Thursday, January 28, 2016

Beauty at the Crossroads: Which Way Do I Go?

by Danetta Kellar

We bumped and bounced along the narrow road, white dust floating up in plumes like baby powder around our four-wheel drive. Confident and laughing, we chattered about the different animals we encountered in the savanna that afternoon. The lion who had taken a lazy nap on the rock just by the road. The giraffes who danced a ballet duet with their necks.

Our happy reverie was abruptly interrupted as our driver brought us to a jolting stop. The road ended in a perfect t-junction, and something was standing right in the middle of it. Something BIG. As the dust settled, we began to make out what it was.

An elephant, twice as large as our vehicle, stood smack in our way. Defiant and angry, she raised her long trunk and trumpeted louder than the archangel himself.

We all stopped breathing for a moment, not able to be afraid and breathe at the same time.

Our driver looked up at her, grabbed the wheel more tightly, and revved the engine like a monster. Again, and again, he roared. 

The great grey matriarch stared at us with her ancient eyes for a moment longer. Then she turned and lumbered away (I don’t think elephants ever move very quickly). Behind her we could now see a baby elephant trailing close as they disappeared into the tall grass.

Danger averted, we now had only to decide whether to turn right or left.

I stood at a similar junction again not too long ago. However, it was right here in my own bathroom mirror, and the metaphorical elephant standing in my way looked a lot like me. Wrinkles where skin used to be smooth. Gray hair in the place of dark brown. Lumps and bumps in places they shouldn’t be. Sagging and bagging making clothes fit differently. Makeup and time carefully spent resulting in what looks like an older woman trying to cover things up. 

I was over 40, and the rumors were true. Beauty was fading. Fast. The fear of losing it stood in my way like a 12,000 pound elephant.

I increased my mileage and ran harder. I cleansed my system of toxins and ate only fresh food. I creamed and powdered, sculpted and concealed, brushed and moisturized my skin. I worked hard and chased Beauty, trying to catch it and make it stay. 

Beauty is a fickle lover. It embraces you one day and the next flirts with someone younger, more energetic, thinner.

The elephant stood there in my mirror staring at me, trumpeting at my efforts and reminding me the clock was ticking. 

Like the t-junction in the middle of the savanna so long ago, two paths stood before me. 

Inner Beauty.

Outer Beauty.

I had to make a choice. I revved up my engine, and roared like a lion.

For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation. Psalm 149:4
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30
The King is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your Lord.
Psalm 45:11

The elephant froze for a moment, then vanished. I made the intentional choice to take the narrow path, the overgrown one. The one requiring a Map, a Guide. 

I will pursue Inner Beauty, I determined. 

After all, it took the Israelites 40 years to reach the Promised Land. Maybe life after 40 is just the beginning of Real Beauty.

To make it even sweeter, I have learned a secret.

When the path of Inner Beauty is chosen, the plainest, most faded outside becomes radiant. 

The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. Psalm 19:8-9

Somehow the clear pure air of the Way of Inner Beauty purifies the inside and the outside, creating beauty both within and without. Forever, timeless. It is a mystery, and a certainty.

I’m still exercising and eating food that loves me back. (Dark chocolate loves me particularly well). I take care of my body and thank God for what it allows me to do. I’m still shoe-shopping, because, well, a girl needs her shoes no matter how old she is. And I just learned a trick to hide the circles under my eyes. 

But I am not chasing Beauty anymore, trying to make it stay. I have another Love. I have found it in my God, my King. I'm chasing Him.

Each morning before I attend to the outward, I consult with Him about the map for the day. He shows me who needs me, what needs to be done. He quietly leads me to places where beauty hides in the lives of people around me. He shows me a better way, a lovely way. Jesus is building beauty in me that will never fade.

Do you want to grow in beauty even as the outward self grows older? Do you wish to grace your outward beauty with a loveliness that is radiant from a secret place deep inside? Choose the path of Inner Beauty with me. Let’s start an intentional movement of beautiful women who aren't afraid of aging.

How have you responded to beauty that fades? Join the beauty conversation!


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