John & Staci Eldredge have written a wonderful book called Captivating, it is one I highly recommend to all women. Plus I would recommend that men read it as well, especially men who have daughters. The workbook that goes with it poses a question; Are you being sought after these days?
Whatever else it means to be feminine, it is depth and mystery and complexity, with beauty as their very essence.
Now, lest despair set in, let us say as clearly as we can:
Every woman has a beauty to unveil.
Because she bears the image of God.
What if? What if this really is true about you–that you are a captivating woman? Let your heart go there for a moment; what does it bring?
As I’ve thought about these questions I realize it brings me hope, hope that I can rest, hope that I need not fear beauty, hope that God will show me my beauty and as He shows me I can allow Him to romance me.
My ache is to know that my Lord sees me a beautiful, whatever that may fully mean I want to learn, to know, to understand.
I have always been afraid of being beautiful, of my essence being beauty. Yes I understand beauty is the essence of the feminine soul but it scares me. I have always been known as a feminine, graceful woman, I know that’s how others see me but I don’t see myself that way, I want to. Yet at the same time it scares me because it is the very place where the enemy wounded me. When I was 14 and was being raped by two guys (I was drugged at the time with the date rape drug, but I came to long enough to know what was happening). While I was being raped they kept telling me over and over how beautiful I was. What do you think happened to that young soul? She began to fear beauty, it meant she was something to be admired, sought after but abused.
She was betrayed by beauty.
So that’s why beauty scares me and truthfully I don’t think I fully understand or can embrace (yet) what John and Staci are saying. In the last few years I have slowly begun to ask Jesus to show me my beauty. I see beauty all around me and I love beauty but how do I see myself? How does Jesus see me? I’ve always seen myself as plain and not beautiful, it’s a feeling of ambivalence, desiring to be beautiful yet being afraid to be beautiful.
Something happened not to long ago in church and I know God used to get my attention; He was trying to speak to my heart. During our worship time we took some time to greet one another. As I freely moved about greeting people, which let me clarify has become much easier for me since I used to stay in my seat and let people come to me, but I can now move about and hug and greet people because I desire to connect with them. Well, something happened that was totally unexpected and shook me to the core, after one woman hugged me she took me by the shoulders, looked straight into my eyes and said- you are so beautiful.
Huh?? I really didn’t know how to respond. I politely said thank you and took my seat and for the rest of the service I struggled with desiring to believe and accept the compliment but at the same time wanting to reject it. Later as I shared this with my husband he simply smiled and agreed. But then he asked-” you don’t let these compliments penetrate your heart do you?” We both knew the answer. Compliments of any kind never penetrate my heart.
Later that day I prayed from my heart, “Lord Jesus soften my heart, show me my beauty, and then romance me. I am afraid; I have connected beauty with pain. It assaulted my essence as a young girl and I have hardened my heart all these years to beauty, to how you see me, to how my husband sees me or how others may see me. I don’t want to live this way any more. Beauty has betrayed me; yes that’s what it is. I know because of the abuses in my past that beauty sparks within me the fear of danger and of being dangerous to others coexists within my heart. Come Lord Jesus come. If I allow my heart to soften and hear how you find me beautiful, will you betray me? My head says no but my heart is afraid. But I want to trust you Jesus, I want to trust you.”
This past winter while watching The Lord Of the Rings again, I saw in Arwen her beauty. I saw more than her outward beauty. I saw her beauty as strength, as rest, as confidence, as peaceful, as trust, as hope and most of all as love. I saw in her what my heart longs for, too much for words to express- that she is enough. That’s my ache. To be enough, to know in my quiet center where God dwells that He finds me beautiful, has deemed me worthy, and in Him I am enough. He will not betray me. He continues to show me what beauty really is.