How I Changed My Definition of Beauty and Learned to Love My Wrinkles
Standing in front of the mirror after my twins were born, the six months of sleepless nights were written in the crevices of my eyes and the sullen appearance of my skin. Motherhood was taking it’s toll on me — mentally, physically and now in the form of some brand new wrinkles on my face.
As I was fretting over my aging, my husband walked into the bathroom, kissed me on the cheek and declared, “You are beautiful.” I glared at him because I knew what I was staring at was not my definition of beauty.
I could visibly see the effects of motherhood manifesting right before me, and I was appalled at how quickly the lack of sleep could take its toll. I pulled out the creams and dabbed them around my eyes, rubbed the moisturizer into my face, and let out a gasp of frustration as I realized the unavoidable fact that I was going to age, no matter how many miracle lotions I applied.
And apparently I would age much more quickly as a new mother. While I agonized over my outward beauty, I pondered my husband’s declaration and wondered what it was that he saw that I could not.
Maybe my definition of beauty needed to change. Maybe my husband wasn’t the mistaken one. Maybe there was something he saw that was not properly reflected in the mirror in front of me.
Our society is obsessed with beauty in the physical sense. You cannot even check out at the grocery store without your eyes being assaulted with our culture’s definition of beauty. It’s obvious that outward appearance is the primary — if not only — form that is valued.
And the standards are strictly different for men than women. I spoke to a news anchor friend of mine about the rigors of entering the competitive field of reporting. For men, they are measured by whether or not they appear trustworthy, where wrinkles can help you. But for women, they are rated by how they measure-up physically, where wrinkles are the enemy.
It was now clear to me that my definition of beauty was shaped more by what the world declared than what God has instructed.
Proverbs 31:30 (HCSB)
Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting,
but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised.
When Scripture talks about a woman’s beauty, the value is placed on the opposite of the world’s standards. Here in Proverbs, the fear of the Lord is what a woman should be praised for, not her outward beauty that is fading away.
In 1 Peter 3:3-4 (HCSB), Peter says, “Your beauty should not consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold ornaments or fine clothes. Instead, it should consist of what is inside the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very valuable in God’s eyes.” He tells women that it is our inward heart and spirit that reflect beauty, not the outward, physical appearance. It’s what’s inside of us that God values. If God is concerned with inner beauty, then maybe I should be directing my attention there as well.
In Romans 10:15, Paul reinforces this concept saying that those who share the good news of Christ are considered beautiful. Loving others, caring for others, becoming more and more like Christ, and being able to share my faith through a life lived for Him is what is beautiful to the Lord. The things of the Spirit are greater in beauty then the things of this world. A woman who allows the Spirit of God to transform her from the inside out and chooses to live by His Spirit is how God defines beauty.
Galatians 5:22–23 (HCSB)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.
During those first six months of motherhood, I may not have slept, but other qualities were developed within me. I learned patience and self-control while my twins adjusted to their new world. I became more selfless than I ever knew possible. Every action I took was driven by love for those two little babies that were entrusted to my care. I had to be gentle and kind to them, even if my tired emotions told me otherwise. The transition into motherhood was hard. All of this did not just come naturally to me, and I messed-up countless times. But by six months of motherhood, these qualities within me were maturing dramatically.
By God’s standards, my beauty was increasing. Maybe I had some new wrinkles, but internally, God was at work. He was perfecting my character and making me more beautiful than I was before I entered this phase of life.
My husband must have seen it. He knew. And it was time that I stopped worrying about the things that fade away, and focused on the eternal things of God. If the sacrifice of sleep allowed me to care for my newborn children and let God transform me from the inside out, then every new wrinkle that came was worth it.
And while I’ll still use my eye cream and moisturizer, what I see reflected in that mirror isn’t how I define myself. It’s how much my heart reflects the Word of God that will remain my standard for true beauty.