They say “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” but I would like to challenge this statement and say that true beauty is actually very universal. It is universal in that most all people can see or recognize beauty that springs from the inside out. I’ve often marveled at the sight of a child running into the arms of an elderly man/ woman with joy in their hearts, the love for a mother on her death bed that sees beyond the physical and into the heart and soul, and a smile on the face of a cancer patient that can light up a room. I marvel because the simple definition of beauty according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary is:
: the quality of being physically attractive
: the qualities in a person or a thing that give pleasure to the senses or the mind
: a beautiful woman
If beauty were only physical attraction then yes I could see how it would be determined by the beholder, but beauty goes deeper than that. We, as a people, enjoy looking at different things and find different attributes attractive. Some like long hair, some like short hair, some like dark skinned and some light, etc., but true beauty will shine through a person regardless of their physical attributes. Leading into the next postulate of the definition we see “the qualities in a person or a thing that give pleasure to the senses or the mind,” and that is the key! A physically beautiful man or woman has the ability to destroy and corrupt a lover. A truly beautiful man or woman would have the ability to build up, encourage, and instill a sense of beauty into the other person. This is why children can run to an elderly person, whose physical beauty has faded but whose internal light brings warmth and a sense of belonging, how a husband can look at his 90 year old wife and call her beautiful, or someone who is truly not beautiful by any societal standard can deliver food to the homeless and be called lovely-or a blessing. Because true beauty gives pleasure to ones heart, mind, and soul. Physical beauty fades like the wind and can be thrown away. Physical beauty isn’t lasting beauty, because everything that was once lustrous will one day be dull. Every beautiful person will one day be wrinkled and not as physically charming. So, to the one who makes physical beauty a life pursuit please beware! You will one day realize that beauty does not determine your worth–and it is fleeting. To the one who falls for a beautiful man or women, beware because they won’t always be so beautiful! It is better to fall in love with someones character and heart.
As someone who has been called beautiful, or pretty, I’ve struggled internally with an aging self. I’ve wondered why people hold physical beauty at such a high value when it is so corruptive to the spirit and soul. It is like having a gift that can corrupt you to the core! It is easy to become arrogant, conceited, and prideful when you are physically attractive. It is easy to hurt other people because, for some reason, they trust you or want to be around you–just because of your physical characteristics. Beautiful people seem to be the more popular. They have more followers on Facebook, Instagram, etc.. Especially if they’ve learned to flaunt their beauty and physical attributes. Celebrities are beautiful and everyone lets them know it. But what is it worth to have one hundred people call you beautiful when you’ve posted a photo of yourself (or a part of yourself)? Is it worth posting another to feed your inner self worth? What do you do when the number goes down to 50 instead of 100? Do you work harder on your physical appearance for the next photo? What about when they stop telling you you are beautiful all together? Who will you be then? THAT is where true beauty shines through. It isn’t in the number of people who look your way when you walk into a room; it is at the number of people who look forward to talking with you and spending time with you because around you they feel loved, respected, and cherished.
True beauty makes others feel cherished and special. It is everlasting because it isn’t conceited or vain. The Bible describes beauty so wonderfully and couldn’t be more accurate! In Proverbs 31: 30 it says, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” I’ve often pondered the meaning of this verse, but its become more and more apparent to me as I get older. Charm can make you feel loved or make others feel as if they love you when they really don’t; beauty is vain because you can value yourself more than others who are less beautiful, and you can use your beauty to lure others into temptation, all of which could easily be defined as bad character– but a woman who fears the Lord, and puts others ahead of herself, SHE is the one who will be praised! Jesus had no physical beauty in him, says the Bible (Isaiah 53:2), in yet He is most beautiful in the sight of those who call on His name for remission of their sins. He is most beautiful to those who realize the Grace and Love that He has extended to them. A woman washed a physically ugly man’s feet with her tears and dried them with her hair (Luke 7) because, to her, He was a treasure to behold. To her he was beautiful even if not physically.
My desire is not to be called “pretty” any more, but to be cherished for who I am. For my values and love for others. I do not care to be called beautiful because of what I look like, but because I’ve brought joy to another person. Because I put the feelings of others above my own! A truly beautiful person is one who brings food to people in need. To those who are hungry the hands that bring food are beautiful; to those who are hurting the shoulder to lean on is beautiful; to those who are physically not attractive the person who sees their soul is beautiful. A beautiful person will not look down upon someone with physical impairments but will help them. A beautiful person has a beautiful heart and compassion for others, and this is universal! A physically ugly person can be seen as beautiful when they are caring for you in your affliction. Jesus was beautiful to many even with no physical reason for anyone to “desire” him.
Let us raise our children to not love themselves because of their physical beauty, but because of their internal beauty and character. Don’t let your children believe the only reason you love them is their physical appearance. Instead instill in them a value for themselves based on their character. This will make them more confident people who are willing to help others instead of looking down on them. Let us also go into the world and show others the beauty of a Godly person without vanity and conceit in our hearts. Care for others, love others, encourage others, and show compassion. If you do these things, even if you happen to be physically beautiful as well, your beauty will not fade with age and time. This Biblical beauty will not tarnish or fade, but will last in the hearts and minds of people long after you die!