Feminine beauty is more than discovering new makeup techniques and skin care regimens. In this episode, Leslie shares the best way to enhance your physical beauty — by cultivating true loveliness found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Appeal, allure, and charm will fail even the most stunning of women, but the elegance and radiance of a woman who fears the Lord will endure for eternity.
Leslie Ludy: Hi everyone! It’s Leslie Ludy, host of the Set Apart Girl Podcast: Biblical Encouragement for Women of All Ages. Today we’re starting a new series on feminine beauty, and we’re going to specifically be talking about physical beauty. I know that this is an issue that has caused a lot of confusion for so many women today, and I am definitely no stranger to the frustration and confusion that comes with trying to navigate the pitfalls that are in our culture over the issue of our physical appearance and our physical beauty.
A Vain Attempt at Finding True Beauty
Leslie Ludy: When I was fourteen years old I enrolled in a modeling school with a few of my friends. We thought that maybe somehow if we could sit through these classes we would understand how to get rid of all of our awkwardness, look beautiful, know how to talk, and walk, and be confident, and wear the right clothes. I remember the first day, this instructor got up in front of the class, and she was this absolutely gorgeous blonde in her early twenties. She was a model, she had been on commercials, and I remember thinking, There is no way I could ever look as beautiful as she does!
Throughout this course, even though I learned a lot of practical things about how to apply makeup and how to choose the right clothes, it actually did not give me the confidence that I was craving because no matter what I learned about how to become more attractive and more beautiful, there was always someone in my life that I could compare myself to and feel inferior — whether it would be a magazine cover, or looking at Hollywood movie stars, or even just the popular girls at my school. Even looking at the girls that taught this modeling course made me feel insecure. No matter how polished and refined my outward appearance was, I never really felt beautiful. In fact for the next two years of my life I was really just wallowing in insecurity. Even though I spent countless hours on my clothing and appearance, and tried to apply all the things that I learned in that modeling school at the age of fourteen, it really did nothing to help me overcome insecurity.
In reality it wasn’t until I encountered Jesus Christ in a life-changing way that I began to realize I had been looking to a completely wrong source for my confidence and security. As my soul drew near to Him — in an intimate and personal way — that’s when I began to realize that chasing after this unattainable standard of physical beauty that our culture promotes, it’s like trying to find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It’s just a fool’s errand; it’s an illusion. Proverbs 31:30 says that, “beauty is fleeting” (NIV), and “fleeting” in this verse literally means a vapor, a breath, something transitory and unsatisfactory. That’s an amazing description! In other words, God is saying that chasing after physical beauty is like chasing after the wind. The more you look at our culture’s impossible standards for feminine beauty, the more you begin to understand how real and how true that is.
I remember hearing a graphic designer for a major clothing label talk about what they do to achieve the type of beauty that they have on catalogues, magazine covers, and billboard ads. He said, “We take a normal looking girl, we scan her image into the computer, and then we digitally alter nearly everything about her appearance. We airbrush her skin, we trim inches off her waist, we chisel out her cheekbones, and we do everything we can digitally to make her look like this goddess of perfection. And then we slap that picture on an ad, billboard, or magazine cover – and define that as being physically beautiful.” All the women who see those pictures think, Well, I’m never going to look like that so, therefore, I will never be beautiful.
I remember hearing a famous Victoria’s Secret model doing an interview who was considered to be one of the most beautiful women in the world — but she said, “Everything about my beauty is fake. From the top of my head to the bottom of my feet, it’s all been artificially manufactured.” Then at the end of that statement she made the comment, “Even my heart is fake.”
It was really interesting because she had given herself completely and fully to becoming this image of beauty that the culture promotes and she said, “I’ve achieved this sense of physical beauty of people finding me beautiful, but it’s all fake, and even inwardly I feel fake!”
Set Free to Reflect Jesus’ Beauty
Leslie Ludy: And so as I began to build my life around Christ, these were the kind of stories that I encountered. The things that I began to realize was that if I began to look at my own physical beauty as a source of confidence and security, I would always feel inferior. I would never actually feel that I had achieved the confidence and beauty that I desired.
As I learned how to build my life around Jesus Christ and find my identity in Him, I began to be truly set free from my preoccupation with physical beauty. The more I began to see things from His perspective, the more hollow the pursuit of outward physical beauty became. As I began to really awaken to the emptiness and the shallowness of our culture’s version of physical beauty, my priorities completely shifted. My desire to be noticed for physical beauty was replaced by a desire to simply reflect Jesus Christ — and that right there in a nutshell is the secret to feminine beauty.
When your desire is to get out of the way and to let Christ be seen through your life you will begin to radiate with a lasting beauty that impacts this world around you. It’s not a sensual, worldly beauty, but it’s a Christ-centered, heavenly beauty. Any woman who has been transformed by Jesus Christ can exude this kind of heavenly beauty. It doesn’t matter your age, your body type, or your specific physical traits.
