We see them when we walk into a room or stroll through a crowd: the women who are prettier than we are. They are everywhere, aren’t they?
Women have special powers of observation that enable us to instantly spot a woman with a prettier face, a more attractive figure, cuter clothes, or more of a flair for style than we do. We tend to rank everyone we meet on our own private beauty scale—placing them somewhere above or below ourselves.
Comparison is a common trap for women, and it can quickly turn into complaining. I wish I had a gorgeous head of hair like she does. I wish I were as skinny as her. She always wears such attractive clothes. I wish I could afford to dress like that. If only I were tall like her. If only I had her pretty face. Obsessive comparing and complaining leads to envy, and envy, as we know, makes us bitterly unhappy.
Why are we so unhappy that we don’t have so-and-so’s figure or that other girl’s face? It is most likely because we want the attention she receives for ourselves.
Instead, we must repent and choose to trust God. We must recall that it is God has decided what we look like and what every other woman looks like too. When we remember that He has ordained our beauty “lot” we can receive it as truly pleasant (Ps. 16:5–6). We can cease stressing, striving, and comparing.
In 1 Peter 3, God teaches us to trust him by giving us a different group of women to look at. Instead of picking out the prettiest girls in the room and marking them for resentment, we are to look to the godliest women:
These are the heroines, the company of holy women of the past who trusted in God. Instead of comparing our physical appearance to other women, we should be measuring our hidden beauty next to these women, and striving to be like them.
For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening (1 Peter 3:5–6).
Here’s the good news: while most of us will never be the prettiest girl in the room, we can, by the grace of God, become like these holy women. When we cast off comparison and clothe ourselves with a gentle and quiet spirit, we can become beautiful children of Sarah.
For a bunch of college girls, it was a shocking sight. Our friend, and the mother of twins, showed us her stretch marks and we, rather impolitely, stared back in dismay. Did pregnancy really carve such strange designs into a woman’s body?
“You will all look like this some day,” she warned, laughing at our expressions. “Of course, mine are worse, because I had twins, but if you get pregnant, you will get stretch marks.”
I’m glad I didn’t know then that in addition to stretch marks I would also have a c-section scar, plus two more long scars from emergency surgery following the delivery of my first child. My stomach now looks like a crudely drawn road map.
Pregnancy wreaks havoc on a woman’s body. Stretch marks and fat deposits, c-section scars and varicose veins…the list goes on. Then there is motherhood. Sleep deprivation digs dark pits underneath our eyes, bottle washing dries out our hands, our clothes don’t fit anymore and are dotted with spit-up. Our joints are stiff from hours of carpool and our muscles sore from carrying children and baby bags and pack and plays (and don’t forget the stroller!).
Whatever beauty we thought we had before we had children feels like a thing of the past. We worry about whether our husband will still find us attractive. We feel self-conscious and insecure about how we look to others.
But motherhood is not the end of beauty, it is an opportunity to become more beautiful. Moms may not get much time at the spa, but we have the chance to apply the godly woman’s beauty regimen every day, all day long.
What is this beauty regimen? Scripture says that the woman who applies trust in God (“a gentle and quiet spirit” 1 Pet. 3:3-5) with good works (1 Tim. 2:9-10) will not fail to become genuinely beautiful. And who, I ask you, has more opportunities to apply this beauty treatment, than a mother with young children?
Every day she must trust God with the physical safety, the emotional wellbeing, and the state of her children’s souls. Every day she must do endless, repetitive acts of service on behalf of her husband and for the sake of children. And every day, as moms, we have countless opportunities to take our eyes off of ourselves, to serve others, and to look to God for strength and help. This makes us truly beautiful.
So think of it this way: you can make yourself beautiful all day long! Not only when you shower and style your hair, but also when you clean up vomit and wipe dirty bottoms, when you encourage your husband and serve your family with gladness. You are trusting God and doing good works. This will make you beautiful in the eyes of your husband and your children, and precious in the sight of God.
Motherhood is not the end of beauty; instead it can be the beginning of a deeper, more profound beauty, that transforms us from the inside out. So instead of mourning the loss of a smooth, flat, stomach this Mother’s Day, let’s give thanks for the opportunity to pursue a beauty that will never fade (1 Pet. 3:3-5).
