"How can they do that?" I asked, "It doesn't look natural, and it doesn't really look that good! Most of them have very little expression, and they look swollen!" As I sat there looking at the photos, I judged them! In my heart I labeled them as
- full of themselves,
- women who don't want to look their age,
- women who go to great extremes to look good.
God, grieved by my sinful and judgmental attitude, violently grabbed the corner of a veil and ripped it away exposing my heart. As clear as day, I could see the very characteristics that I had attributed to those women. I saw that my heart is full of pride, that I am full of myself, that I am a woman who does not want to look her age, and that I will go to extremes to look good. Indeed, I am no different than these women.
We live in a society that is obsessed with outward beauty. Combine the pressure and emphasis that our culture places on our shoulders with our self-centered, pride-saturated sin nature, and the result is an ever-raging battle. I look in the mirror, and to be honest with you, I really don't like seeing the signs of aging. The women I was judging live in and work for an industry that bases pretty much everything on outward beauty. They are under more pressure than I will ever experience. I may not have the money for multiple surgical procedures or for botox and skin resurfacing on my face; but I do spend money on products and try to accomplish much of what they seek to accomplish.
The reality is that we are aging and declining, inside and out. Because humanity rejected God, we are broken and aging. There is nothing attractive about it! Because of sin, our bodies are constantly changing. Yes, we have been made in the image of God and are created to bring Him glory...but because sin entered the world, we fall short of that purpose.
"...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Rom. 3:23
Internally, if we are submitting ourselves to Him and allowing Him to change us, we are being conformed to the image of God (which is beautiful!), even while our outward self is wasting away.
"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day." 2 Corinthians 4:16
Sin has left us with a body that is wasting away, and the battle to "make it beautiful" will continue until we die. Those precious women whose pictures I was analyzing, are in the same battle that I am in, only I have the benefit of having a perspective that has the hope of Christ as its basis.
Just as we have an internal desire to fight for physical health, I wonder if there is a similar internal desire to fight for a youthful appearance, to hold onto fading beauty. Maybe that is why I buy wrinkle-fighting creams and blotch-covering makeup...I don't know! But the one thing I do know is that I don't like what I see! I don't like the ever increasing lines around my eyes. I don't like that I have to work out more to keep my weight at bay or that my hair has turned gray. I just don't like it!
I don't like that my outward self is wasting away!
I will probably always attempt to look my best, and hopefully I won't go to any extremes! This is an area in which I continually fight for balance. I acknowledge that my heart is stinky, but God is changing it. I think there will always be an awareness that my outward man is wasting away. All I have to do is look in the mirror!
Just this morning I read this:
"Charles Wesley, in his famous hymn, says this: Adam's likeness, Lord, efface, Stamp Thine image in its place: Second Adam from above, Reinstate us in Thy love. "Efface" means "wipe" or "rub out." God is in the business of change. He's interested in making us like Jesus. He's restoring his image in us so that again we can know him...and reflect his glory."
I am thankful that my Savior is continuing to restore my inward-self to His image, and that one day I will fully reflect His glory (and that I will have a perfect body!).
(Wait...Did someone say something about a perfect body???)