Posted by: kathryngraves | February 16, 2017

Intentional Beauty

Some people have all the luck. Beauty, brains, braun…all the things we think we want wrapped up in a beautiful package. If we pay attention to the media we might believe that’s what it is. Luck. And that if we have these things, we’ll be happy.

But you and I know it isn’t true. There’s no luck involved, and these things won’t make us happy. Still, we want to be beautiful. We try all kinds of gimmicks to lose weight and make our wrinkles disappear. We use computer games and Sudoku to improve our memories. Why do we do it when we know the truth?

We long for beauty because we were made in the image of Beauty. The Lord Himself created each of us. He tells us in Genesis 1:26 that we are made in His image, and in Genesis 2:7 we read that we have His breath. Our very life comes from Him. And He created all the things that were created. Nothing was created that He did not make. (John 1:3)

Maybe we’ve gotten our idea of beauty a bit tangled up, though. After all, the physical beauty we think of today is a lot different than that of, say, Medieval Japan. We could pick almost any time period other than our own and any culture other than our own and find radically different ideas of physical beauty. So if looks aren’t going to last, and tastes change over time, what’s the point?

The point is that while the outside part of us is transient, the inward part is not. God is not a physical being, and even when He took on human form, He was not particularly attractive. If we are made in His image, it must be something other than physical. It is our spirit. The part of us that lives forever. The part of you that looks out from your eyes. This is where true beauty resides.

In our fallen world, we have substituted the physical beauty we see for the inward beauty we crave. The interesting thing is, when we are beautiful on the inside, it is reflected on the outside–in our countenance. Adam didn’t see Eve for the first time and say, “Okay, another creature I have to name…” I think he probably said something like, “Wow! She’s a keeper!” She was created in the image of beauty and it radiated from her.

However, it didn’t last. Eve sinned and then needed to cover up her body. It no longer radiated beauty. Sin wrecks everything it touches. Ever since then, we’ve had to fight thorns and thistles to cultivate the ground and use potions and elixirs to keep wrinkles away.

That said, I believe we need to be good stewards of what we are given. That message runs throughout the gospels and Paul’s letters. Our bodies are not our own, they are the temples where God dwells, and we are to offer them as living sacrifices. Paul even used the analogy of physical training for a race to make a spiritual point because he made sure his body served its purpose–spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Where does that leave us? We need to make sure that our inside is clean and in touch with God. We need to get rid of attitudes and conversation that does not please Him, not to mention actions. And we need to realize that just like getting our bodies into shape doesn’t happen by accident, neither does cleaning up our inside. We must be intentional about both.

Intentional is my word for 2017. It will determine what goes on my calendar and how I order each day. It will help me weed out the unnecessary and keep my focus on the important. It will help me establish new habits to replace old ones. It will eliminate sloth and laziness. Not by the magic of having chosen it, but by the choice of living by it.

My days will start (as they have for a long time) with prayer and Bible study. Exercise will be important, as will an emphasis on nutrition. My work is writing and I’ll spend most of my time at it. I’ll cultivate relationships and spend time with the ones I love. I won’t let life just happen.

What will your intentionality look like? If you have to go to work in an office, your days will look different than mine. The important thing is to set spiritual, physical and work priorities and then live them out with intention. This is the basic element of the beautiful life.

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My writing nook for a couple of weeks.

Photo: Kathryn Graves

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Responses

  1. Great post, Kathy. The inner beauty you speak is displayed in your written words.

    • Thank you, Martha!

  2. “Maybe we’ve gotten our idea of beauty a bit tangled up ….” Great thought. Reminds me of a special book project. 😉


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