THE ABIDING LIFE  



Am I spiritually beautiful?


By Gwen Sellers



Are you ever afraid to look at yourself in the mirror? Not excited to see that too-squished nose or those crooked teeth? Jutting your chin in such a way to get the best profile possible, but still finding yourself ugly? Perhaps pinching your cheeks to try to get a ruddy glow before turning away in defeat? You are not alone. The Dove® Campaign for Real Beauty recently released a video in which women described themselves to a sketch artist, generally over-stating their supposed flaws. The women also described a woman they'd gotten to know a bit in the waiting area, generally emphasizing her beauty. It is a touching video for anyone with body-image issues—woman or man. There was also a spoof video created in which the "experiment" was performed with men, who overstated their own looks. While I do not believe men are without body-image issues, seeing the contrast sparked several thoughts. I will not address the issue of appearance and using our bodies to determine our worth here. However, I do find the videos interesting in terms of how I view myself spiritually. Let me explain.

I am afraid to see my own ugliness.

In terms of spirituality, I am more like the men in the Dove Campaign spoof. I like to think I'm great. I hide my flaws, understating them. I over-emphasize the aspects I like. Sin, sure it's a problem, but not a big one. Really, my most prominent feature is how much I love God and how much I know about Him.

This realization disgusts me.

True beauty comes not from masking the flaws, but from baring them to the One who makes beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3; Ecclesiastes 3:11). Jesus is our Redeemer; He rescues us from the ugliness of our own hearts (Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 5:8-9; 2 Corinthians 5:21). It is when I fully understand my own lack of beauty, that I truly appreciate the grace of God (Luke 7:41-43; Romans 5:20-21). If I am too afraid to admit my own depravity, I will never be truly free from its chains. Ephesians 2:1, 4-5 says, "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, [] But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved." If I cannot see my own spiritual decay, how can I become alive? If I fail to understand my deceased state apart from Christ, how can I fully appreciate His life?

I need to learn from that spoof video of the men—I am too easily blind to my own flaws and out of touch with reality. I'm less beautiful than I think.

But I also need to learn from the original Dove Campaign video of the women. I cannot linger in a state of noticing only the unattractive parts of my soul. I need to remember that God has redeemed me. I am a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)! There is beauty here—deep beauty. The beauty is not made by my own efforts, just as I had nothing to do with the shape of my nose. But that doesn't mean I can't appreciate it and recognize its attractiveness. In fact, when I do, I bring glory to God.

Extolling the work of God in my life, allowing the beauty He has created to shine through, is part of what I was built for. Isaiah 43:7 tells us we were formed and made for God's glory. God's glory is not about ego. To glorify God is to recognize His weight and His worth. To glorify God is to see and proclaim His significance. And in so doing we experience pleasure. We become significant ourselves because we see our part in His story. No longer do we have to run from our flaws. God's beauty far outweighs it. In dwelling on His beauty and reminding ourselves of His work in our lives, we see the beauty He instills in us. We begin to experience true life. We come to understand that this One who is beyond our comprehension (Isaiah 55:8-9) truly loves us. And we become free to delight in Him (Psalm 27:4; 37:4; John 17:3-5, 22).



Image Credit: Christina Saint Marche; "Masked!..."; Creative Commons



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Published on 5-16-13