In "Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul" by John and Stasi Eldredge, they talk about the three things a woman's heart craves:
1) To be romanced,
2) To be an indispensable part of a shared adventure,
3) To be a beauty unveiled.
While reading the section on beauty, I thought about my own perception of beauty and wondered whether it's really all that important to me. My mind went back to childhood. I remember my father asking me, "Would you rather be the prettiest girl in the class or the smartest girl in the class?" I always answered "the smartest." My father seemed pleased with that. He valued my mind, my heart, my creativity, and my dreams. He asked my opinion and listened – really listened without seeming to have an agenda about what opinion I should or shouldn't have. He defined beauty by what was inside me instead of what I looked like on the outside.
As I grew up, I was like all young women, though. I craved to know I was attractive, that I was beautiful even on the outside. Of all the compliments my husband pays me, "you are beautiful" is the most common. Over the years, he has convinced me that -- yes, I am a bit prettier than an old bowling shoe. I have come to believe I'm pretty on the outside. But still whenever he says it, in the back of my mind, I think, "Yes, but you won't think that when I'm old, wrinkled and ugly. Then, why will you love me?"
As I pondered this, I realized that the beauty I want unveiled isn't just my outer beauty, but my inner beauty as well. That's what I want to share with the world. That's what I crave for my husband to know, appreciate, understand ... and acknowledge. When he tells me I'm beautiful, my heart screams, "Yes, but do you see ME? The real me, beneath the skin?"
After coming to this realization, my mother's face came to mind. My mother was a stunning beauty in her youth. One day she was walking down the street in Chattanooga and a man strode up to her and broke out in song, "Tall and tan and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes walking…" She was incredible. The thing is, she's even more incredible today. Every time I see her I'm stunned at how much more beautiful she becomes. Silver haired and in her 70's, it's not the shapely figure or long tanned legs I see. It's the beauty of her soul radiating from her eyes and in her countenance that captivates me.
I remember watching the old movie, The Sins of Dorian Gray. It was about a man who never aged. He always looked young and attractive, but lurking in his closet was a portrait of himself that aged. Not only that, but his sins and misdeeds were reflected in the painting as well. The more depraved he became, the more hideous the painting became. While it never reflected on his face, the portrait became a monstrous revelation of his gross depravity.
Jesus said, "The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness." (Luke 11:34)
I believe light and darkness is quite literally reflected in our countenances – especially over time. My prayer is that one day my inner soul will be so full of light that it cannot help but be reflected in my countenance. Then, like my mother, it won't matter what the years do to my body, beauty will always be reflected in my eyes.