The Beautiful

A friend reminded me of C.S. Lewis this week. She mentioned Mere Christianity, which I have, to my shame, never read in it’s entirety. To salvage my reputation amongst you smartypants intellectual types, I do have a favorite Lewis quote.  

He writes, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.” 

The source of my Lewis quote, in case you were wondering. (And annother of his books that I haven’t actually read. Tsk. Tsk.)

The source of my Lewis quote, in case you were wondering. (And annother of his books that I haven’t actually read. Tsk. Tsk.)

I think of this quote often, and, oddly enough, most frequently when I see one of two types of people: the desperately poor or the incredibly beautiful.

~

Before babies, I used to volunteer at a ministry that provided financial and food assistance to people in need. I was an interviewer, and my job was meet clients and determine if and how we could help their situation.

I remember one specific interview when I sat across from a mother and her grown daughter and found myself utterly repulsed.

They were “regulars,” coming in as frequently as was allowed. They lacked social etiquette. They smelled bad. They looked bad. They made poor money decisions and then wanted a handout. I was ashamed at my lack of compassion as I looked upon them, but I couldn’t overcome it.

I went home, and read that quote.

There are no mere mortals.

Those women were Souls designed and loved by God, and I had forgotten.

~

Josh and I watched a snippet of the Oscars Sunday night. We caught it right in the middle, where they put the awards no one really cares about but you have to suffer through to get to the good stuff at the end.  

The place was packed with beautiful people. Men and women who are successful and respected enough in their chosen career field to be invited to the most recognized awards show in the world. And, yet, most of the women in the room were dressed in as little as possible.

Why? I wondered. Was their presence at the Academy Awards not validation enough of their significance? Why were they also so blatantly seeking attention through their bodies? How could they—these already beautiful women—apparently not know their inherent worth?

Call me a prudish old lady, but I was embarrassed. For us and for them. I changed the channel a lot.

But there are no mere mortals.

These women are Souls designed and loved by God, but they have forgotten.

~

I want my girls to remember.

JPH_4463

I feel convicted by it every time I check and re-check my appearance in the mirror before I leave the house. Are they watching? Do they seem me fussing over my hair and whining about my outfit? Changing my shoes a dozen times? Do they see me seeking the world’s approval with my looks? Do they wonder why?

Have I told them that this is not true beauty? Will they remember? Or do my own actions contradict my words?

We are not mere mortals, and I want my girls to know it. Even when I so often forget.

~

I think we should all know this one:

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:3-4).

If we are truly not just mortals, if our souls will live on far past our bodies, then this obsession over our appearance is surely just a distraction, meant to keep us from doing the ultimately important work of cultivating that inner self that is so much more valuable to our Creator.

These earth suits we are wear are fading fast. No surgeries or hair dye will change that. Whether we are 20 or 30 or 50, we have a choice. Will I worry about what cannot be stopped? Or will I embrace the temporary nature of this life and treat my soul and the souls around me as immortal and absolutely worth my time?

~

My girls are watching. Will they see me focus on my Self? Or on my Soul?

Will they witness an anxious woman growing older or a quiet spirit growing more gentle?

Our boys are watching too. Will they see us care more about beauty…or a beautiful spirit? They will likely marry a woman like their mother. That’s scary. Unless we do this right.

~

God has given us a choice. Choose that which fails or that which will not fade.

Which will I choose?

Which will you?

***

It is appropriate that our giveaway this week is book about True Beauty.

Our winner is…Laura! Thanks to all who participated. 

 

P.S. Being a mom of girls, especially, I’m learning how to teach this beautiful spirit business as I go. Help me out here:

How do/did you teach your girls inner beauty? Or how did your mom teach (or show) you?

Let’s share this stuff.  We all can benefit.

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8 Comments:


  1. Judy said:

    Merely Modesty with a lot of prayer!

    Reply

    1. Hannah Post author said:

      Yes, prayer. Definitely.

      Reply

  2. Karen said:

    What beautiful young ladies you have! And what a lovely entry this week! Good things to remember, for sure.

