The world defines beauty as a visually appealing attribute or quality that elicits a response such as a feeling of attraction, desire, or envy. Men and women want to experience it, attain it, and hold on to it.
We capture its fleeting essence in pictures, art, and stories. There is a yearning to slow down the moment or image, as if to milk every last drop out of it. We glorify it, idolize it and elevate beauty beyond the ordinary. This is beauty defined by societal norms.
Behind this yearning, there is, I believe, a conviction that somehow in the attainment of this “beauty,” one shall be set free from further pursuit of it and find fulfillment. But, as with other vain pursuits, this too, is a mere chasing after the wind. The grass withers…and the flower falls, and we are no more exempt from the grass and the flower than from the inevitable withering of our physical bodies.
But because we perceive beauty as a thing to be captured, we try to hold onto it. We Botox it, cut it up and distort the very process of aging, that which is, in itself, a beautiful thing.
And yet even knowing the truth and acknowledging the lie, I still can not escape the deep desire in my heart to be beautiful. Is that yearning bad? Or is it the memory of paradise, deeply distorted by the world, manifesting in an ache to be accepted, loved and affirmed through an outward emphasis on appearance?
I think our definition of beauty is wrong. We yearn for a perfect world and try to recreate it through distorted illusions. Because of sin we have forgotten the source of all that is beautiful.
Psalm 90:17 Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us and establish the work of our hands.’
Beauty is therefore an attribute of God. It glories not in itself but its profit to others. Beauty is giving not taking.
Psalm 27:4 King David says, “…one thing I ask of the Lord, that I will seek after, to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.”
Beauty brings life, healing and wholeness. It is justice, truth, righteousness, peace and strength. It is the ultimate desire to see and experience. It is tangible and eternal. It is that which touches the soul. Beauty is an encounter with the Creator.
Therefore, beauty is not a perfect body, complexion or fleshy form. Beauty is not a man or a woman, or a kitten or a sunset. Beauty is found in the artist and designer of all things: Jesus Christ.
My desire to be beautiful, if seen from this perspective, is really a cry for relationship and connection to God, to be naked and not be ashamed, to walk hand in hand with him in the Garden, and ultimately to behold his beauty with my very own eyes.