Sunday, June 20, 2010

Defining Beauty

I mentioned earlier that I've started a new Bible study (5 Conversations You Must Have with Your Daughter by Vicki Courtney) and I'm still not sure how I feel about it.  I'm not one that quickly settles into new things.  I sit down and then push and prod, twist and turn, fidget and wriggle until I decide it's time to get up and leave or get busy.  Usually, I choose to get busy but it takes me awhile to settle.  I'm still in the fidgeting and wriggling stage with this study.

Right now, fidgeting and wriggling involves critiquing the aurthor's style, writing questions and comments in the margins of the book and thinking a lot about the things other than what the study is actually trying to discuss.  Fidgeting is usually a sign that there is learning to be had.  It often indicates that I'm feeling a stretch in my spirit or mind.  Usually the best response to a stretch like that is to settle in and get to work so I expect that's what I'll do.

I have finished the first week of the study and while I like Vicki's intention of replacing our worldly standards of beauty with Biblical standards, I'm not sure that really lowers the bar as much as it relocates it and perhaps even raises it.  Perfect physical beauty, I agree, is not the source of all peace and happiness.  First of all, it's too fleeting. Secondly, it's truly in the eye of the beholder.  Not good characteristics for lasting joy.  But Biblical beauty is so much more than just what you see and can, ideally, lead to lasting joy.

Vicki uses Proverbs 31:10-31 as her model for God's standard of beauty.  Then she presents the task; as you think about God's standard, list five women you know who are truly beautiful.  Now, I know some pretty incredible women.  Many who have a heart for God and for others.  Many who are amazing mothers,sisters, daughters, wives, women but I'm not sure I know anyone that embodies the definition of beauty set out in Proberbs 31.  That woman had huge shoes and filling them seems more than daunting.  I'm not sure that comparing myself daily to Lady Proverbs is going to make me feel any more confident and capable than comparing myself to Jennifer Garner.  Either way I come up short.

Of course, it doesn't help that my inclination is to throw up my hands in helplessness and say, "If I'm being judged by standards beyond my control, how can I ever expect to make any progress toward beauty."  And that really is the sticking point for me.  There are so many things in this world that I consider to be beautiful.  Sunrises, sunsets, chocolate cheesecake, a perfect omelet, a wide variety of flowers, trees and animals, many views I've seen in many places around the world, my children, paintings and other art..W.  None of these beautiful things have to work to be beautiful, they just are.  So why is it that beauty, whether it be by the worldly or the Biblical standards,  requres so much effort?

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