“Every experience of beauty points to [eternity].” ~ Hans Urs von Balthasar
Greetings, ladies! Because of some silly computer problems I have been away from writing for far too long! But, all is once again well and, as you see, we have a whopper of a topic to discuss!
Beauty is that which we all long for. It is something that we feel we need and without which we are not as confident in ourselves. When we feel that we are not beautiful we are different, I don’t know about you but when I feel less than lovely I get cranky, self conscious, and start to get a little bitter. Beauty. It seems so illusive and yet we strive after it – relentlessly. It is so essential to us women that there was a poll study done on the topic and a bunch of women were asked “If you could choose to be very smart or very beautiful, which would you choose?” The majority of the women chose beauty over smarts! Why is this? Even in our day and age of “you can have it all, girls!”
The answer is this: Because we were created to be beautiful. “Oh great, thanks, Laura, boy am I missing the mark…” Now hold on, I am not talking about the type of beauty that we see smeared over the covers of magazines at the grocery store. Cosmo, Red Book, Vogue, Seventeen and the like. Those are not advertising beauty. They are advertising lustability – and you don’t want any part of that! Beauty is something MUCH deeper than making yourself noticeable in order to have guys lust after you. Sadly our culture has begun to twist our notion of beauty into something very superficial. It is as if beauty is becoming synonymous with sexy. This is, no doubt, just another one of Satan’s attempts at foiling God’s plan for women (and men). Satan really has a chip on his shoulder about us girls – and he’s had it since Eden. “And I will put enmity between you and the Woman…” Gen 3:15. Since Eve was standing in for all of us ladies at that moment, Satan has had a particular vendetta against women since then. Wouldn’t you know it, it keeps getting thrown back in his face too! I mean, God’s own Son, was …wait for it….born of a WOMAN! But I digress. Back to the present and to the enmity between us and Satan. It’s now a flat out war. He would LOVE for us to beleive that we are not beautiful. Yup thats right. If he can convince us that we are not beautiful and then get us to try to achieve ‘beauty” by cheapening ourselves then he scores a major victory.
Why? Why is the devil so scared of our beauty? The answer is profound – yet simple: because the world needs our beauty, and our beauty tells the world a deep Truth about God.
Take the quote from above, “Every experience of beauty points to Eternity.” You, dear reader, are a sign of and expression of Heaven. In the image and likeness of God, you show the world a glimmer of the beauty God has for us in Eternity. That is powerful!
Just how do I know that women in particular were created to be beautiful? Easy – the Bible. Look at the order of creation. In Genesis you will notice that there is an ascension in the order of creation. I would like you to think of a symphony – I would suggest Shaker Hymn from Appalachian Spring by Aaron Copeland for this little exercise. (here is a link to a YouTube Video – don’t worry it’s just photos of nature – but it has this very piece of music – right click on the link and select ‘open in new window’ so you can minimize it to listen to the music while you read on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiLTwtuBi-o)
(I am now assuming the music is playing for you)
As the movement begins we shall think of the Creation story. “In the beginning the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while might wind swept over the waters. God said let there be light, and there was light. God separated the light from the darkness. He called the light Day and the darkness Night. Evening came and morning followed. The first day.
“Then God said let there be a dome in the middle of the waters to separate one body of water from the other. And so it happened. God called the dome the sky, evening came and morning followed. The second day. (pause here and let the melody finish…it will begin again)
As the melody again begins, the music builds in on itself, becoming richer and fuller Then God said let the water under the sky be gathered into a single basin so that dry land may appear. And so it happened. God called the dry land the earth and the basin of water, He called the sea. God saw how good it was. Then God said let the earth bring forth vegetation. Every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree that bears fruit within its seed. And so it happened. God saw how good it was. Evening came and morning followed – the third day.
As the music continue to build we find ourselves ascending the order of creation, “The God said let there be lights in the sky, to separate day from night. Let them mark the fixed times, the days and the years and serve as luminaries to shed light upon the earth. And so it happened. God made one light to govern the day and the other to govern the night, and He made the stars. Evening came and morning followed. The Fourth Day. (pause here and wait for the melody to once again begin to repeat).
The melody begins to repeat, with the rich sound of deep stringed instruments As the melody gains momentum and becomes even deeper we encounter the creation of fish and animals, ” Then God said, let the water team with an abundance of living creatures, and on the earth let birds fly beneath the dome of the sky. And so it happened. God created the great sea monsters and all kinds of swimming creatures with which the water teams, and all kinds of winged birds. God saw how good it was and He blessed them saying , Be fertile and multiply, and fill the water of the seas and let the birds multiply on the earth. Evening came and morning followed. The fifth day.
