Sunday, October 21, 2007

beautiful-unedited im sorry

every girls prays that she is secretly beautiful, that she's just waiting for the perfect moment to burst forth in glory. i think most of us in the hidden quiet place of our hearts, a place some of us have denied for so long that we believe it never existed, we are waiting for a prince. wait all you self sufficient feminists out there! i am not in front of you, i don't know your name and i don't know what goes on in your heart. you don't have to war against me. in that secret place it is only you and those whom you grant access. are you arguing with me or are you arguing with yourself? longing for a prince does not make you weak. some of us fear putting that much power in another person, especially men who have behaved so very unprince-like in the past. we are afraid to admit that we need a man to make us beautiful because what if he never comes? what if he finds a princess that is a little less work to beautify? what if he doesn't know how to unlock our glory? what if, and isn't this the kicker here, what the glory simply isn't there? what if he unlocks that place where it is hidden and nothing bursts forth? what if it trickles? what if he laughs and moves on? what will we be then?

it is better, far better to be complete on our own; to know that we do not need another to unlock some secret place. we are who we are and rather than longing to be more, we should be happy with how things sit. we blame others, society, our parents, the media for placing such a ridiculous impossible longing in our hearts. we are inexplicably angry at the world for demanding us to be beautiful when such aspirations are impossible and unimportant. why do they have to care so much? why can't anyone look beyond skin and see that i have value? well i don't need them to tell me i have value, i will tell them of my value myself. i'd like to introduce you to today's confident forward thinking woman, and if you don't love me, screw you! i am wonderful, i am valuable, i am strong, i am fearless, i am smart, i am beautiful, and i will eat you for breakfast. its our mantra. the offensive is so much better than defensive isn't it? the problem is we set out to defeat, to conquer, to squash the world, when the real enemy is the voice inside us (which is really just they're voice ingrained in us over years of conditioning).

its a child's logic isn't it? found in those spontaneous outburst of competitiveness that freckle the play yard, the walk from the jungle gym to the door becomes a speed walk, then a run and the winner slaps the wall and announces triumphantly "i win!" to which the loser sullenly responds, "i wasn't racing!" you can't lose if you don't play. so after years of trying and losing, we announce 'we're not playing!' its easier that way, and we convince ourselves that we'll be so much happier, its a trivial game anyway. if only everyone else would cooperate, because there are still so many who play the game and win, highlighting the flaw in our plan. even so, we know if everyone would simply get on the same page things would work out like they should in theory.

we are convinced that a better world awaits if we can only move beyond the superficial. but even if no one else cares what our outward appearance is, it rarely helps, because we still care ourselves. and really, does it feel any better that no one cares? tell me this, imagine you ask someone you love, a friend, a man, a parent; 'am i beautiful' and imagine they respond, 'i don't care.' is that really what you want to hear? wouldn't that hurt just as much as if the answer were no? of course! you want the answer to be yes! if you disagree you need to spend some heart to heart time with some of us ordinaries. we unremarkable multitude, passed over by many on a daily basis. those of us who weren't disgusting enough to be ostracized but not beautiful enough to be noticed. "is she beautiful?" "well, she's not ugly." not to say we don't have our moments, but we don't want moments of glory. we want people to stop on the street and stare, we want people to be overcome by our radiance, to be dumbstruck by our beauty. or even just one! even as we strive to care only about what’s on the inside, we know, even if we don’t realize we know, that it is impossible.

no one wants to be beautiful on the inside. well, no one wants to be beautiful only on the inside. i believe the desire for beauty is one of the most primitive and fundamental desires we have, maybe it is just women or mostly women (because everyone longs for beauty). is there anything that can move us like beauty? those sweet glimpses of perfection that make our souls ache for something more. we live in an ugly world, rather we live in a beautiful world that is filled with ugliness. we are repulsed by the decay that we see in the earth itself as well as people. age, illness, self mutilation, self deploration, anger, pain, apathy, weariness these all contribute to the ugliness that imbeds itself in our flesh. it is not an accident or a cruel joke of fate that we are plagued by ugliness, marred by scars and the traces of time, worry, fear, and sin. it says in the word that with sin, death entered the world and permanently infected our flesh. it doesn't say, but i believe that death brought ugliness as a reminder that we are dying. is there anything more heartbreaking than a man or woman on the edge of death? frail, weak, thin, sagging, sallow or discolored skin, sharp angles, shadows these are reminders of the sin that plagues this world exactly like a fatal and chronic disease.

