My three-year-old daughter stood in the doorway of her closet and pointed to a pink, ruffled dress. “That one!” she said, “That one makes me pretty!” As a typical woman who has struggled with body image issues most of my life, fear swept over me. I didn’t want my little girl to believe lies about beauty. “Oh, that dress doesn’t make you pretty,” I replied to her, “You’re already pretty. Who makes you pretty?” She knew the right answer from previous training. “God makes me pretty,” she said.
Beauty captures the eyes of little girls as soon as they can distinguish images. This is not by accident, either. Our God is a Creator, an Artist (Genesis 1:1). He purposefully designed our environment to hold beauty. And He purposefully created us to take in beauty. Colors in different shades and hues, objects with dimension and depth, and texture for every type of touch - all of the beauty and the ability to enjoy it is a gift from God.
The Two Lies Satan Uses to Distort Beauty
However, as is true with all of God’s good gifts, our enemy pounces on our minds and distorts God’s beauty. He distorts beauty in two ways: making it more than it was meant to be and less than it was meant to be.
Through the first lens of lies, only perfection is beautiful. We see how the world buys into that lie by what is popular in entertainment, fashion and popular culture.
Through the second lens of lies, anything is beautiful. We see the world buy into that lie in the ways we call good what God has clearly called sin.
We want our daughters to not believe either of these lies but to believe God’s truth about beauty.
In order to do that, we have to start early - yes, earlier than we think. From their first years, our daughters take in information about the definition of beauty. If we’re not armed to counteract that definition with the definition God gives us through His Word, then we’ll be playing catch-up as our girls grow.
Here are three truths to teach our daughters about beauty - not beauty the way the world sees it or Satan distorts it, but beauty the way God created it.
All Life Reflects Beauty
On Sunday mornings a father rolls his disabled daughter’s wheelchair into our church’s “theater.” The theater is an overflow auditorium for people to sit when the main auditorium is full. It’s a much more relaxed environment. There is stadium seating, but there are also round tables and even sofas. The band and message are not live in the theater, so it’s not as loud. These details make it the perfect place for parents to bring infants or young children. This is also where this father feels most comfortable bringing his daughter.
The girl is at least middle school age if not older, and you would never know she’s there except when you hear a loud moan. Along with physical differences, she also has mental differences. Sporadic moaning is a part of who she is.
Sometimes the dad will take her out into the lobby when she starts to moan, and I understand the reason - he doesn’t want to disturb the people around them. However, I feel the desire to run to the girl’s father and ask him not to take her away. “She’s not a bother,” I’d say, “Her voice brings joy.” When I hear the sound of the girl’s voice, I can’t help but imagine what God thinks when He hears it. I know He is not quick to roll her out of the room. To Him, it is evidence of life - His creation - a creation made in His image and whom He dearly loves.
All of life reflects beauty. In a world where life is marginalized from the tiniest form to the less-than-perfect to the wrong gender to the too-old, God does not see life that way. Any time we look at life we’re looking at a reflection of God. Of course, we are not physical reflections of God. He does not see what we see with our human eyes. He sees the unseen. Which leads me to the next truth about beauty.
True Beauty is Unseen
Sometimes my girls ask me what they will be able to take with them to heaven. Usually, this includes them naming each of their toys hoping that just one will come with them. In their childlike minds, there is nothing worse than the thought of going anywhere for long without their toys. But aren’t we the same way? Sure, it’s not toys we’re trying to confiscate into heaven, but our thoughts and behaviors reveal the value we put on physical beauty as if we can somehow sneak our bodies into heaven.
Second Corinthians 4:16 tells us that our outer selves are “wasting away.” I didn’t believe this would happen. Then I turned 40. Evidence of a wasting away body began to appear. However, the other part of 2 Corinthians 4:16 tells us that our inner selves are being “renewed day by day.” So our bodies are becoming “less” in earthly beauty but our inner selves, our souls, are becoming more beautiful. Knowing this truth, it becomes obvious that God values the unseen more than the seen.
Now beauty is relative, and I know God does not see our outward bodies as we see them at any age. To Him, the wrinkles, limp, and extra pudge are equally as beautiful as the baby smooth skin, energetic body, and sharp mind. However, our outer selves are not becoming more beautiful as we define beauty. Our inner selves are. God chose to leave our bodies on earth when we die and only take our souls. He also chose to give us new bodies when Jesus returns and a new earth is created. Obviously, He values our unseen souls more than our seen bodies.
Bible Verses on Unseen Beauty
Two verses that expound on this truth are Ecclesiastes 3:11 and 1 Samuel 16:7. Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us, “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” True beauty is a process. Just like it takes time for seen, physical muscles to grow, it takes time for unseen, spiritual souls to grow. However, we put more energy into expounding upon our outward beauty while neglecting our hearts.
The second verse that explains the value of our unseen souls is 1 Samuel 16:7. In this verse, Samuel had traveled to Bethlehem at God’s request to meet with Jesse and choose one of his sons as the next king of Israel. While in Bethlehem God gives Samuel instructions on choosing the next king. “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” 1 Samuel 16:7.
As we evaluate our own beauty and the beauty of others, it’s important we look through flesh and deeper into souls. Our unseen souls are seen through our actions. “The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).
Beauty Comes in Suffering
We do not equate suffering to beauty. Think of the most beautiful images in our world - a bride in her white gown, the sun shining over ocean waves, a newborn baby’s first grin, a field of flowers, a child sleeping. The pain of suffering does not fill our hearts when we imagine each of them. However, a Christian lives in God’s economy - an economy that puts earthly realities upside down.
The Gospel is a story of suffering and yet it is the most beautiful love story this world has ever experienced. Our God chose to come to earth as a physical man whom He named Jesus and rescue us through unimaginable suffering. He was mocked, beaten, and nailed to a Cross to die. But then the beauty came. In His sovereignty, He defeated death and rose again into life. Today Jesus is alive in heaven.
Because of Jesus’ resurrection we, too, have the opportunity to rise up into newness of life when we die. However, it’s not just at death that this new life begins. It’s right now. Jesus’ suffering created beauty in our souls. As we talked about above in 2 Corinthians 4:16, our inner selves are being renewed right now because Christ’s resurrection reflects our resurrection when we give our lives to Him.
Not only is this true in Jesus’ suffering, but it’s also true in our personal suffering as we live out our lives in this world. Our suffering makes our hearts more beautiful. It is through suffering that they are renewed day by day. “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).
As our daughters develop their definition of beauty, we need to be diligent to teach them these three truths from God's Word. It's through these truths that they will experience true joy in the creations they are in Christ.
Brenda Rodgers is the wife to a heart-transplant hero and the mama of two little girl miracles. She lives in Georgia where she enjoys southern culture and her home built in 1900. She writes at BrendaRodgers.com about being a girl-mom, mentoring young women, and life in the south. Her hope is to use her personal life experiences to show other people Jesus. Brenda would love to connect with you on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.
Originally published Wednesday, 26 February 2020.