We wish we could meet every one of your beautiful mothers, but we had to pick two winners for our Mother’s Day Contest and they are…
She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. Prov 31:20
My mom is a school nurse, often to children with severe chronic illnesses. She is full of love for them. It has always amazed me how she can communicate so much love to children who are unable to speak, walk or function without some kind of medical support. But they are delighted by her, which is seen in how their eyes shine when she enters the room. My mom instilled in my sisters and I a love for the outcast, disabled, poor and the needy. We always had a plethora of people in our small home, and attracted the people who are hard to love. She was never scared away by difficult personality, awkwardness, strange behaviour, etc. She loved unconditionally, and made everyone feel special. I am so thankful that she is able to see people through Christ’s eyes, and have such an open heart to minister to the needs of so many. She has shaped my outlook on life, and I’m incredibly thankful for her.
I’m 48 and my mom is 73. I was recently diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. Though I always expected to take care of my mom as she ages, now she is taking care of me (and my husband, and my children . . .) She does my laundry, has us over for meals, and is the proverbial listening ear and shoulder to cry on. The night we found out how far the cancer had spread, she brought supper over with my dad, and I’ll never forget how she pleaded with God to not let any of us become bitter towards him over this hard providence. I pray my children will never forget that evening or her prayer request. She has showed me what a lifetime of faithfulness and fruitfulness looks like. That is true beauty!
Lynette and Michelle, you will each receive two copies of True Beauty—one for you and one for your mom. Let each of us tell our moms why they are truly beautiful this Mother’s Day!
We know that girltalk is not your usual go-to source for the latest in Christian Hip-Hop (although we are big fans!), so today we feel super blessed to welcome Jasmine Le’Shea to our blog. Jasmine has recently released her debut single, “True Beauty” and we were so blessed by her message, and by this young woman’s sweet and joyful trust in God, that we wanted you to meet her and enjoy her song.
Welcome to girltalk, Jasmine! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your relationship with Christ?
I am a bundle of so many things lol, but I will try to narrow a summary of who I am into a few brief sentences. I am a young woman with a heart for the Lord Jesus, I am also an African-American southern belle who loves the city, loves singing and writing, enjoys Christian art of varying styles, I am a lover of learning, and a lover of fellowship with believers.
By God’s sovereign design, although there is much to write about myself that is full of joy, I also have sin struggles. Among the most notable are my longings pertaining to beauty, desirability, and marriage. They are, as I have noted, struggles; I have not and will not throw in the towel. God is with me. As horrible a sinner as I am, Romans tells me that nothing can separate me from the love of God. I am in total awe of this, and gratitude floods my soul at the thought of being loved this much.
You are a two-time heart transplant recipient. How has suffering at such a young age taught you more about the character of God?
Our God is in the heavens, He does whatever He pleases, and what He pleases is always good. Does it always feel good? Absolutely not. Sickness hurts. Interestingly enough, there are times when I reflect on my illness at age 15 and think how much stronger I felt emotionally then. I had just come into relationship with the Lord and there was nothing anyone could say and no pain that was bad enough to take away the excitement I had in my new found hope. I knew that whether I lived or died, Christ loved me and would take better care of me than anyone else could. As I am nearing the end of my 20’s, though the hope remains, my experience with illness has been a bit different. When I was 15 I hadn’t really known the financial difficulties, I hadn’t experienced the loneliness, and I hadn’t encountered significant disappointment. Since then, however, I have. What I have come to realize, however, is not that I was stronger when I was 15 but that I have grown more dependent on God as I draw near to age 30. Mom and Dad can’t be with me every moment now, they cannot afford to handle my medical experiences anymore, and as I grow older the comfort that they and others provide does not give what I would like to experience from a mate. This leaves me with complete dependence on the Lord. I have found, as did Paul and many other Christ followers, that God’s grace is indeed sufficient. This does not always equate to comfort, but it does always mean that the needs of those who trust in Him will be met and God will be glorified.
