This morning, Today Show’s Matt Lauer interviewed a movie starlet who has struggled with personal issues for most of her young life. She was unrecognizable.
Her hair, normally a mousy brown, was gleamingly yellow and long, the makeup was heavy, and the dress made certain that no one paid attention to any feature other than her long legs.
“Who is she?” I found myself wondering. There was no way to tell by looking at her. She was in camouflage, wearing a mask every bit as effective as the riders on a Mardi Gras float.
We can say the same thing about several older celebs. Joan Rivers and Dolly Parton come to mind. Underneath all that camouflage is someone, and we assume, someone worth knowing. But as for “who is at home” underneath the disguise, only a privileged few ever find out.
Someone once said about Los Angeles as a city: There’s no ‘there’ there.
Looking at the young person who has turned herself into a mannikin to display the work of cosmetologists and clothes designers, we wonder, “Who is there?”
When your makeup, coiffure, and clothing dazzle everyone around to the point that no one notices “you,” it’s time to cut back on the accessories and start peeling back the layers of adornment to the real person underneath.
Do you remember what workers discovered in painting the stacks on the Queen Mary?
As I recall, when the huge ship was docked in Long Beach, California, sometime ago, the owners decided that instead of simply adding another coat of paint to the exterior, they would strip away all the layers to get back to the underlying reality. That’s when they discovered it.
There was no metal in the stacks. It had long since rusted away. The stacks were literally being held up by the thick layers of paint applied over the decades.
If they took off the paint, they would have nothing left.
Remind you of anyone in particular?
Young people–and let’s admit it up front, we’re speaking primarily of girls here–who ape the culture will load up on cosmetics, mascaras, and hair treatments. They will spend money they don’t have to have their nails professionally done, ears and face drilled and metalled, and buy costly clothing which only their peers find “cool.” They will do all this out of fear.
They’re afraid of not looking like the group they run with and/or those they want to impress. No matter that the rest of the world is aghast at what they are doing to their bodies and the travesty of hiding genuine beauty underneath all those treatments.
Then, something happens.
Along comes a girl or woman or (ahem) girl/woman (late teens) who does not subscribe to this errant philosophy of adorning the skin while forgetting what it contains, a female with genuine beauty–the kind that originates down inside and beams outward–and they will stare at her as though she had just dropped in from Mars.
Real beauty has a way of stunning, of dropping jaws, of shutting mouths.
Only the courageous dare go for real beauty. The fearful dare not buck the trends.
Let your real beauty be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. (I Peter 3:4)
Sometimes in my talks to high school students on this (or a related) subject, I will make a proposition to the teens. There are two students I want you to keep an eye on. One is beautiful on the outside but ugly on the inside. The other is rather plain on the outside, but with an inner beauty. As the years come and go, if they continue to live as they are now, something radical happens.
In time, the young beauty with the ugly spirit loses her glow and becomes unattractive. But the plain Jane, pardon the expression, with the inner beauty becomes more and more lovely.
Think of it as a divine alchemy.
When I became Mildred Phillips’ pastor, she was 75 years old. At the time, I was 33 and thought she was ancient. (smiley-face goes here.) This lovely lady radiated the love of Christ. She was absolutely one of the most radiant, lovely people I’d ever met. Then, one day while looking at some old photographs of the church during the 1940s, I saw a shot of Aunt Millie, as we called her, and was stunned. She was so plain-looking I could hardly believe it was the same person.
The Holy Spirit, in time, had given her the complete makeover.
And, let me add, since she continued growing in beauty as she aged into her 80s and beyond, I know nothing to make me doubt that that same process is not continuing on into eternity.
Young people who wish to be taken seriously in life as well as in their Christian walk would do well to steer clear of excessive accoutrements that dazzle the eyes of beholders but deflect from their true self and real beauty.
David knew a thing or two about human beauty. He gave us this line which is repeated three times in Psalms 42 and 43. Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.
The Help of my countenance. Get that? He’s the added extra which believers have to make them truly beautiful.
So, here then are our (ahem) beauty suggestions for believers from Joe’s Handy Neighborhood Salon:
1. Decide whether you believe the Lord or not.
If you do not believe Him and His word, you’re on your own and need read no further. Good luck. Use all the artificial beauty enhancers you can find; you’ll need them.
2. If you do believe, then consider spending the amount of time you would otherwise devote to beautifying yourself to draw close to the Lord in the mornings in prayer and worship.
Deborah worked in real estate and felt that her personal appearance was her most important asset. It wasn’t, but there was no telling her otherwise. She said to me one day, “I rise at 4 o’clock every morning. It takes me a full two hours to do my hair and makeup before I’m ready to see anyone.” I was speechless.
If you decide to give the Lord the opportunity to radiate His presence from within, then you must spend time in His presence each day. And not only that, it’s important to “practice His presence” throughout your day.
3. Remember, as the Lord begins perfecting your inner beauty and displaying it, others will see it before you do.
Exodus 34 tells us that when Moses descended from Sinai after spending weeks in the very presence of the Almighty Himself, “he did not know that the skin of his face shone.”
The radiant one is usually the last to know.
4. Give the Lord time. When He makes a diamond, He does not rush the process.
We are impatient, aren’t we? As the fellow prayed, “Lord, give me patience and give it to me right now!”
An old hymn tells us to “Take Time to Be Holy.” That’s a good reminder, because it does indeed take time.
5. A good description of the kind of beauty the Lord perfects can be found in Galatians 5.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, humility, faithfulness, and self-control. It’s a picture of the personality of Christ, if you must know.
So when you pray for Christlikeness, this is what you are asking for. However….
6. His image coming through you will be unlike anyone else on the planet.
The Lord has no cookie cutters. He seems to have an aversion to doing the same thing twice. What He makes of you in character and in countenance will be unique, the real you He had in mind from the first.
7. Eventually, when your beauty is at its zenith, you will laugh at the foolish ideas you once had about beauty.
So, go for it, my friend. No matter your age. After all, it’s never too late to get smart or to be our very best.