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.”
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.
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.