I remember it like it was yesterday. The lights were dim, the decor was perfect, and everything was ready. It was time. I walked in slowly and then said his name.
He turned around.
“You look amazing!!”
The sparkle in his eyes (with maybe a slight glistening of tears) showed the genuineness of his heart. It was our wedding day. We were finally getting to see each other before we took pictures and then officially joined our lives together.
That was one of those moments when I knew I looked beautiful. There had been hours of preparation and days of planning. I had the help of amazing friends to get my makeup and hair just right. And I was ready.
Fast forward to my life now. Those hours of preparation to make sure I look perfect have been re-invested. Which is a nice way to say that I was up with the kids in the middle of the night, I’m exhausted, my hair is a wreck, and my breath stinks. I stumbled into the room where Caleb was and he looked up at me and said, “You’re beautiful.”
To be honest, at that point, I struggled to believe him. Deep inside, I still believe that to be truly beautiful, my outside should be perfect. Thankfully, my amazing husband has been gracious enough to see beyond my outside. Believe me, I’m KNOW he enjoys the outside too (how do you think we got two kids??) but in those moments where I’m a mess and exhausted, I’m so glad he sees beyond my outer shell.
I think God is that way too. Although I know He delights in the varied features, sizes, and colors he created us in, I think He may be looking for a different kind of beauty. He wants the beauty in our lives to come from the inside out – to be something that doesn’t fade with time or get wrinkled and saggy.
Scripture talks about this:
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, 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. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.” (1 Peter 3:3-6 NIV)
This passage is chocked full of amazing depth, but I think it is also one of the most misunderstood passages in scripture addressing women. As I’ve read and studied this passage, there are a few things that have stood out to me.
1. God isn’t against outward beauty
If you read this scripture in the Amplified Bible, there is a little word that makes a HUGE difference. It says “Let not yours be the [merely] external adorning… (emphasis mine).” There isn’t anything wrong with fixing our hair, putting on makeup, and dressing cute. It’s just not supposed to be our main focus. God isn’t as concerned with our style as much as He is with our hearts. We just aren’t supposed to be so focused on the outside that we neglect the inside.
We’ve all met someone who has the gorgeous outside and is completely put together. Then she opens her mouth and suddenly doesn’t look as pretty anymore when the negativity, criticism, and harsh words start flowing. On the flip side, I’ve met amazing women who wouldn’t be considered a model on the outside. But as you spend time with them, the beauty oozes through their pores. You leave your time with them encouraged, uplifted, and at peace.
2. God treasures a gentle and quiet spirit
Before you get all upset about this one, hear me out. This is one of those places where this passage has been misunderstood. This is NOT discussing your personality. If you are by nature direct and loud this is NOT saying you should change. God created you with the personality you have and it is beautiful.
Being gentle is not about being soft and a pushover. Gentleness is controlled strength. It’s the word I tell my kids when they are petting a dog or touching a baby. It’s acknowledging that you have power but you choose to use it in a way that will not harm another.
Being gentle is about taking the power I have with my words and choosing to not say the biting, sarcastic comment that would injure my friend. It’s about using the power I have to uplift and heal rather than using it to tear down and abuse.
I used to make my family mad at times because I would walk into a room so quietly they wouldn’t know I came in and I would scare them. That is NOT what this passage is addressing when it talks about a quiet spirit.
When you look at the passage in the Amplified translation, it translates “quiet” as a “peaceful” spirit that “is not anxious or wrought up.” I tend to work myself into an uproar of worry and anxiety. It is definitely not a quiet place. It is stressful and loud.
God’s heart is that we let Him carry the weight of those anxieties and worries and He wants to replace that with His peace – with a quiet spirit.
3. God desires that we walk under authority
Honestly, I’ve been dreading writing this part of the post. I feel like the concept of submission in the marriage relationship (and in general) has been so misunderstood and has gotten such a bad reputation. And rightly so. The definitions of submission that I have seen don’t make me want to have a part in it either.
I don’t have the time or space in a blog post to delve into this one in depth, but if “submission” has been a trigger word for you in the past, I’d highly recommend reading the book “Finding the Hero In Your Husband” by Dr. Julianna Slattery. She dissects this in detail and it is REALLY good.
Dr. Slattery starts her discussion of submission by defining what it is NOT. It is NOT devaluing me as a woman. It is NOT telling me not to share my opinions. It does NOT mean blind obedience or following a dictatorship. It is NOT enduring abuse.
She defines submission as empowerment. It is empowering the authority we place ourselves under to make the best decisions possible. It is lending our strength to their areas of weakness. It is choosing to place our trust and confidence in God and not in our ability to change the person we are married to. It is about respect and honor even when that may seem undeserved.
The interesting thing about the things God seems to value with inner beauty is that we can’t make any of them happen on our own. I can try my best to be gentle and at peace and to walk under authority, but my best efforts many times end in misusing my strength, stress, and tearing down those I’m supposed to build up. I need His Spirit to help me walk that out. In His grace, He gives that freely. I just have to receive it. It’s a gift.
And it’s a gift that keeps on increasing. As my habits start to change, I can walk in those virtues more and more. It’s not a beauty dependent on time spent primping in front of a mirror, or one that fades with age. It’s one that can increase and grow as I spend time soaking in His Words.
My friend, please know that God’s heart for you today is that you are beautiful. You are amazingly and completely loved. And it isn’t something you can earn. It is something you walk in because of the grace He has freely given.