Background to the secret: a lecture on beauty

(Fasten your seatbelts. This one takes a bit to develop.)

Corporate Confession 1: We humans are obsessed with feminine beauty.

We measure it by radiant complexions, sparkling eyes, lustrous hair, and Barbie figures.

Corporate Confession 2: We human Christians are also obsessed with feminine beauty.

Some of us measure it by radiant complexions, sparkling eyes, lustrous hair, and Barbie figures.

Some of us reject all that, and measure it by more lasting standards of inner beauty, such as how plainly one dresses, and how prettily one teaches Sunday school.

Corporate Confession 3: Our planet is becoming choked with material on this subject—from both secular and Christian camps—books upon books, movies, articles, propaganda, music, pictures, websites, and now (atop all that!) this unnecessary blog post.

Everyone has something to say! And each has the key secret to making sense of the whole topic! Check out these real titles, just seven I picked out of approximately 45,970,201. If reading over them makes you feel uptight, laugh out loud. It helps.

How to be Beautiful: The Thinking Woman’s Guide

You’re Already Amazing: Embracing Who You Are, Becoming All God Created You to Be

The Truth About Beauty: Transform Your Looks And Your Life From The Inside Out

The World’s Best Kept Beauty Secrets: What Really Works In Beauty, Diet & Fashion

Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul

Radiant: Discovering Beauty from the Inside Out

Thank God I’m Natural

Personal Confession 1: I feel both attracted and repulsed by what these titles represent—the idea that confident beauty is just around the corner. I want beauty. And maybe these books would offer me something of value. But our obsessing makes me tired.

Personal Confession 2: Sometimes I find Christian teaching on beauty as wearisome as secular. There is an entire warehouse-ful of “It doesn’t matter; be lovely on the inside” jargon, and ten more entire warehouse-fuls of “God thinks you’re BEAUTIFUL!” assurances.

Do you believe God thinks you’re beautiful? Do the confident assurances get to your heart? I have never found them convincing.

So, show me. Chapter and verse.

But no one can. I don’t think it’s there, not so neatly as we’d like, unless you paraphrase with a liberal hand.

Plus, if everyone is stunning no one is. We try to find a hundred ways around it, but deep down we know that we are not created equal in this regard. Some women are beautiful. Some are not. We don’t want to admit it, but we know it’s true. What then??

I have gone through all kinds of roller coasters on this issue, but in the end, here’s what set me free.

Personal Confession 3: I don’t know if God thinks I’m beautiful, but this I know He thinks—

I am precious.

Each of you knows what it’s like to have a face carved in your heart. Perhaps it once meant nothing to you, but now it is sacred—each line, each curve, each color, each nuance etched on your soul. A face you wouldn’t change, no matter what. A face you would die for.

What is mother love or sweetheart love compared to God’s love? If we are precious to each other, how much more are we precious to Him? He made you.

He sees you. He alone sees all of it—the blemishes, the beauties, the intricate internals, the surface blushes. And Scripture is full to bursting of His declarations of love, His displays of tenderness. He loves you completely.

But that’s my soul—you protest. How do I know that…?

Oh? Since when does God separate spirit from flesh, except in death? Are you disembodied? He made it all! with infinite care. His plan includes it all! He’s going to redeem it all!

He loves


You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.

What kind of love looks at its darling with dismissal or scorn? Even we selfish humans know better, and reverence the body and face of the beloved.

You are precious to Him. Every line of your face, every curve of your body, every freckle, every hair so carefully placed. He took infinite trouble to create you, when He could have made people with cookie-cutters. You are etched on His heart. Precious.

Do you know why every bride is radiant?

Because she is deeply loved.

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11 years ago

Thank you, Shari. I needed this. I bookmarked this and will read it again when– well anytime, and many times.

Mom Coblentz
11 years ago

BEAUTIFUL, and insightful!! Thanks.

11 years ago

If you would write a book on beauty, at least this kind of beauty, I would read it at least 5 times. 🙂 I love what you have to say here. I am thinking…. We all desire physical beauty but what we really are crying for even more is to know that we are of intrinsic value to someone, that we are precious. We somehow are convinced that achieving a certain level of physical beauty will cut it. It doesn’t.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Shari!

11 years ago
Reply to  Shaunda

I would love to write a book on beauty, but I can’t. I just said nearly everything I know on the subject. 🙂

11 years ago

I don’t know if I’ve ever thought about it like this before, but it makes so much sense. Thank you for sharing!

11 years ago

Awesome Shari!! Such good insight on thoughts and feelings that have tumbled around many times in my head!Thanks for putting it in words!!Blessings on your day!!

11 years ago

Beauty as a response to knowing love. This I can get behind. And your writing reached deeply into my heart. Thank you.

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