The Power of “Beautiful”

“Beautiful” is defined by the Merrian-Webster dictionary as “having the qualities of beauty, exciting aesthetic pleasure”.  As women in this society, sometimes unfortunately, beauty is something we all strive for in life.  You can turn on the television and see any number of cosmetic commercials, facial cleanser commercials, exercise equipment commercials, and even find the toll-free number to contact your favorite plastic surgeon.  Women in the media industry today are portrayed as young, thin things with flawless skin and not an ounce of cellulite on their bodies.  We are programmed to believe that we must be beautiful to be popular, to succeed in life, to find a husband, to find the perfect job…  I’m here to give a little different perspective.

I had an awakening to the importance of hearing the word “beautiful” a few months ago and it was something I had never even given a moment’s pause to I’m a little embarrassed to say.  I’m a woman who is in the process of adjusting to a life without a man present.  My mother is a woman who is in the process of adjusting to life without her man of more than 42 years present.  A strange thing occurs.  If you are a woman who has been fortunate enough to have a man (or woman) in your life tell you on a fairly consistent basis that you are “beautiful” or “lovely” then you go through the loss of that relationship and stop hearing those words it causes you to begin to wonder…  Am I still that?  It’s like the old expression about, “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it does it still make noise?”  If we stop hearing that we are beautiful does that mean we cease to be it? 

I had a conversation with a girlfriend of mine and was expressing the pain I felt for what my mother was going through adjusting to life without my dad.  I knew a certain amount of sadness and loss was involved- of course- but more so was worried that she had started making comments I wasn’t used to hearing this normally very confident, independent woman stating.  My girlfriend said to me, “Your father was the man who for more than 40 years has told your mother that she’s beautiful.  He’s gone now.”  In that very instant my heart sank.  I understood.  We all want to hear it.  The female, emotional side of us needs to be complimented.  Even if we don’t admit it, we do.  You can be having the worst day ever, but to be stopped and given a compliment can instantly change your mood for the better.  I learned an important lesson that day. 

My mother is without a doubt the most beautiful woman I know.  Not only outwardly, but inwardly.  As I’ve gotten older it’s funny to me how the outward, socially-acceptable definition of “beauty” has fallen by the wayside and given room to what I believe is the more important, substance-holding definition of “beauty”.  In my teens I probably would have told you that a true “beauty” to me was someone who was fit, tan, had perfect teeth, and a lovely wardrobe.  In the 80’s we had the beginning of the era of the “super model”.  Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, and Linda Evangelista were in practically every commercial, George Michael music video, and clothing ad that was in print or on television.  They were the pinnacles to which we as mortal women were to fruitlessly strive for- perfect hair, perfect face, 24-inch waists, and a bust line which was surgery attainable.  Now, an older and I hope much wiser Amanda would tell you that beauty is so much more about who we are at the very core of our being. 

My mother gave the greater part of her life to contribute endlessly to the upbringing and well-being of me and my sister.  She put her entire life on hold the moment she became a mother to invest every second she had to nurturing us into becoming the people we are today.  I will forever be grateful and in awe of the dedication and time she devoted to us.  I’m so blessed that this insight and understanding spilled over into me the day I became a mother.  Our lives quickly stop being about “us” and immediately start being about “them”.  Just as it should be.

When I think of beautiful women that I know I can instantly see all of the females I have in my life.  I see good mothers and teachers.  I see women who strive every day to teach what they’ve learned and to make their little sections of the world a better place for their families to live in.  I see counselors and educators.  I see women who have made mistakes, learned from them, and moved on. 

When I see my mother in her cutie-cute outfits, with her styled hair I tell her that I think she looks lovely.  She is.  I like to imagine that the torch of sharing that information was secretly passed from my father on to me.  I adore the woman she represents.  I think she is stylish and fun-loving, but what I see most when I see Carolynn is the beauty that radiates from her insides out.  This woman has taught my sister and me the Word of God from the time we were children.  We have seen daily examples in her life of how Christ is supposed to shine through us.  One of my most memorable “Carolynn as a teacher” stories is when I was about 8 years old and we had gone grocery shopping at Safeway Grocery Store in Ft. Smith, Arkansas.  A women in line in front of us was at the check out with her 2 little children and she was frantically counting out her change trying to pay for her milk.  My mother recognized the distress this woman was feeling and quietly leaned over to her and said, “Let me buy your milk for you as a gift from Jesus.  This is what He wants us to do.”  That happened 34 years ago and I can still remember it like it was yesterday.  What a life lesson it was to these young eyes.  “Beauty” in the flesh standing before me perfectly demonstrating the love of Christ.

Proverbs 31:30

English Standard Version (ESV)

30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

1 Peter 3:3-4

English Standard Version (ESV)

3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

As women we all want to feel beautiful, desired, and attractive.  I won’t try to deny that.  It would be dishonest to do so.  I think it is important that we as women tell the other women in our lives that they are beautiful and not be afraid to give a compliment.  However, I know there is a beauty which is much more important than the weight, or the wrinkles, or the crow’s feet that we all begin to worry about as we age.  I feel that women who have learned the deepest definition of beauty when it comes to us as the female creature understand the little-promoted idea that what makes us truly beautiful isn’t a perfectly-symmetric face or eyes which are just the right color or distance from one another. These women have learned that how we love each other and treat other people and what we choose to do with our time here on this earth is what molds us into category of “beautiful”.  I hope that as my daughter ages I can convey to her that outward beauty is fleeting, but it is the woman that we are inside- the woman that we nurture and grow- that actually has life-long value.  That is the beauty I desire.  I want to be a woman who is beautiful in that way just as my mother is.

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. stilishbabe
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 02:39:46

    nowadays I don’t think standards are surviving… But mostly girls see skinny as beautiful,but I don’t agree with that! great post!

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  2. mandaclair
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 07:39:34

    It would be nice if the world in general would stop giving so much importance to the superficial and focus more on what has true worth. I don’t think I see that happening, though. I guess that’s why I feel such a responsibility to my own children to teach them those lessons.

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  3. mandaclair
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 07:40:02

    …and thank you for your comment!

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  4. Charlotte King
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 08:38:39

    What a wonderfull tribute to your mother, the wise & beatiful Carolynn. It shows how much you love and adore her; and the wisdom you have gained, not only from her but from life’s lessons. I loved this article, you are so gifted!

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  5. Sharon
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 15:38:16

    Loved the blog Amanda…Beautifully written..Helped me to see my mother also
    beautiful

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    Reply

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