    How did we teach our daughter about inner beauty? I don’t really know, except that I think it had a lot to do with manure. I know that sounds outrageous, but truly…I think it did. As nasty as manure is, it keeps a girl humble and it DOES wash off. Things like a snotty, entitled attitude are not so easy to remove. Manure just provides some great sin analogies. Farm life teaches kids lots of good life lessons. 😉
    As for my mom, I don’t think I can overestimate the importance of how she arose early and spent time with her Jesus before she spent time with us. She truly has that gentle and quiet spirit that Peter wrote about–the Proverbs 31 woman in the flesh. 🙂 She did not have fancy clothes when I was little, but she never left the house without being “put together”…she said it was important to daddy that she look nice. I think she was right. She modeled kind speech and kind deeds. She never spoke ugly of anyone or to anyone that I can remember. I think I may have heard her utter a profane word under her breath once and that was when I was in my 20’s. Even then, she quickly and humbly apologized for losing her temper. 🙂 I would definitely say she modeled a beautiful spirit and I bet if you were to ask her, she would say that was only possible because of the Man with Whom she started her day. 🙂

    Reply

    1. Hannah Post author said:

      What a wonderful legacy your mom has left you, Karen. I could only hope that my daughters will see that kind of love of Jesus in me. I want them to see that He’s my motivation for all that I do and say. I pray that there is never any confusion because my words don’t match my lifestyle. Sounds like your mom had that down.

      And, since I know you and your beautiful daughter after you, I can say that you are leaving that legacy yourself. You two have some of the gentlest and quietest spirits I’ve ever witnessed. I am so happy to know and learn from you both!

      Reply

  3. Tara said:

    I’ve been trying to come up with anything positive that I gleaned from my parents about inner beauty…but it’s basically a bunch of “what not to do’s.” My parents had fairly horrifying childhoods and didn’t come away with many parenting or relationship tools. They loved us(4 girls!), but my mother has always hated her body and was always on a fad diet, talking negatively about herself, and was overly consumed with the rocky relationship aspects of her life to talk to us about anything. I think dads play an extremely crucial role in the area of beauty for his girls-although my Dad talked to us about our outer beauty and really pitched up hard work as a fabulous attritibute, he would constantly bring up the outer beauty of other women and was hard on my mom about her looks after years of trying to encourage her to eat better and be active with him. In hindsight, it really heavily impacted us in different ways. My parents worked really hard to give us the great childhood they didn’t have and they just missed a few points…finding out about their childhoods helped me(as an adult) put this all in perspective.
    Moms, sometimes it is less about what you say TO your girls about their beauty(inner or outer) and more about what you DO and SAY about yourself and other women. Whew. I so wanted to write some precious, concise, neat little snippet about a beautiful moment my mom taught me about inner beauty, but it’s not like that for some of us. It’s just more important for me to impart the truth about the impact the opposite can have-my sisters struggled with eating disorders, body image issues, and misplaced importance of looks in relationships and still do. I realized recently that I had not told my oldest she was beautiful in any way in awhile. I guess, I almost avoid discussing outer beauty at all, but it’s important for a girl to hear that from her family, too. I don’t know that my mom ever heard it. Thank you for this post! The hubs and I have general discussions with our littles about attritibutes discussed in the Bible when we find a moment that warrants it. I think I can, personally, step up my game;).

    Reply

    1. Hannah Post author said:

      You’re right, Tara, there is such a fine line to walk here. We want our girls to know that they are beautiful how God created them, but that their outer beauty should only be a reflection of what is on the inside. And maybe you also said it best when you said that Dad’s role is to tell his daughters that they are gorgeous. Mom’s role might be more to SHOW her daughters how “gorgeous” women act.

      We can do such a dangerous disservice to our girls when we constantly obsess over our weight or our hair or clothing. We all can do better to be more intentional in the off-hand comments we make about our bodies or when we compare ourselves to others. Our girls are watching. We are leaving a legacy with every word we say (or don’t say.) I’m praying for that gentle and quiet spirit to be part of mine, and it sounds the same for you. Prayer is key here. I will fail without the Holy Spirit’s leadership. Good intentions will only carry me so far. I need Jesus. That’s all there is to it.

      Thanks, again, for reading and commenting. You have such good things to share. 🙂

      Reply

  4. Heather Bock said:

    I’ve been thinking about this topic this week as my daughter came into my bathroom while I was getting ready and wanted to put makeup on with me. I wrestled within myself–do I let her play with it? If I praise her afterwards on how pretty she looks, which is what she expects (in fact, she’d be hurt if I didn’t), will that make her think she looks better with it on? I can tell her that inner beauty is more important and that she’s beautiful without makeup, but will she believe that? I wish I had answers!

    Reply

    1. Hannah Post author said:

      Me too, Heather! It’s such a hard balance to find. And, since we are imperfect, we’ll probably be guilty of doing it wrong sometimes. (I know I am!) I guess that’s why we pray for God’s grace in our parenting and that he would cover up those many mistakes!!

      Reply

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