You recently released your debut single True Beauty. Can you tell us how you came to write this song and why you are passionate about this biblical message?
I wrote and titled the song “True Beauty” years ago, somewhere between 2006 & 2007 I believe. I remember just crying out to God to make me different, to make me a woman who was pleasing in His sight. The chorus of the song is pretty mellow and it’s followed by a first verse that is significantly more aggressive, representing my soft and sincere desire for True Beauty along with my aggressiveness in fighting for it. It has been approximately 8 years since I wrote the song, and I have not ‘arrived’. I am not immune to longing for physical beauty, to making comparisons and the like, but God has been and still is graciously growing me. I hurt still, but I depend on Him more. I long still, but push my longings into greater pursuits of Christ, of Christian fellowship, and of sharing the beauty of Christ with others. I am so passionate about the message of pursuing True Beauty because it has been a bit of a thorn for me, an area of weakness in which the Lord my God uses to remind me that His grace is sufficient and His strength is made perfect in weakness. He is using this ‘thorn’ to push me to pursue and love on other sisters in ways that I may have never done had I not known the struggle, which includes my writing, singing, and speaking on topics like True Beauty.
How has your physical suffering influenced your perspective on beauty?
My physical suffering brings me face to face with the beast of vanity and asks, “What will you believe?” If I’m honest the answer to this question does not always come as instantly as it should. During these face offs there are times when I do not believe the truths of Scripture which tell me that it is a woman who fears the Lord who is to be praised and that beauty does not come from external adorning. My eyes see women without the scars, without the additional weight, and without serious illnesses being praised by men. Fortunately, the Lord loves me too much to let what my eyes see rule my heart entirely. Rather He graces me with the presence of the Holy Spirit who lovingly points me to the cross and the immeasurable sacrifice that Jesus made to shower me with True Beauty. The Spirit always reminds me how precious I am to Christ and that His thoughts of me should matter above all, and they do. God is most beautiful, He created beauty, and He sees me as such. Physical suffering pushes me to fight harder to remember and cling to these truths.
How can mothers and mentors help young women to pursue true beauty?
Older women teaching younger women are essential, as Titus 2 points out. This may not be a quick fix and it therefore may not bring instant comfort, but I truly believe that teaching young women to gaze upon the Lord and allowing them to witness their moms and mentors do it (through discipleship) is the most valuable way to teach them to pursue True Beauty.
It is great to encourage young women with words of affirmation, but it is most beneficial to couple that with an emphasis on the beauty of God. This leads the believer to fight to take her eyes off of herself, to recall what the Lord deems as beautiful, to pray to see beauty as He sees it, and to ultimately pursue True Beauty.
As established in your book True Beauty, this certainly does not mean that a woman should disregard her external appearance, but it does mean that her inner beauty should be more highly regarded. Doing this will help sisters to put our considerations of makeup, hair, fitness, clothing, et. into proper perspective, to reduce comparisons, and to “follow Jesus”, as relayed in “The Snare of Compare” teaching by Carolyn Mahaney.
You mentioned that you are currently in the hospital related to your heart. How can we pray for you?
This is such a sweet question! I am so grateful that you and other sisters in Christ who do not know me personally are willing to go to the Lord on my behalf, thank you!
Please pray that if the Lord be pleased He would grant me good health and that I will steward my health well, in whatever state I am in. Please also pray that as my body expands and my appearance changes due to changes in my energy levels and new medications that I not be consumed with these external changes. Pray that I focus on further developing an inner beauty and that I be strengthened and enlightened to continue to encourage others in the body of Christ to focus on the same. Last, God has graced me with an abundance of love from the body of Christ and though I am never alone going through my physical trials, I still long for a beautiful, God-glorifying marriage. Please pray for my comfort and for the Lord’s provision as He wills in this regard. Thank you again.
We will be praying for you, Jasmine! Thank you so much for sharing your life and your music with us.
One time, after I finished speaking to a group of women on true beauty, a woman approached me and said: “That’s all fine and good, God’s perspective on beauty. And I believe it is true. But the reality is, that’s not the message my husband receives from our culture about beauty.” She was worried: as she was getting older, her physical beauty was fading. It troubled her that her husband, like every other man in our society, was constantly bombarded with images idealizing youth and physical beauty.
