|© emily cain|
and no beauty that we should desire him.
If there's something that Jesus didn't have, it would have to be physical beauty. This man didn't have the looks everyone craved and yet he was the man crowds wanted. But we must first define beauty in order to cultivate our own true beauty.
Beauty [ˈbjuːtɪ] : the combination of all the qualities of a person or thing that delight the senses and please the mind; The quality that gives pleasure to the mind or senses and is associated with such properties as harmony of form or color, excellence of artistry, truthfulness, and originality; a very attractive and well-formed girl or woman.
From this definition, beauty is composed of elements or attributes that shape or give form.
In spiritual terms, character is what shapes us, giving beauty a greater depth & quality to who we are.
Jesus had all the traits: obedience, love, understanding, truthfulness, wisdom, and patience—just to name a few. These traits made him attractive to those he came across with, not his eyes, body shape, skin color or the shape of his nose.
But how can we cultivate true beauty?
1. Seek God. Prayer, bible reading & fasting are major foundations of true beauty. You can be someone you don't believe in, so you pray. You can't imitate someone you don't know well, so you learn about God in the Scriptures. You can't live out Scripture if you're not willing to sacrifice for God, so you fast. Jesus spent countless times in prayer, he knew the Scriptures enough to teach in the temple & he fasted.
2. Love others. Vanity, pride & greed follow those who only love themselves. This was true for me when I noticed that I was more willing to please people than to love them. I was only giving a false image of love AND falling pray to vanity & pride while shielding myself behind Jesus. I was the ugliest person I knew. Selflessness is attractive; selfishness isn't. Take the time to think less of yourself and more about others.
3. Focus less on your appearance. If you buy more fashion magazines than what you give to missions, there's a problem. Looking good is not a sin, but being consumed with it is. Stop trying to compete with your friends & stop complaining about your looks. A pretty face won't last forever & keeping up with trends is like chasing the wind. At the end of the day, what seems more fitting? To spend so much money, time & energy for something that will fade or to spend money, time & energy in developing character qualities that will contribute to the cause your Savior gave his life for?
4. Volunteer. Look for non-profit organizations (not Toms or Invisible Children) that will take you out of your comfort zone. Go to an after-school program and mentor someone in a sport or skill. Go to an evangelism event in a bad neighborhood and dare to talk to kids your age about what they have to face everyday & offer hope. Take care of some elders. Make a bake sale to help send someone on a mission trip or to help pay for their schooling. You probably have needs too but that doesn't mean you can't help meet someone else's. Give back to your community!
5. Practice silence & solitude. The discipline of silence & solitude is one of the scariest ones because the voice of your flesh is really loud. This is where you see the ugliness of your sins and how they taint the beauty of the Spirit inside you. Once you start cultivating the beautiful qualities of Christ, pride will try to take credit for them. Here is when you must tune your ear & remind yourself of how much you need the beauty of Christ to shine upon you. You, apart from Christ, will never be beautiful.
This post was written for the Femininity Series on Natalie's blog back in April.