Friday, November 6, 2009

Beauty Within

We all like beautiful things. We enjoy being in beautiful places, we want beautiful objects in our homes, and we even like to look at beautiful people. God made a wide variety of beautiful creations in this world for us to enjoy, and He's given us the creativity and artistry to make things of beauty ourselves. However, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. My husband thinks I look beautiful, but a lot of people don't. Some people think desert landscapes are lovely and some people don't. Some people are touched by Michelangelo's paintings on the ceiling of the Sistene Chapel, and some people aren't. King Solomon compared his beloved's hair to a flock of goats (Song 4:1), and even though he was using that comparison to express her beauty, a lot of us don't find that appealing at all. There is no set definition of physical or artistic beauty. We all have different aesthetic tastes, and that is why it is marvelous that our world holds such variety.

Physical beauty is enjoyable, but we could enjoy a much deeper and profound kind of beauty if we're willing to seek it out. Every soul made by God is beautiful because He made it in His own image. While there are many different ideas about physical beauty, I think there is an easy way to define inner beauty: likeness to God. God is love, and love is the most beautiful thing there is. Every reflection of God inside our souls—every bit of kindness, generosity, justice, and righteousness—is beautiful. Seeing that kind of beauty in each other is like getting the chance to look at God, even if we only get to see a faint reflection. Inner beauty requires more of us—it's not as flashy or obvious, so we have to pay attention or we won't notice it. Still, I've realized that the beauty within is also much deeper and more powerful than the beauty on the surface. I can feast my eyes on a beautiful sight, but my joy at encountering a beautiful soul transcends my senses.

We can get so distracted by physical beauty that we let it rob us of the chance to enjoy the beauty within. When I meet someone, what am I paying attention to most? Am I looking at their face or their figure or the clothes they're wearing? Or am I listening to what they're saying and looking for their story and discerning their personality? I may find the most beautiful and amazing treasure inside people who repulse me a little on the outside. Am I willing to go search for that treasure, to see what's really there on the inside? As a person who's struggled with my weight my entire life, I've often felt that I couldn't get people to look past my body to see the real me. Now I want to challenge myself not to suffer from that limitation myself. There's so much beauty inside the people who are all around me, and I want to discover it. I really do enjoy being in the mountains and looking at amazing paintings and watching beautiful actresses and handsome actors onscreen, but none of those things can give me the incredible joy that I feel when I see a beautiful soul.

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