This is one of the things I love about blogdom.
The exchange of ideas and the intangible way someone else's heart calls forth a part of your own. This happened to me today. I was reading Alastair's blog Obscene Beauty and he was talking about Captivating and Women and Beauty. All topics near to my heart. Interestingly, the blog post that inspired Alastair was written by a woman I've admired for quite some time. Shawna Atteberry has a beautiful heart and a brilliant mind and she's not afraid to show us either! (grin) I always enjoy reading her blog. And this time, Shawna and I talk about this topic with somewhat different perspectives. And that's okay. Because, as I am learning, you don't have to agree with someone all the time in order love them, or like them, admire them, respect them. I know most of you have known this already, but bless my heart, just be happy for me that I am catching on. ;)
So on to beauty. and what it means to me.
After walking this out for the last 3 years, praying, meditating, seeking wise counsel, and doing the push/pull, 3-steps-forward-2-steps-back dance of discipleship, I have come to believe that embracing beauty, savoring it, and offering it to my world does matter to God.
Sarah Groves said is so well in her song Why It Matters, "sit with me and tell me once again of the story that's been told us, of the power that will hold us, of the beauty, of the beauty why it matters"
That's all flowery and Hallmark-cardish and nice, so I'll try to make this practical and clear. When I speak of offering my beauty to my world, what does that look like in behavior?
* Going for long walks or jogs along nature trails and drinking in the 200 shades of green with my eyes, listening to the birds singing and believing that with my sneakers pounding the pavement I'm praising God too.
* Caring for and cherishing myself enough to adorn myself in clothes that fit and flatter the body God gave me and taking a few minutes to care about adding some cute jewelry because it makes me feel good.
* Walking into the my sleeping children's bedrooms to check on them when I get home late from dance practice because I know they need my mother touch on their forehead and my kiss on their cheek even though their Daddy is the greatest and I'm sure he tucked them in just fine.
* Experiencing the freedom and discipline and joy of Christian sacred dance with a roomful of women of every color shape size and athletic ability.
* Sitting on a park bench watching our children play on the slides and swings while listening to one of my girlfriends share her struggles and really listening, squeezing her hand when it feels appropriate.
* Flirting with my husband by "accidentally" bending over to pick something off the kitchen floor thereby flashing him some cleavage and enjoying his goggle-eyed stare and delighted grins.
* Getting all muddy while coaxing color out of the ground in my garden
Nowhere in this list am I competing with Barbie, or defining myself by my waist size. And while doing these normal everyday things, do I feel I'm offering beauty that matters? You bet I do! (grin)
Shawna is a good woman, and a sister of mine from Emerging Women, Shawna's objections to Captivating echo similar concerns raised by others.
We live in such an image-concious culture. One of my girlfriends has a 10 year old daughter, a perfectly made, perfectly normal girl who has started talking about going on a diet. Anytime someone raises the topic of beauty, many women cringe, thinking, "Good Lord! This is where eating disorders come from!".
But, as Alastair said, let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
I'd venture to say we live in a world that is over-focused on image while being beauty-deficient.
But again, beauty can be a scary word. So many women have had the soul-draining experience of being seen purely as a hood ornament with their considerable talent, heart and brains being ignored. I'm very protective of Shawna's heart when she voices her concerns. Because it is true that 'man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart'. The same God, the same Bible also tells the story of Esther who prepared herself with a year of royal spa treatments before she offered her beauty to the king and offered her bravery to save Israel. Beauty and strength both matter.
Having said all that, since I have received such profound healing and restoration from God while reading and hearing all that Stasi and John poured into Captivating, I wanted to share my story.
I've also talked about Captivating in the long version of my story:
I've written so much about beauty on my blog, but I've never catalogued it as such. (makes mental note to add keyword beauty to several articles)
Oh and back to the song, I'll see if I can find a link to embed the song here. It really is one of those songs that gets inside your heart and lifts it up. Chris Rice (beloved lyricist in his own right) had some lovely things to say about this song.
Offer your beauty, one heartbeat at at time, ladies. It matters.