“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” (I Samuel 16:7)
Let that one sink in. I mean, let it really sink in… We’ve all heard it a hundred times, but have we really taken it to heart?
True beauty is something I have been pondering for a while now, but how is it defined? It depends on which lens and whose definition you are seeing beauty through.
Webster defines beauty as, “the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit.” If we would think of what “the world” would say, it would be along the lines of youth and physically appealing traits. Our media is saturated with what “beautiful/handsome” is or should be, and young people are especially targeted, which puts pressure on and molds young hearts to conforming to the world’s definition. Personally, in my teen years, I hid an eating disorder because I falsely believed that I needed to be thin in order to be beautiful, and if I wasn’t, I believed no one would love me. Even though my friends and family constantly loved and affirmed me with God’s truth, it took years before I had my own revelation.
So, once again, here I am, living in Cambodia and surrounded by a nation of beautiful young people (most of the nation is under 35 years of age). If I’m not careful, I can easily let comparison of “beauty” steal my joy and identity, as I am not the youngest, nor am I the most beautiful. Whose definition am I going to believe… what the world defines as beautiful, or what the Creator says? According to the Word, God looks at the heart.
This topic has been heavy on my heart, especially lately. You see, even though everyone I meet is truly beautiful, many don’t believe they are. There is a huge focus on skin color, for example. A common belief here is that the lighter the skin, the more beautiful the person. Most lotions advertised and sold here include “whitening” components. In fact, I gasped in disbelief and sadness when one of my Khmer friends told me of a common practice here among the women: putting a certain lotion on the skin, wrapping in plastic, and waiting for the lotion to take off the top layer(s) of skin. I shudder as I think about it and have shed tears over this. The “new skin” is supposed to be lighter and more beautiful. However, it comes at a high cost. Some die in the process, according to my friend, as the body cannot handle it. This grieves me deeply! If a male makes a comment about a female having dark skin, it can be devastating. It seems in general around the world that many with light skin want darker skin and those with dark skin desire lighter skin.
In order to combat this mindset, I have been finding great joy in sowing “seeds of beauty” here in Cambodia. I take whatever opportunities I can to tell the ladies I meet that they are beautiful, even if it’s a moment with the cashier while she’s ringing up my groceries. Many times they turn it back to me and tell me that no… they are not beautiful… but that I am beautiful, pointing to my skin (I have very light skin). Then they point to their skin and say, “no good.” Smiling, I continue sowing “seeds” telling them that their skin is beautiful too… we are both beautiful! My heart is for one life at a time to be touched and for hearts to be transformed. I can’t do everything and with everyone, but I can with the one in front of me.
Let’s ponder this week how we are viewing beauty. Are we getting sucked into the world’s definition, or are we focusing on our own hearts and the hearts of others… on what is on the inside? Proverbs 31 highlights beauty as “fleeting,” but that “a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” I don’t know about you, but this has convicted me at a deep level. May we be men and women of God who are known for our beauty within and that we fear the LORD. Don’t get me wrong… it’s important to look nice on the outside also, as we are representatives of Jesus, but I am just referring to our focus. Let’s sow “seeds of beauty” to those around us and believe together that mindsets and hearts will be aligned with the truth of “true beauty.”
Written by: Cathy Cupp
Published on: 11/8/18