Disclaimer: I hesitate to write this because it feels like such a sensitive subject. But I think it’s vital, so write I will.
I work at a nonprofit two days a week. We’re an adoption and orphan care ministry based in Castle Rock, and I’m the Development/Marketing Intern, which means I help with a lot of the social media for the organization, blogging, graphic design, edits and designs for reports and magazines, etc. We use a lot of photos and visuals for the different things I work on. And yesterday, part of my job was to help get new photos of all the staff members for the website! You would think this would be fairly simple- until you realize that all except for one member of the staff are women.
The email about staff photos was sent out the day before we took them, and a few responses were sent back like, “You need to give us more notice, it takes longer than a day to get this face looking perfect!” I laughed at first, as I’ve found this is pretty typical of most women. They hate getting their picture taken, put up a fight, and insist that no photo looks the way they want it to.
But then after the staff meeting we reminded everyone of photos, and asked them to come with us outside after the meeting was over so that we could get their photos. A handful of women simply refused, saying they didn’t feel well or didn’t look good today or what have you, or that their old photos were fine; a few came out and very begrudgingly let us get some photos of them, all while saying their hair didn’t look good or that we really should give a lot more notice; and the last precious few came out and rocked it, unleashing their inner super model and letting us capture their beauty for a few minutes.
To be totally honest with you, the overall project (which only took about thirty minutes) felt like trying to pull glass out of a child’s foot. To see these women, who I genuinely think are absolutely beautiful, be so hard on themselves and have such low self confidence was heartbreaking to me. Each one of them is unique, with a unique face shape and body shape and hair style and eye color. But each one of them is undoubtedly stunning, both inside and out (I know that sounds cliche, but it’s true). They pour their hearts and souls into their work and they do it for Jesus, and they laugh and smile and operate from a place of passion. I wish I could somehow capture that on a camera.
I get being uncomfortable in front of a camera, or not knowing what to do. I’m the same way when it comes to just being awkward in front a camera. But this felt deeper than just awkwardness. This whole experience got me thinking about women and beauty in general. I thought about myself. I think in most situations, I have fun in front of a camera, especially if I’m allowed to goof off or pose with other people. But there are times, when if it’s just me in front of a camera, I become tense and unsure of what to do; I become uncomfortable. I wouldn’t say I usually put up a fight, but I definitely have my moments. I’m speaking as much to myself as to anyone else. And I think the last thing any of us needs is another post about how society imposes unachievable standards on women, or how perfect skin and hair only come from photoshop. There’s truth to all of these things, but I think they are only common, outward symptoms of a deadly lie that has taken root in far too many women. A lie that they aren’t enough, and they actually don’t have any beauty to reveal.
Think about it: “You need to give me more notice- it takes more than a day to get my face looking perfect!” What a load of kaka. Or “Delete that! Look at what my hair is doing!” Or even the fact that the large majority of women won’t leave the house without makeup on. What is it that makes us as women so afraid to just be? Where did that belief that we aren’t beautiful on our own come from? Why do we insist that we are less than, that we don’t deserve to be admired for our beauty or appreciated exactly as we are, even though deep down that is one of the loudest cries and longings of our hearts? Something went wrong, and somewhere along the line of our lives we traded the truth of God for a lie.
Women- the very essence of your existence, of your soul and of your person, is beautiful. Really. You are. Beauty is written on the DNA of your heart, and that is a very good thing. Because where men are designed to reflect God in their strength, ,women are designed to reflect God in their beauty. Because isn’t God beautiful? Look around at His creation, the majesty of the mountains and the rolling waves of the ocean and the rich blue of the sky. Creation is only beautiful because it’s Creator IS beauty. The very fact that God formed Eve as His final act of creation should show women that we are the grand finale, the final swell of the orchestra that calls for applause, the crown that is placed on top (go read Stacy Eldredge’s book Captivating, pleeaaase). We aren’t better than men, we simply reflect God’s heart in a way that is wholly unique to us- through His undeniable and transcendent beauty. And I know that the majority of you reading this are probably already saying in your heart, “Well maybe I was designed to be beautiful, but I’m not.” STOP THAT. Why do we do that?
Deep down we don’t actually believe that there is something transcendent and stunning about us. We poke fun at our looks not because we are having fun with ourselves, but because deep down we actually aren’t confident that we’re beautiful, and we think there’s a degree of truth to what we are saying. The enemy has marvelously twisted the truth and whispered lies to our hearts that we are average, that we aren’t enough, that we aren’t worth it, because He knows that if we don’t actually believe we’re beautiful, then he can not only keep us trapped, but he can keep countless others trapped too. Allow me to explain.
Beauty brings rest. When we need to escape life, when we need to remember who we are, most of us seek out beauty: nature, beautiful music, the stunning colors and strokes of artwork, the beauty of poetry or stories. Beauty has the power to remind us of who and whose we are, it has the power to point us back to the Creator. Beauty invites, beauty restores, and beauty helps to bring new life. And as women, we have the ability to naturally do this better than anything else in creation, because we are the essence of God’s beauty. Let that sink in. You bring life. You nurture life. You invite and restore. And if you don’t believe that is who you are, then not only are you kept from the full freedom of life that God has for you, but those around you are often kept from that fullness as a result. Too many women are always striving to be more, to do more, to look better, to be better (guilty as charged). Striving invites chaos. But when we operate from a place of being, we operate knowing that we are all we are meant to be through Christ, and we are then ten times more effective in every way of life (and ten times more joyful because we aren’t having to try hard anymore but are just being!). Beauty is powerful. YOU are powerful. Your words are powerful, your presence is powerful, your being is powerful, because you are beautiful.
No wonder the enemy tries to make us compare our beauty to the beauty of others. If he can make us think we are less than, he wins in more ways than one. No wonder he tries to make us believe we are meant to be held to a standard of perfection- he knows perfection is never attainable this side of heaven, and if he can make us feel like failures for not looking or being perfect than he keeps us and countless others trapped. If he can make us agree with the lie that we aren’t enough and we aren’t worth it, then he gets to hold a level of authority over our identity and keeps us striving instead of thriving from being at rest in the Lord. WHY do we let him defile us like that??
Ladies, as children of God, beauty is what you are. Beauty is who you are. Beauty is not to be written off, not to be strived for, not to be earned, because it simply is you. Please please please don’t write this off. Linger on it. Pray over it. Embrace it as truth and begin uprooting the lies that you aren’t enough. You can never be any more or any less beautiful than you are right now. Beauty is your honor and your power and your existence because it is how God uniquely designed you to reflect Him. And when we begin to live and operate from that truth, cameras shouldn’t scare us anymore. Being with OR without makeup shouldn’t scare us anymore. A flyaway hair shouldn’t scare us anymore. Living in boldness and speaking truth over those we love shouldn’t scare us anymore. Making gutsy faith-based decision shouldn’t scare us anymore. Because beauty is who we are, and His perfect love for us casts out all fear and unworthiness.
Your beauty is true, and it is essential for your freedom and the freedom of the souls around you. Precious daughter, please rest in the un-shaking truth that you are beautiful. And don’t be afraid to unleash your supermodel in front of that camera.
“You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.” -Song of Songs 4:7