When we speak about the essence of a woman - her beauty - we don't mean "the perfect figure." The beauty of a woman is first a soulish beauty. We know - it's a harder jump to make. We've lived so long under the pressure to be beautiful. But stay with the thought for a moment, because it will really help. The beauty of a woman is first a soulful beauty. And yes, as we live it out, own it, inhabit our beauty, we do become more lovely. More alluring. As the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote, "Self flashes off frame and face." Our true self becomes reflected in our appearance. But it flows from the inside out.
The essence of a woman is Beauty. She is meant to be the incarnation - our experience in human form - of a Captivating God. A God who invites us.
"You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride;
you have stolen my heart
with one glance of your eyes,
with one jewel of your necklace.
You are a garden fountain,
a well of flowing water
streaming down from Lebanon." (Songs 4:9, 15)
Beauty is what the world longs to experience from a woman. We know that - somewhere down deep, we know it to be true. Most of our shame comes from this knowing and feeling that we have failed here. So hear this: Beauty is an essence that dwells in every woman. It was given to her by God. It was given to you.
Surely you would agree that God is nothing if not beautiful.
All around us God's creation shouts of his beauty and his goodness. The way snow creates a silhouette of lace on a barren tree, the rays of sun streaming forth from a billowing cloud, the sound of a brook trickling over smooth stones, the form of a woman's body and the face of a child anticipating the arrival of the ice cream truck all speak of God's good heart if we will have but the eyes to see. The coming of spring after a hard winter is almost too glorious for a soul to bear. God's beauty is lavished on the world.
Beauty may be the most powerful thing on earth. Beauty speaks. Beauty invites. Beauty nourishes. Beauty comforts. Beauty inspires. Beauty is transcendent. Beauty draws us to God.
A woman in her glory, a woman of beauty, is a woman who is not striving to become beautiful or worthy or enough. She knows in her quiet centre where God dwells that He finds her beautiful, has deemed her worthy and in him, she is enough. In fact, the only thing getting in the way of our being fully captivating and enjoyed is our hiding and striving.
So Jesus says, "I will quiet you with My love" (Zephaniah 3:17). A woman of true beauty is a woman who in the depths of her soul is at rest; trusting God because she has come to know Him to be worthy of her trust. She exudes a sense of calm; a sense of rest; and invites those around her to rest as well. She speaks comfort; that all is well; that all will be well. A woman of true beauty offers others the grace to be and the room to become. In her presence, one can release the tight sigh that so often grips our hearts, and breathe in the truth that God loves us and he is good.
This is why we must keep asking. Ask Jesus to show you your beauty. Ask him what he thinks of you as a woman. His words to us let us rest. And unveil our beauty.