Not to mention that her husband wasn’t at the women’s meeting to hear a message on biblical beauty. It’s not that he had given her a specific reason to worry; she just appraised the situation and thought it sufficient cause for concern.
Ours is a culture that unfairly holds women to an ideal standard of physical beauty. Since it is a kind of beauty most of us will never attain, and will certainly never be able to maintain, we may worry about how we are going to hold onto our husbands’ affection and attraction.
This is a recurring concern I hear as I interact with women about beauty. They wonder if they are still as beautiful to their husbands as their bodies change after childbirth and as they grow older.
“It Drives My Husband Crazy”
Even if their husbands attempt to reassure them, some women continue to worry:
“I have a problem with accepting that my husband finds me as beautiful as he says he does,” admits Stephanie.
This fear, along with our refusal to believe our husbands when they tell us we are beautiful, can cause tension in a marriage.
“I struggle with the fear I’m getting fat all the time. It drives my husband crazy writes Briana.
Jen says the same: “I don’t understand why I cannot trust my husband when he tells me how beautiful I am! It’s so annoying to him when I say, ‘You have to say that.’”
Friends, if there is one thing that frustrates a man, it is a wife who won’t believe him on this point. Men don’t like to feel as if they can never say or do enough to convince us that they appreciate our beauty. We do our marriages a disservice when we judge our husbands by failing to take them at their word.
But how do we deal with this fear that plagues so many of us?
The Cure for All Our Fears
We must trust God for our husbands.
God brings a man and woman together in marriage. He put affection in our husbands’ hearts for us, and he has a good plan for our marriages. This is not to say that we won’t face challenges, even severely painful ones. But no matter what trials we meet in our marriages, God will work them for our good and his glory (Rom. 8:28).
God is not distant from our marriages. He did not set them in motion only to leave them to run on their own. He is “a very present help” in marriage trouble (Ps. 46:1): present to care, strengthen, and comfort us, no matter our difficulties, big or small.
Confidence in God’s personal involvement and tender care frees us from fear. Our hope is not in our husbands or in our beauty, but in the character of God, the constancy of his affections, and the surety of his purposes.
How To Become More Beautiful
Here’s where it gets amazing: The more we trust God, the more attractive we become. A gentle and quiet spirit adorns the whole woman, making her beautiful from the inside out. Her lack of anxiety, restlessness, and neediness, her carefree confidence in God’s goodness makes her more lovely as the years go by.
This beauty is so profound, it can even attract unbelieving husbands to the gospel; they can be “won without a word” by the beauty of a wife’s godly character (1 Pet. 3:1-2).
~Adapted from True Beauty by Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Whitacre
We were so excited to see how many book clubs are eager to go through True Beauty! Our grand-prize winner is a group of women from First Baptist Church of Hacienda Heights, CA who wrote: “We are a mixed group of married with kids, married, single and college women. We love the Lord and our local church!” Sounds like a fun group!
Even if your book club didn’t win, we want to send all of the groups who entered a complimentary copy of True Beauty to share with one of your members. You’ll be hearing from us shortly.
May God bless your time of fellowship with His presence and grace.
Have a great Labor Day weekend everyone! We’ll see you back here next week.
When a friend is struggling with her appearance, many of us might say something like: “You are beautiful just the way you are. God made you and he thinks you are beautiful. And I do too. You just need to believe that this is true.”
There are important truths embedded in this counsel, to be sure. The dignity of every human being made in the image of God means we all have an inherent beauty. But this glorious truth doesn’t always help us when we feel unattractive or anxious about our appearance.
For me, I can convince myself that I am beautiful for only so long. All it takes is for my scale to register a few extra pounds or to walk past a woman who is younger and prettier than me, and that bubble bursts pretty quickly.
Why doesn’t this truth stick? Why doesn’t this astounding knowledge—that we are beautiful because we are made in the image of God—eradicate, once and for all, our feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt?
One reason is that we often mistakenly turn this truth about God into clichés about us. When we turn the spotlight away from God and onto ourselves, we twist the truth.
