Sunday, May 19, 2013
Do I Look Pretty?
DO. NOT. LOOK. AT. THAT. FLOWER.
Do not admire it. Do not appreciate it. Do not even compliment it. After all, it was designed by a Creator. And we should only thank the Creator for making the flower. "That flower is pretty!" is NOT an acceptable comment. "What a beautiful scent!" is also totally wrong.
Does that sound acceptable, or do I sound like an idiot? ;)
Would you agree that most of the time, the acceptable way to appreciate natural beauty is to praise it AND praise God for it?
Oookay. So let's move from the third day of creation to the sixth. And...not to the animals. To humans!
Recently, there's been an argument put forward that it is wrong for a guy to compliment a girl. It is that subject I'm attempting to address in a fashion today.
Okay, so maybe the flowers don't have feelings that can be affected by such comments. If they did hear them, in association with praise to the Creator for them, do you think they would feel proud, vain and boastful of their beauty, or attempt to glow even more brightly for Him?
I think God made some mistakes in the Bible.
Genesis 24:15, 16
"Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel, son of Milkah, who was the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor. The woman was very beautiful, a virgin; no man had ever slept with her. She went down to the spring, filled her jar and came up again."
OOOPS. She was beautiful in appearance AND IT WAS COMMENTED ON.
1 Samuel 9:2, 16:12, 25:3
"Kish had a son named Saul, as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else."
"So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is he.”"
"(now the man’s name was Nabal, and his wife’s name was Abigail. And the woman was intelligent and beautiful in appearance, but the man was harsh and evil in his dealings, and he was a Calebite),"
"He had seven sons and three daughters. He named the first Jemimah, and the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch. In all the land no women were found so fair as Job’s daughters; and their father gave them inheritance among their brothers."
Yes, I've (pretty much) kept the baddies out or where the beauty was used for bad reasons (Jezebel, Bathsheba), in case the response is that it's mentioned as a bad thing. ;)
If some guys don't feel safe in guarding their own purity by complimenting a girl, that's fine. I'm not trying to force you to. But when guys do feel safe in guarding their own purity and being free to compliment a girl positively on her appearance, it is WRONG to try and persuade them otherwise.
As a woman who has been damaged by guys who find me physically beautiful, I can speak from my experience on this.
I find that being used by guys because they find me attractive has altered my psyche to understand that when they leave me, they don't find me attractive any more.
Therefore, confidence in living/handling issues and in personal security is compromised by the uncertainty of the way one appears physically and emotionally to others. And believe me, the guys can tell when a girl is emotionally insecure; it makes the girl far more a vulnerable target.
Think for a moment about the tramps and the outcasts. When one ceases the desire to live, or no longer cares what becomes of one, what is one of the last things to go? The care for personal appearance and cleanliness.
You see here that physical appearance and emotional wellbeing are often linked.
Two women in my immediate family have also been used and abused by the men in their lives. They are both physically very beautiful women.
What is the reaction now?
They come to me:
"Sian, do I look all right in this?"
"Yes; you look beautiful."
"No I don't. I look fat and old. Don't be silly."
They have learned through abuse to find emotional validation in the way they look, although rejecting it from fear.
To love through fear means that one has to reassure to regain confidence, in the same way that one reassures a selfharming person that they are loved, that cutting/burning, while not healthy, is a release of their pain and accepting that pain while trying to find ways of easing it.
The psychological impact of abuse means that to tell women who have been taught THROUGH LIVING that their looks matter, that they don't, is to them, basically telling them that they don't matter. Their validation as a woman comes through knowing that they are beautiful and valued - inside and out.
There is nothing wrong with validating a woman while still teaching that it is the inside that matters the most.
I have been both sides of the coin. I was raised with the "charm is deceitful and beauty is vain" while being taught to look and dress nicely - which technically, the majority of women are - before the men in my life meant I came to value myself on appearance for a time (and still struggle with).
I have two brothers; my older brother I don't see very often, my younger isn't in a suitable state to give many appropriate compliments. When I get a compliment from my older brother, it makes me really happy. Likewise, when I receive a compliment from one of my brothers in Christ, I treat it exactly the same way.
There are other girls who are only daughters with single mothers. Should they have a father figure in their lives? Would it be wrong for him to compliment them (with the agreement of his wife, before I get jumped on ;)?
After all, are we looking at brothers/sisters in Christ as future spouses, or as brothers and sisters?
Yes, there are types of compliments that are inappropriate. Most guys and girls should be able to tell those. :P "You look so attractive/hot" vs "that colour really suits you" or "that's a pretty dress/nice jacket".
There are women who are more physically beautiful than others, or men that are more handsome. But beauty is a different level to everyone. I find that if I study a person enough, there is something about them that I can genuinely compliment them on. There is a woman I know, and her greatest beauty is her eyes. The peace that shines through them floods her face and makes it beautiful, not only to me, but to so many others.
Beauty on the inside is most important. The beauty of a personality; of a soul; of a heart for Christ. I have never doubted that. As such, I ran The Beauty Project for one/two weeks over Facebook and Blogger, with both one of my adoptive mothers and two of my daughters who were insecure on their appearance participating, as well as some of my friends.
Almost every response that came back said it had helped.
My aim as a woman seeking to help hurting people is to affirm and validate them where they need it most, and build on those things that are more important.
While it is right to point women to God as their ultimate security, there is nothing wrong with being the mouthpiece of God to them.
Psalm 139:13-14 - "For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well."
God created us to appreciate beauty. To deny that is to cut off appreciating a part of His creation. Every gift can turn to sin if misused - love to lust, sight to covet, hands to hurt, self defence to murder.
But it's time to claim back what the world has distorted, not shun it.
Rejecting it only narrows the Christian influence more and widens the world's sphere of control.
We have let the world claim so much. Are we going to let it claim beauty too?
I'm going to fight it by validating where the world has destroyed with its supermodels, not by ignoring it, while encouraging towards the greater meaning - beauty and value in Christ. Will you join me?
(P.S. You can go and appreciate the flower now. ;))