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Where do we find beauty?

WorkingWomen.com posted a picture of a weathered, elderly female with the caption: "A beautiful face will age and a perfect body will change, but a beautiful soul will always be a beautiful soul."  I could not agree more!  We spend so much money and time trying to attain/maintain the perfect complexion, avoiding any signs of the aging process having occurred, and so little time actually looking into the eyes to see what the soul behind the face really reveals.  I catch a show on TV now and again where women are trying to "redo" their bodies for totally cosmetic reasons, not because they have some birth defect, life-altering scar from a traumatic event, or the like - just because they want smaller this or bigger that.  What does all this effort produce?  For most of them it still leaves a sense of dissatisfaction because they are "career lifters/fillers"!  They aren't fulfilled by their first attempt to get the "perfect image", so they go back time and again to "redo" what has been done. Let me just say I am so God looks at the inside and doesn't notice my wrinkles, gray hair, or even the occasional "wild hair" on my chin!

Don’t focus on decorating your exterior by doing your hair or putting on fancy jewelry or wearing fashionable clothes; let your adornment be what’s inside—the real you, the lasting beauty of a gracious and quiet spirit, in which God delights. (I Peter 3:3-4 VOICE)

I don't think God wants us to let our bodies "go", but I also don't think he wants our outward appearance to be the overarching focus of our lives.  In fact, he spends so much time in scripture telling us to focus on allowing change to occur in our "inner man" that he really doesn't have much to say about the outward appearance at all.  There are a handful of occasions when scripture mentions the individual had "ruddy appearance", or something along the line of "Abishag possessed stunning beauty", but really the emphasis always comes back to what is on the inside that really matters.
It doesn't matter if you follow a gluten-free, Paleo, or low-carb diet.  It doesn't matter if you spend 10 hours a week at the gym, or if you wear out a pair of Nike's every two months from running each morning.  Spend time with God and allow him to fine-tune your inner spirit and you will be MORE beautiful than all of this effort combined could ever produce!

So, I have had some people tell me they really don't know how to spend this time with Jesus every day.  I guess I have tried a lot of things over the years, but nothing has proven to be more effective in my life than just getting my eyes off everything else for a little while and allowing him to speak to me through his Word, good music, or the comforts of nature around me.  Let me assure you that the times of burying myself in the books were good - but I didn't really notice the change in my life until I just began to feel comfortable with God.  It isn't as though I am saying I just "hang" with him, but I don't have to be all "formal" about my time with him to make it count - to have it affect my inner person.

I love music, so putting on a good worship station, or streaming some songs I enjoy may just set the stage for God to begin to speak into my life.  I enjoy listening to the birds, watching them bob around the yard, and skitter here and there.  In those moments of watching them, or even observing the industrious labor of the ants on an anthill, I see little bits of truth God wants me to lay hold of in my life.  Things like how he provides to even the sparrows of the field, with seeds, small insects, and even the occasional considerate "bird-feeder" in the neighborhood - so why would I worry he doesn't do that on a totally magnified level when it comes to my needs?  I see the ants scurry hither and yon, all working together, and I think of the beauty of being part of a gigantic family in Christ - all with a mission / purpose to serve him.

Most importantly, when I just allow his Word to begin to speak to me - taking in even small portions of it (2-3 verses a day), it begins to change the way I think, how it is I make my decisions, and for whom it is I make those choices.  Instead of making all those choices to please others, I focus a little bit differently on pleasing him.  It isn't in the volume of time you spend - it is what occurs IN the time you spend.  It isn't in the volumes you read or take in from the printed page - it is what begins to transform the "inner you" that matters.  As much as we might want to be "totally put together" today, trust me on this - God isn't finished with any of us, so stop trying to rush perfection!  Just sayin!

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