So “God is beautiful and made us in his image” becomes “You are beautiful because God created you.”
Herein lies the flaw in our well-meaning advice: it starts and ends with us.
When we focus on ourselves, we’re only compounding the problem. That’s because self-focus is our problem. Sagging self-confidence is often a preoccupation with self; struggles with comparison, measuring up, and fitting in reveal our self-absorption.
“Low self-esteem usually means that I think too highly of myself,” explains Ed Welch. “I’m too self-involved, I feel I deserve better than what I have. The reason I feel bad about myself is that I aspire to something more. I want just a few minutes of greatness.”
Feelings of inadequacy about our appearance often arise because we feel we deserve better than what we have. We aspire to something more.
We may not feel like we’re grasping at greatness—we just want to fit in with the other moms or the popular girls at school—but then again, we never seem to be liked enough or included enough to make us happy. We never get what we think we deserve.
This is why our beauty struggles seem set on repeat: self-is never satisfied.
But there is hope for you and for me. When we accurately diagnose our struggles with beauty, we can beak free from this destructive cycle, and find liberating truth in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Been thinking about a book club with your girlfriends? If so, consider True Beauty. It is short and easy to read, but stuffed full of biblical insight and wise counsel that targets our beauty struggles. It also includes discussion questions for every chapter, so all you have to do is make yummy snacks (I have a few suggestions!) and invite some friends. The rest is done for you!
We want to make it easier (and cheaper!) for one special group. Get a group together in the next two weeks, send us their names, and we’ll choose one group to receive up to ten free, signed copies of True Beauty (and snack ideas from me if you like!). Winners announced on Friday, August 29 and books will ship right away.
Need any more incentive? Here are some great testimonies from True Beauty book clubs:
“I’m thankful to have the opportunity to lead the women at Immanuel through a study of the book “True Beauty.” Like most believing women, they long to escape the lure of the unachievable and unsustainable beauty our culture offers. They wonder what is appropriate for women of God in all areas of beauty. They also want to know how to protect their daughters from lies about beauty, and how to point them to what is truly beautiful. In our study we are finding that “True Beauty” addresses all of these concerns and more! The book exposes the lies of our culture and our own sinful tendency to be “glory thieves,” and calls us to gaze upon our truly beautiful God. We have found the study guide questions helpful in promoting good discussion about this issue and even repentance of sin. I am confident that the ladies participating in this study will come away with a transformed view of personal beauty and a renewed vision of our beautiful God!”
“I simply love this book! I highly recommend Carolyn’s book to women of all ages. This summer I took a group of young ladies through this book, (which was very easy to do with the discussion questions provided in the back which go chapter by chapter). It was perspective building for many, and a great reminder for me. As women we are constantly getting messages from our culture of all the many ways we fail the beauty test, and I know personally how discouraging this is for us. This book is just the opposite and is filled grace, NOT legalism as some might suppose. This book is freeing! I personally plan to re-read this one regularly.”
“True Beauty addresses the heart of the beauty “problem” or “obsession” women have with their weight, skin, hair, and style. We are “glory thieves,” and desire to place ourselves (our beauty) above God’s eternal, incomparable beauty. As this book uncovers the root sin of the idolization of beauty, I have been challenged to see that true beauty “beholds and reflects the beauty of God.” As a teen, this inspires me to look at others and see His image in them, not their weight, skin, stylish clothing, or anything that would make me covet their beauty. Rather, I see their worth through God’s eyes, and the work of grace He offers them through His son’s sacrifice on the cross. Praise the Lord for his grace to lost sinners!”
Thanks to so many of you who sent in entries for our True Beauty Mother’s Day Giveaway. We wish we could give a book to everyone who entered, but we are so blessed by the love each one of you expressed for a special mom, sister, or friend. The winners are…Cara, who entered on behalf of her daughter-in-law (who was born on Mother’s Day!) and Dan, who entered on behalf of his wife and his mom—both of whom have birthdays in May! We pray these special women are blessed by this Mother’s Day gift.
And there’s still time to order your copy of True Beauty in time for Mother’s Day. We hope every mother knows her true beauty and worth on this special day.