A Deeper Look at Feminine Beauty
Leslie Ludy: I want to take a deeper look at the core qualities that lead to this kind of heavenly feminine beauty because it is so altogether different than the kind of beauty that our culture promotes. Proverbs 31:25 says that a virtuous woman is, “clothed with strength and dignity” (NIV). The word “strength” in this verse means supernatural valor. The word “dignity” means glory, beauty, and splendor.
Now these qualities absolutely cannot be obtained from any fitness routine, diet strategy, makeup technique, or clothing trend. They can only come from Jesus Christ. So when we find our satisfaction and joy in Him, we begin to reflect His valor, glory, beauty, and splendor. Others notice Him shining through our eyes, reflected through our smile, and radiating through our demeanor — no matter what happens to our outward physical body.
Living Reflections of His Radiance
Leslie Ludy: There are a couple incredible stories that I’ve heard in the last few years that illustrate this in a really amazing way! One is a story that’s detailed in a book called, Evidence Not Seen, by Darlene Deibler Rose, and its something that takes place during World War II. She’s a beautiful, young missionary, and she and her husband are captured by the Japanese while they’re serving in New Guinea as missionaries. She and her husband are separated and she’s placed into a women’s work camp — sort of like a concentration camp. She lives in these dirty, overcrowded barracks doing hard labor in the hot tropical sun for years. Her soft, delicate, fair skin becomes rough and weather-beaten. Her slender body becomes ravaged by disease. She gets dysentery, and all sorts of other diseases that cause her physical body to look very sickly. She begins to shrivel into this gaunt, unnatural, very thin, sickly woman.
One day some young boys who live in the labor camp where she’s living tell her that they think she looks like a movie star. She told them thank you, and tears were welling up in her eyes because for months she had watched her physical beauty deteriorate. It blessed her to realize that others still saw beauty when they looked at her, and she knew that it was the beauty of Jesus Christ that they were seeing. No matter what was happening to her outwardly, she was still shining and radiating with that heavenly beauty that nothing could take away no matter what happened to her outward body — such an incredible picture of what God does when He begins to reflect His beauty through our lives!
There’s another story about two young women in China who were disowned by their families when they became Christians. They didn’t have anything but the clothes that they wore. They were turned out of their homes, and they traveled on foot from village to village sharing their faith with anyone who would listen. They had to sleep in the woods. They had to trust God for their every meal. They had no ability to polish or maintain their outward appearance, but even though that was the case people often came up to them and asked why their faces were glowing with radiant beauty. “Whatever it is that makes your face and your eyes shine like that, we want it too!” is what people said to them! And these stories are such an amazing reminder that the source of all true beauty is not earthly but heavenly.
Setting Your Eyes On Jesus Alone
Leslie Ludy: Any beauty apart from Jesus Christ is hollow, vain, empty, and fleeting. It’s nothing more than a mirage. But beauty that flows from His life within us is world-changing and eternal. Our outward appearance can take on the beauty of heaven as He transforms our soul into His likeness. And that’s why women like Darlene Deibler and the two young women in China seemed so beautiful to others, despite the fact that their physical beauty was so drastically changing and challenged.
So if you’re struggling with insecurity with your outward appearance, the solution is probably a lot more simple than you realize. You simply need to take your eyes off yourself, and turn your gaze to Jesus Christ. Immerse yourself in His Word and in His presence. Become transfixed upon His beauty and His splendor. As you gaze upon Him your outward appearance will reflect His radiance.
Think about the martyr, Stephen, who was being stoned. His body was being absolutely decimated by people who hated him, and despite the fact that his outward body was being destroyed and torn apart as he gazed into heaven his face shone like the face of an angel, is what it tells us in Acts 6:15. Isn’t that incredible that just as his earthly body is being ravaged and torn apart, his face is shining like the face of an angel!
Similarly, Moses, when he had been in the presence of God, he had to put a veil over his face because it was so radiant that others couldn’t even look at the glory that was shining from his face. And so, it’s very clear in Scripture that it’s the presence of God, it’s a gaze fixed upon Jesus Christ, that leads to a radiance that will remain even when your earthly body begins to deteriorate and fade away.
Leslie Ludy: When all is said and done, and the world passes away, and we’ve lost our physical beauty, and it’s at the end of our life — we will realize with absolute clarity that charm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting, as it says in Proverbs 31:30. Out of all the women, only those who truly fear the Lord will be beautiful for all of eternity, and I pray that you and I will be counted among them!
I hope you enjoyed today’s episode! For more on this subject read the article, Reflecting His Radiance. I pray you have a blessed and Christ-centered week!