I am so sorry, girls....I had my post all ready to go and totally forgot to post it before I ran off to work this morning! Here it is, but make sure you don't miss Bethany's post right below mine! :)
I had seen her in pictures and I knew that she was very pretty, but I was not prepared for the breath-taking beauty that walked into church that morning. I could easily see why my brothers were smitten with her. Silver rings graced her fingers and bracelets dangled from her slender wrists. Her hair was swept up in a loose bun with wisps of hair framing her face and just barely covering the diamonds in her ears. Her dark eyes lit up when she smiled and communicated energy, life and love. Though barely seventeen, here was a young woman with the power to give life or to destroy it perhaps without ever knowing.
As I thought about this young woman and the effect that she could potentially, if not already, have on my brothers and all the other men and boys that she will meet throughout her life I realized something that I had not really given much thought to before. At least, not in quite the same way.
All my life I have been taught at my parents' side, from the pulpit and straight from the Scriptures that a woman should focus on cultivating that inner beauty that comes from being wholly submitted to Jesus Christ. But the thing that most people never mentioned was the importance of being physically beautiful as well.
In the book of Ezekiel, chapter 16, God describes how He took His Bride and clothed her with linen and silk and put bracelets on her arms, a chain about her neck, a jewel on her forehead, earrings in her ears and a crown on her head.
From studying both Scripture and God's Creation around us, I think it is very obvious that God loves beauty. He created women to be beautiful and He designed men to want a beautiful woman. He created the flowers in the field "which today is and tomorrow is thrown into the oven". He created the sky with it's alternately brilliant hues of blue, red, yellow, purple, green. The peacock is known for its vibrant feathers and the monarch butterfly with its bright orange wings. Who is to say that God does not love physical beauty?
When Paul exhorted women to, "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;" (1 Tim. 2:9) I believe that he was not telling them that being outwardly beautiful means nothing and should be not be thought of at all. He did not mean that all women who strive to follow Christ should throw away all of their jewels and pretty clothes and never braid their hair. Not at all for this would not be consistent with the rest of Scripture.
His point seems to be that, as followers of Christ, women should be more concerned with inner beauty rather than being like the women of that time who did little else than make themselves beautiful by braiding gold and jewels into their hair (this was a woman's dowry usually worth thousands of dollars and used to show off her wealth to potential suitors) and dressing themselves in expensive and usually revealing clothing.
Back to my story...I sat there in church thinking about what a precious gift that God has given this girl and how she might use it and I realized that God has given every woman that same gift each in her own unique way, including me. The gift of beauty. This gift has been used for evil throughout the history of the earth, but it was originally intended for good. I got to thinking about different things that I could change in myself in order to use the gift given to me in order to glorify my Lord.
I realized that cultivating inner beauty is the most important aspect of a beautiful woman and it is the only facet of beauty that can stand on its own. But it is not the only facet of beauty that is commendable. If a younger woman who perhaps was compromised and not seeking God met another young woman a little older than her...would she be more apt to look up to that sister and want to be like her if the other woman took care to be strong and healthy and carefully dressed herself in a way that enhanced her beauty and made people say, "There goes a lovely woman." when she walked in the room? I got to thinking that if a teenage girl were going after the world and she met me, could I have an influence on her? Would she be intrigued to find that it is possible to be both modest and tastefully dressed? Would she be inspired to be lovely rather than trendy? Or would she look at me and think that I was just another conservative homeschooled graduate trying not to be too attractive...and succeeding at it?
I wondered also if I might perhaps use this gift and any influence that God gives me, to turn my brothers and other young men toward the right path by influencing those women who can do them so much damage or so much good?
I hope that as I grow older, I will be for younger sisters what my older sister and a few others have been for me. I hope that I can pass on what I learn about what true beauty looks like and draw others to follow my Lord as well.