Then God said let the earth bring forth all kinds of living creatures; cattle, creeping things, and wild animals of all kinds. And so it happened. God made all kinds of wild animals and all kinds of cattle and all kinds of creeping things of the earth. God saw how good it was. (as before, pause here and wait for the melody to once again begin anew)
Now we hear the melody begin with a distinctly faster tempo ….something different is about to happen – something greater than all the other creations….. Then God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth. God also said, see I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth and every tree that has seed bearing fruit on it to be your food; and to all the animals of the land and the birds of the air and all the living creatures that crawl the ground I give all the green plants for food. And so it happened. The Lord God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being. God took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden to cultivate and care for it.
Now pause as the melody finishes its repeat. The tempo slows. It has not yet repeated and the music is soft and light….expectant…
Then God said, It is not good for man to be alone..I will make a suitable partner for him….so the Lord put a deep sleep on the man and while he was asleep he took out one of his ribs and from the rib, the Lord built up and created…..
The music begins to suggest that it is going to crescendo. The softness becomes pregnant with the impending surge of music as all the instruments join together. Then….crescendo! One powerful hit and the melody begins with force and strength – it is the culmination of the masterpiece….
Woman! When he brought her to the Man, the man said, “This one at last….shall be called woman…” (Gen 2)
My dear reader, YOU are the crescendo of creation! You are the crown on the masterpiece of God’s created order! Just as our symphony became more and more beautiful and more complex, more perfect, with each repeat of the melody, creation became more and more complex, more and more beautiful until it reaches it crescendo, not just in the creation of man, but in the creation of the one taken and created from “Her Man” – the woman. This ascension of the created order is not recorded in Genesis by chance. It is truly meant to show us the ascension of creation – inspired by the Holy Spirit, Himself, the author of Genesis was communicating that we, women, are in a special way the crowning glory of God’s creations. Why is this? Because we show the world God’s Beauty.
I would like to take a minute to mention something here about the “equal dignity of man and woman.” Our musical exercise is not meant to suggest that women are better than men. Men and women are created with absolute equal dignity and worth. Neither one has more valuethan the other. This is evidenced by the fact that there are two accounts of the creation of man and woman. In the first it is mentioned that “God created man, in His own image and likeness…Male and female He created them…” This reveals to us that men and women, in the created order, are equally valuable in God’s eyes. Neither is better or more important to God. At the same time however, the Holy Spirit inspired the author of Genesis to differentiate the creation of people. This is where the order of creation gets more specific, with women being the ultimate culmination. Why? Because as men and women were BOTH created in God’s image and likeness, we can assume that they each tell us something about God, Himself. Man, many Bible scholars agree, shows us God’s strength. His might. His raw handsomeness. Think of typically ‘masculine’ traits (active initiator, protector, defender…) and it is these things which man reveals to us about God. God is an initiator. He is protective and will fight for us. The creation of woman is not an ‘afterthought’ as it is interpreted sometimes. Nor did God “get it wrong” with Adam and try again with Eve. God does not make mistakes. His creation, and the order in which it happened is deliberate. God reveals to us more of Himself in the creation of woman. He wants to show us that there is another, even more profound characteristic of His, one not embodied by the male – and that is His beauty. That, my friends, is you. The embodiment of God’s beauty, created to reveal it to the world. By creating women last God is unveiling to us the fact that we NEED beauty. His beauty. It is vital and important to our understanding of God, and consequently to our understanding of ourselves.
This is why men long for beauty. That is why we women yearn to be beautiful. Beauty is powerful. It is so important , it is at the very pinnacle of Creation, embodied by woman. If man is the Crown of God’s creation, than you, woman – Beauty are the glittering diamond on that Crown.
Overwhelmed? Doubtful? Nevertheless, the Truth remains. You, dear woman, are beautiful. You were created to be so. You are indeed the jewel on the Crown of Creation. This is why your beauty is so fiercely attacked. It is also why we must not be afraid to show the world our beauty.
But what is beauty? What is it exactly that the world needs me to share? How do I know if I am indeed beautiful? And why is it so important?
These are important questions. They need answering if we are to truly share our amazing gift of beauty with the world. That is why dear woman, I must leave you hanging (my apologies!) and take up the answering of those questions in part two, which I promise shall be posted before Sunday – the day God rested after creating His masterpiece – You!