a little shocking. Giving the benefit of the doubt helps, but if it continues, you might wonder why someone who knows better keeps doing it.
Confident people can ignore the rudeness, but some sweet souls will take it to heart. The sensitive soul needs an apology, love, and encouragement, not continued criticism for “misunderstanding” or being so touchy. That’s not YHWH’s heart.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
Humble confidence is beautiful. It knows God made you just the way you are, and He doesn’t make mistakes.
Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,
1 Timothy 2:9
Women and men should dress appropriately to worship God, not drawing attention to themselves. It’s not a style mandate as much as an examination of motives. “Look at me” doesn’t belong in worship. In Biblical times, braided hair was considered an expensive luxury that took time. Today, it is much more common, as is wearing jewelry. It’s uncomfortable to walk into a room over or underdressed, but modesty and self-control will always be appropriate.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Think of others before yourself.
Give praise and encouragement.
What if there is nothing honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or praiseworthy?
Just be kind.
You don’t have to say anything at all.