How to be radiantly beautiful each and every day

Note: This isn't just another cliche and stereotypical "you are beautiful" post.

I'll never forget when the doctor hit me with the news. I'd have to live the rest of my life with an ileostomy bag on my stomach. There's really nothing quite like the news that your physical body is going to be permanently wounded, permanently different. As a 24 year old, I just about threw the cards in. I didn't realize how so much of my confidence came from my outward appearance. I was attached to how I looked, I was fed by compliments, and I actually started to question my worth if I wasn't receiving attention. Shameful, but true.

For the following few years, I still struggled with my confidence. I didn't have a rock to stand upon, my confidence was built on sand. There was no sturdy foundation.

Until I met Jesus. 

He came into my life at the perfect time - when I had reached the end of myself. I realized that I was seeking attention from my outward appearance while I was singing with my band in downtown Nashville. The more attention that I'd receive, the better I felt about myself. Jesus sought me out in the midst of my most selfish, self-absorbed time. I knew that the confidence I had was cheap, but I didn't know what else to do, how else to feel alive, where else to find my worth.

Jesus didn't condemn me for my selfishness. He didn't make me feel bad or ashamed, He only welcomed me with open arms and showed me that I didn't have to struggle anymore.

Have you seen those "you are beautiful" signs around your city? I think these are great, but they only really get at the surface of the issue. In our culture, we are inundated with pictures of models and celebrities who seem to set the standard of beauty. We also have a lot of brave women of all shapes and sizes who proclaim their beauty: having curves is beautiful, having a skin condition is beautiful, or for me - having an ostomy - is beautiful. And it is, all of the above are beautiful!!

But, we're still missing the mark...

just transferring the standard of beauty to another body type is not what will heal our brokenness. That's still a surface-level, superficial definition of beauty.

Jesus shows us how to completely rethink this whole beauty thing! It's amazing how if we just look to the One who created us, we would find the remedy. He's the ultimate fixer : )

Let's see what Jesus says about beauty...

“But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’” – 1 Samuel 16:7

Jesus flat out says that man values outward appearance while He looks at the heart! This shows us that the true mark of beauty is not how you appear physically, but what is pouring out of your heart.

Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with wanting to look physically beautiful! It's awesome to take care of your physical self, the problem is really a heart issue above all. Outer beauty fades with age, or it can be taken away in an instant in an accident or sickness.

Our desire for external beauty should never surpass our desire for inward beauty.

Inward beauty comes from seeking the Lord, prayer, selflessness, kindness, reading the bible, and getting to know Him better.

The world that we live in is constantly telling us that we need to change something about ourselves to become beautiful. We need to lose weight, tone up, get a tan, wear this kind of shirt, do our hair like this...etc. But God says that we should not be conformed by the pattern of this world (Romans 12:2). So to all of those lies, we can speak truth. In Luke 10:19, we see that Jesus has given us all authority over the enemy. There is authority in Jesus' name, we can use it to trample on the lies of the enemy. This is the greatest thing ever! I wish I knew this earlier in life.

The enemy wins anytime that you think you need to lose more weight, spend more time running, buying more clothes, or putting on more makeup. You know the difference between putting yourself together in a joyful way and when you're going above and beyond out of a fear of not being beautiful enough. The enemy wins when you spend more time in the morning beautifying your outward appearance rather than beautifying your inside.

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornments, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” – 1 Peter 3:3-4 

The bible teaches us that inward beauty is true and everlasting. This is such great news because it means that as we age and lose our temporal beauty, we actually can grow more beautiful with time and age. Inward beauty cannot be caked on with foundation or an Instagram filter. Inward beauty is eternal and the more we invest in it, the more beautiful we becomein the eyes of Jesus, and those are the only eyes that matter :)

So, what makes us more inwardly beautiful?

Holiness. God sees our holiness as our beauty. Anything that gets in the way of our holiness (i.e. sin) inhibits our beauty. You become holy by focusing on your inward beauty rather than your outward beauty. Focus on taking an honest look at the sin in your life, and repenting it before your Savior. Take inventory of the lies that the enemy has been telling you over and over. God can take these wounds, heal them, and make them beautiful.

There's nothing more beautiful than a girl who seeks holiness. She glows from the inside out. Joy bubbles out from her in bursts of giggles and genuine security in her identity as loved by Jesus alone. She doesn't waste her time on slander and gossip. She fills her mind up with the truth by reading the bible each day. She seeks those who are cast out and don't fit in and loves them like Jesus would. Her confidence isn't dependent on anyone or anything outside of Jesus. Her eyes are on Him. He makes her beautiful.

"Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed" (Psalms 34:5).

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised" (Proverbs 31:30).

Instead of spending hours in front of the mirror, fix your eyes upon the Lord. I promise that the more you seek Him and ask Him to beautify your heart, the more beautiful you will feel.