Why Beauty Matters

for my girls

“We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words – to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves.” – C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)

All of us women shared a good laugh as, each in turn, arrived in the upstairs of the White Rock Lake Weekly editor-in-chief’s house, bedecked with our workout clothes, ready to proofread flats for this week’s issue. I ooh-ed and ahhh-ed over one of the girl’s workout wear from lululemon. We then bemoaned what the holidays had done to our skin (too pale) and our bodies (we compared “fatty” places – it’s a girl thing). One of the girls bewailed her hereditary cellulite, as did I. It doesn’t matter how skinny you are, you can still have it. Ok, overshare. We somehow got on the topic of relationships, marriages and divorce; it’s ONLY a bunch of girls….go figure.

These conversations all overlapped and translated into one thought: Woman long to be thought of as beautiful (to hold onto it) and to be cherished. It pointed me to and complemented a chapter I had just finished reading this afternoon from “Captivating” by John and Stasi Eldredge. In a portion of it, John discusses why beauty matters. I want to share just bits and pieces with you now. I feel like Inigo Montoya in “Princess Bride” here: “I will tell you. No, wait, it is too long. I will sum up.”

Beauty is powerful. It may be the most powerful thing on earth. It is dangerous. Because it matters. Let us try to explain why.

First, beauty speaks. And what does beauty say to us? — he draws a vivid picture of being stuck in traffic for hours – the stress, noise, smells. Then he paints the scene of arriving at a beautiful place (i.e. a meadow, quiet beach) – the serenity. — There is room for your soul. It expands. You can breathe again. You can rest. It is good. All is well. And this is what it’s like to be with a woman at rest, a woman comfortable in her feminine beauty. She is enjoyable to be with. She is lovely. In her presence your heart stops holding its breath. You can relax and believe once again that all will be well. We need what Beauty speaks. It is hard to put into words.

Beauty also invites. Recall what it is like to hear a truly beautiful piece of music. It captures you; you want to sit down and just drink it in. The same is true of a beautiful garden, or a scene in nature. You want to enter in, explore, partake of it, feast upon it….draws you in…you can’t wait to get back to it, spend time with it. All os the responses that God wants of us. All of the responses a woman wants too. Beauty invites.

Beauty nourishes. It is a kind of food our souls crave. A woman’s breast is among the loveliest of all God’s works….In fact, a woman’s body is one of the most beautiful of God’s creations. “Too much of eternity,” as William Blake said, “for the eye of man.”

Beauty comforts. There is something profoundly healing about it.

Beauty inspires. After beholding all the marvelous wonders of the creation of Narnia (as told in The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis), the cabbie says, “Glory be! I’d have been a better man all my life if I’d known there were things like this!”

Beauty is transcendent. It is our most immediate experience of the eternal….We yearn to linger, to experience it all our days. sometimes the beauty is so deep it pierces us with longing. For what? For life as it was meant to be. Beauty speaks of a heaven to come….It haunts us with eternity. Beauty draws us to God. All these things are true for any experience of Beauty. But they are especially true when we experience the beauty of a woman – her eyes, her form, her voice, her heart, her spirit, her life. She speaks all of this far more profoundly than anything else in all creation, because she is incarnate; she is personal…She is beauty through and through. “For where is any author in the world Teaches such beauty as a woman’s eye?” (Shakespeare).

Beauty is, without question, the most essential and the most misunderstood of all of God’s qualities – of all feminine qualities too. We know it has caused untold pain in the lives of women. But even there something is speaking. Why so much heartache over beauty? We don’t ache over being geniuses or fabulous hockey players. Women ache over the issue of beauty – they ache to be beautiful, to believe they are beautiful, and they worry over keeping it if ever they can find it. A woman knows, down in her soul, that she longs to bring beauty to the world. She might be mistaken on how, but she longs for beauty to unveil. This is not just culture, or the need to “get a man.” This is in her heart, part of her design.

One of the deepest ways a woman bears the image of God is in her mystery. By “mystery” we don’t mean “forever beyond your knowing,” but “something to be explored.” “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,” says the book of Proverbs, “to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” God yearns to be known. But he wants to be sought after by those who would know him. He says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13). There is dignity here; God does not throw himself at any passerby….This is crucial to any woman’s soul, not to mention her sexuality. “You cannot simply have me. You must seek me, pursue me. I won’t let you in unless I know you love me.”….Foreplay is crucial to her heart, the whispering and loving and exploring of one another that culminates in intercourse. That is a picture of what it means to love her soul. She yearns to be known and that takes time and intimacy. It requires an unveiling. As she is sought after, she reveals more of her beauty.

(Author goes on to note: We did not say that a woman is prized only for her good looks…did not say a woman is here merely to complete a man, and therefore a single woman is somehow missing her destiny.)

There is a radiance hidden in your heart that the world desperately needs.

Shalom,

Rachel B. Duke

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2 thoughts on “Why Beauty Matters

  1. Good quote. But Beauty is not just in the “beauty myth”, and especially not in the desperation to fit that stereotype: it is when we Know we are beautiful. And, later, you will know there is beauty in your grey hair and wrinkles.

    • I agree. As Proverbs 20:29 says, “The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.” (same for women here, but Solomon just happens to be talking directly to his son)

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