we all long to be beautiful and spend a great deal of time, money, and worry on the subject. unfortunately we have to admit that many of us are not. it wouldn't be so bad but for the few that are beautiful (and the many that become so artificially). they draw the rest of us into sharp relief, its as if they are cheating, or God isn't being fair. why should they get to be beautiful and the rest of us painfully ordinary or worse. the answer is the same as why some of us are born healthy while so many are not. i consider ugliness on the same par as genetically inherited disease, it is a flaw and one we can do nothing about. i do not have the answers to these questions but one answer is that if there were no physical reminders of the sin under which we live, it would be much easier to deny (and it is so easy already). many, including we christians, see the problem and wrongly assume that the answer is that outward beauty doesn't matter. not so! how could something that so easily illicits such a passionate response not matter. such things matter more than anything because they remind us not of what is but what should be. we were created beautiful (so often we stop at 'good' and think only of internal goodness which is very important, but who would compare a steady reliable field of wheat to the garden of eden? the one is good, yes, but the other is bettermerely becase it is beautiful. the garden of eden wasn't good simply because of the lush and plentiful fruit, but also because of the flowers). our longing for beauty is an inherited memory of that time in eden, surrounded by beauty, and the hope that one day we will see it again. it takes us beyond the mortal to the immortal realms that wait for us. we should never deny the heavenly aspects of our soul.

also, to say that we should only care about inner beauty is as if saying all the beauty with which God has graced us in this broken world does not matter. appreciate beauty, long for beauty, but realize its source. once we realize that, like our sin there is nothing we can do to rid ourselves of ugliness we must either accept the bad (trying to pretend that its not so very bad) or find another mode of relief. you can probably guess what(who) that mode is. anyone who knows me well (hopefully) has heard me rave about a particular passage in ezekiel (no, not that one!!) which i staunchly believe God wrote primarily for us women though i'm sure it speaks to men if perhaps in a more intellectual or peripheral way. to me, and, i pray, to you, this is balm on an aching soul. this is truly the original cinderella story, complete with the most handsomest of princes...

thus says the Lord God to jerusalem: your origin and your birth are of the land of the canaanites; your father was an amorite and your mother a hittite. and as for your birth, on the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to cleanse you, nor rubbed with salt, nor wrapped in swaddling cloths. no eye pitied you, to do any of these things to you out of compassion for you, but you were cast out on the open field, for you were abhorred, on the day that you were born.
and when i passed by you and saw you wallowing in your blood, i said to you in your blood, live! i made you flourish like a plant of the field. and you grew up and became tall and arrived at full adornment. your breasts were formed, and your hair had grown; yet you were naked and bare.
when i passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and i spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; i made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord God, and you became mine. then i bathed you with water and washed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil. i clothed you also with embroidered cloth and shod you with fine leather. i wrapped you in fine linen and covered you with silk. and i adorned you with ornaments and put bracelets on your wrists and a chain on your neck. and i put a ring on your nose and earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen and silk and embroidered cloth. you ate fine flour and honey and oil. you grew exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. and your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through the splendor that i had bestowed on you, declares the Lord God.
i wish this was the end of the story. unfortunately, the story goes on to explain in terms definitely not intended for children, how cinderella, overcome with vanity, turns from the prince that saves her to other lovers. to those who fawn and flatter and lie. she exchanges her royal robes for the raiment of a harlot. she forgot how her prince rescued her, how he gave her beauty and love when everyone else had abandoned her. she threw away the gifts he had given her on worldly pursuits. she indulged in the trends and vain pursuits of the world, and trusted them to make her happy. she started chasing after her lovers, making herself worse than a prostitute for at least a prostitute is paid for her promiscuity. instead cinderella bribed people to love her, to treat her like a whore.
the prince was so hurt, so scorned that he turned away from cinderella, he withdrew his blessings, and left her to her evil and hurtful deeds. his pain was so keen that he gathered her many lovers around her, stripped her of all the gifts of beauty and love that he had bestowed upon her and made her stand before them naked and shamed. once they saw her without her beauty and fine clothes they turned from her in anger, they burned down her house, they shunned her and turned her away from her lofty social circles, they made a mockery of her in every realm and she was utterly alone, abandoned by those she so tirelessly pursued.

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