Two weeks ago I attended the IF:Wilmington women’s conference in my hometown of Wilmington, NC. There were around 800 women that attended with me. It was a beautiful picture of the body of Christ because we were young, old, and middle-aged (me!) as well as black, white, Hispanic and Asian. I was privileged to serve at the conference as a greeter so I was able to speak to many of the women who attended.
Mostly, I noticed the beautiful, young women that came through my doors. They were adorned in their skin tight boyfriend jeans, boots, and infinity scarves. Their hair was long and in ringlets. They carried tiny purses, not full of Kleenex and Bandaids like this mama’s purse. And their faces (and probably their boobs, too) were not sagging.
Women’s conferences make my inner insecurity about my outward appearance flare up like a flame doused with lighter fluid. I notice every area where I am “less than.” I will not be young again. I’m more comfortable in my elastic waist Alfred Dunner grandma pants than I am in skin tight blue jeans. My feet hurt in boots…give me some Easy Spirits instead. And, well, with sag…there is no turning back.
The first evening of the conference I felt defeated and blue and like a middle-aged hag. I want to be trendy. I want to be a fashion plate. I want to be young again. But I just can’t compete with this:
Can you relate? Are you unhappy with your appearance? Are you jiggly where you want to be firm? Is your hair straight and you want it to be curly? Do you want to be a size 8 rather than a 12? Are lines and creases cropping up on your face where you don’t want them? Does sag make you sad?
The second day of the conference God helped me examine my bad attitude of inferiority and consider about what I could change about myself. The slow demise of my middle-aged body is out of my control, but some things are in my control. I can endeavor to develop an inner beauty:
I CAN be intentional about being filled with the Holy Spirit.
I CAN transform my mind by the power of Gods Word.
I CAN demonstrate servant leadership and a life of selfless sacrificial service.
I may not be able to make my appearance youthful and fashionable again, but I CAN make my insides, my inner person, beautiful.
I am reminded of 1 Peter 3:4, which is about not being so concerned about our outer appearance:
….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.
I will be honest, I want to be physically beautiful, but I want this unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit as well. Physical beauty is fleeting, but this inner beauty is eternal. And it is of GREAT WORTH in God’s sight.
As I stood there holding the door, I began to look for the true beauty in each woman who came in. I saw inner beauty, her gifts, her potential, and her value in God’s kingdom rather than her outward appearance. I prayed over her destiny and God’s good plans for her instead of being distracted by her hair and outfit. I spoke words of blessing rather than harboring feelings of jealousy.
I want to see the true, inner beauty of each woman that I meet, rather than notice her outward appearance.
Together, let’s foster this gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. We can’t do much to change our outward beauty, but we CAN do so much to develop an inner, unfading beauty.
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Imagine what women’s conference would be like if we were not so distracted by outer beauty but we could see each other’s inner beauty? What if we laid down comparison and instead choose to bless each other?
I imagine that the door greeters would happier women, with genuine smiles, reflecting their own inner beauty.