Beauty… this topic is a mine field. Which is a shame because its a wholly God ordained thing. Where we see beauty we see marks of a beautiful creator, who makes things excellently. The created reflect the awe of the maker, and in doing so reveal a little more of the divine.
I think the main problem with using the world beautiful is that its meaning is so limited. The image of a beautiful being is so constrained to a type… slim, clear skin, tamed glossy hair, fine symmetrical features. Of course all of these things are beautiful, but part of a wild and diverse spectrum of beauty.
In my own personal development I have had some very big problems with body image, and suffered with certain bi-products of behavior to cope. At times I have felt like I was trying to break out of an unclean and unworthy casing, which is painful on many levels.
I reached a point where I could let these feelings or insecurities or even habits swallow me, or with some courage and support, eyeball these problems and look to move on. To opt into restoration was the best choice, but no easy option.
In my road to recovery I learnt a lot of liberating lessons. I learnt that life and health are beautiful, and really the best places to appreciate the beauty of life. I learnt that perfection comes at a cost, and anything other than looking after our natural make-up really hurts. Masquerading creates a deep disharmony within.
On a side note this inauthenticity deals a painful blow to any relationship with God. To face He who is truth itself is painful when you are running with all your might in the other direction.
I also learnt that to embrace your own unique beauty takes heaps of courage. In our culture to sit back and enjoy who you are, without trying to punish or discipline your flawed anomalous bits, is so outrageous it can almost be offensive.
Christ’s call to us to live under his grace meets us here. Here we learn that our inadequacies are now with him, and begin to know the hope of full restoration, (in the now and not yet of our salvation). No longer managing our flawed-ness on our own and no longer required to.
Health and life are beauty. This is where the ‘God seed of beauty’ planted deep within flourishes and is nourished. This generous kind of beauty invites others to embrace their own sacred identity as a created and wholly/holy beautiful being. This is opposed to the intimidating insecure pursuit of beauty that focuses inward and generates an atmosphere of inadequacy.
A living legend and hero of mine is Pip Wilson, a youth worker in London. His audacious claim is that he is a ‘Beautiful Human Person’. In turn so are all people he deals with; strangers, friends, the young people he works with. His ballsy naming of all people as beautiful inspires me.
I suspect that regarding beauty, this is our call as Christians. Maybe even more poignantly as Christian youth workers, working with those who’s identities are still so fragile in their formation. To courageously and unashamedly call ourselves created as beautiful, clean, pure and wholesome in Christ, and marked by the hope of all God is yet to make us. And in turn, inviting others to share in this new identity.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17