There is no doubt in my mind that a good part portion of my life has been strongly following what our society has focused on, whether it be outward appearances, position, or possessions. My fragile self worth hinging vicariously on the approval of others. Compelling images on screen or print drove me to strive for acceptance as it encourages the population to worship physical beauty, strength and the dew of youth. Even though I know Proverbs 31 tells us, “beauty is vain (because it is not lasting….” still my past choices gave too much energy and exertion on achieving shiny bouncing hair, pearly white teeth, or the “perfect pant size”.
Nearly 30 years ago it caused me to fall headlong into crippling eating disorder after my failed first marriage. The grip of anorexia squeezed out any of the vibrant life God had for me. Only being able to overcome its’ strong clutches through the power of my praying mother. Within a year my eyes were opened to the devastation of what the eating disorder was doing to my body. Sadly, a few years later my poor body image reared its’ ugly head again due to my weight gain shortly after I got remarried. This time narrowly escaping a potential battle with bulimia. My husband somehow opened the bathroom door that I “knew” I had locked, he saw me leaning over the toilet to rid myself of my last meal. This was a profound wake up call from a gracious God sparing me from another pit of personal destruction. After that miraculous encounter I never again struggled with any kind of eating disorder.
For the most part, we can agree there is nothing wrong with admiring external beauty or brawn, enjoying healthy hair, whiter teeth or battling the bugle. Our bodies are the temple of the Lord, and we are encouraged to take care of them. Still, it becomes clear that I want to shift my attention to a boarder picture of true beauty and brawn. That which is not highlighted in fashion nor physical fitness magazines, becoming more confident that true beauty comes from within and strength is measured beyond bulging muscles and washboard abs. Longing to view mankind as God does, for His word says, “Man looks to the outward appearances while God looks at the heart”. Not judging a book by its’ cover as the prophet Samuel did when on a mission to choose the next King of Israel, had it not been for the Spirit of God telling him otherwise, Samuel would have anointed the wrong man. Almost overlooking the ruddy David who tended sheep but had a heart for God. Once again God reveals that true “strength” and “beauty” has nothing to do with outward appearances but rather what is in the heart and spirit of a man or woman.
God applauds the stouthearted spirit of the elderly, the perseverance of the disabled and all those battling crippling diseases or limitations whether in mind or body. This reevaluation is pounding hard, hitting home as I watch a loved one’s heroic stamina tackle life. Where walking, brushing teeth, or eating has become laborious. This changes the face of what “powerful” really is, a rugged human spirit determined to live with dignity in spite of adversities. What I once put so much stock in has lost its’ value challenging and rocking the very core of my flimsy standards. Smashing the idols of self worth and worldly value and realigning my perspective as to what real beauty and strength is.
The reality is we all carry within us weaknesses, scars, and flaws that reside in our heart’s and mind’s…. crippling us from soaring as God intended. A fortified internal city masking our shortcomings and inner wounds. And yet God beckons us to “glory in our weakness and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell upon me”. * His power is shown up in our weaknesses.
Thank you Lord that Your love and approval does not depend on ones physical strength or outward beauty. In fact, true strength and beauty is determined by what is on the inside of a person. Not only that, but your love is absolutely unconditional even in our brokenness. Redefining to a needy culture what true “Beauty and Brawn” is.
Training the body helps a little, but godly living helps in every way. Godly living has the promise of life now and in the world to come. 1 Timothy 4:8
*2 Corinthians 12:9