Inner Beauty. We all have it. Most of us hide it.
Going back to the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty that I mentioned in 102/444, they found that two-thirds of all women strongly agree that ‘physical attractiveness is about how one looks, whereas beauty includes much more of who a person is.’ Women in the study “rated many inner qualities ahead of physical appearance attributes in their evaluation of ‘what makes a woman beautiful’. This demonstrates that ‘beauty’ is seen by women as richer and more complex than the physical ideals that dominate popular culture. The top 7 of 19 qualities were NOT physical…Beauty is…Happiness, Kindness, Confidence, Dignity, Humor, Intelligence, Wisdom, Spirituality.
So the question I want to pose is…if Beauty is more than skin deep, why do we hide it so?
I find that the reasons we hide our inner beauty tend to come from several different areas of our souls. They may even be areas that have been dealt with, but that still ‘pop-up’ now and then. See if you resonate with any of the following…I know I do.
Low Self Worth: “I am not worthy.” This is Satan’s greatest psychological weapon. And it’s not his telling us that it is true, because it’s absolutely true, we are not worthy, but his power comes in convincing us that there is no antidote. I wrestled with God often on this one. I coordinate the Women’s Ministry at our church and speak at our annual retreats, but every year I ask Him “Why have you chosen me to speak to these women?” and “What do I have to offer?”
Shame/Ashes/Scars: I saw a hand beaded blouse that had a tag in it that read “I am your special garment. I am unique and often hand woven, hand-beaded, hand-printed and hand-painted. My defects are part of my beauty.” If only we came with such a tag. That our scars are part would be considered part of our beauty. Those scars and shame sometimes come from choices we have made (absolutely my affair) and sometimes from choices others have made against us (from teasing and unkind words to the sexual abuse I experienced).
Fear: At the core of who we are, I believe we all fear rejection. But perhaps a new twist on that thought is “What if they reject me, especially the beautiful parts of me? The parts of me that I do think are beautiful?” Because if I’m ‘ugly’, inside or out…it’s more endurable that I am rejected. But reject the good in me? I’m not sure I can bear that depth of rejection.
Pretending:And I have found that when we fear rejection, many times we become The Great Pretender. Call her what you will, false self – the mask – the imposter. All I know is she is not real and that she makes it difficult to be in ‘real’ relationship with others because we can never let our guard down and drop the mask, because what might happen then? They might get to know the real you…and maybe you’ve been pretending so long that you don’t even know who you truly are.
The Imposter is preoccupied with acceptance and approval. My High School self was the imposter. She was popular, athletic, involved in everything…so that everyone would like her…but she was incredibly lonely. Because of my pretending, I missed out on much.
Angela Thomas says in Do You Think I’m Beautiful (Yes, that book again. I’m telling you, it’s a MUST read!) that “Pretending is not living. It’s a subcategory of living. When we pretend, we are alive and present, but missing the breadth and depth that God intended for our lives.” When we pretend, we miss the life God intends for us. “God meant for life to take our breath away, sometimes because of the sheer joy of it all and sometimes because of the severe pain.” You can’t really know the full extent of one (joy) without opening yourself up to the possibility of the other (pain). I didn’t know the fullness of real joy because I would not allow myself to go to the depths of pain.
Whispers/Unbelief: What are the whispers that you hear? “You’re not beautiful” “No one could ever love you” “What were you thinking? “Hope? That shouldn’t even be a word in your vocabulary?” I know I’ve heard all these and more.
Where do you find yourself in the above descriptions? They may not be exactly your story or your pain, but my guess is you’re there somewhere. I’m going to leave it here for today and tomorrow we will explore what reveals our Inner Beauty.