One of the most beautiful women I know doesn’t think she’s the most conventionally attractive person. She is beautiful when she does her friend’s dishes. She is beautiful when she gives rides to or from the airport at 3 in the morning. When she makes up a big casserole and thinks of bringing it to the firemen at the local station. She doesn’t put on gobs of makeup or do anything particularly jolly with her hair. She’s not a size 0 or 2. But she is one of the most beautiful women I know.
That’s because beauty is not just that which pleases the senses; there is the beauty of our body and there is the beauty of our soul. And then there is the beauty of our ensouled bodies. As God’s creation, we all have souls; we all have beauty. But sometimes it’s hard to see the beauty within and without. Hard when the mirror tells me I am unpretty with my never-not-greasy hair, my face full of zits, or the cellulite curdled on my thighs.
We women in particular have difficulty accepting that we’re beautiful. We deflect the compliments on our physical appearance because to our eyes, we still don’t measure up to a woman we saw in a magazine or on a screen, or heard about from a guy’s mouth. We don’t acknowledge our own soul beauty, either, because to our minds, we’ve been taught to be meek, humble, demure. So that whether I’ve gone to groups with my best attempt at dazzler hair or it pulled back into a sloppy bun or made sure to put on my face or just let the real, tired thing out in all it’s glory and I consistently did not attract young men, I wondered how I could just get them to see the beauty I knew was inside.
But we can also reject the beauty of our soul—our gift from God. Sometimes I’m graced with the ability to see myself in an inner mirror, and I am ugly: demanding, rude, crude, selfish, uncaring, prideful—you name it, I’ve been it at least once in my life. And there is no cover-up for that. However, with confession, reconciliation, contrition, making amends, and God’s grace, we can improve our appearance—no spree at Sephora needed.
That is because those things are beauty balms for the soul. The knowledge of the bueaty of my ensouled body is what helps me believe—and even accept sometimes—that I am beautiful. And not just that—helps me see the beauty in others.
“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” ~ 1 Samuel 16:7