Monday, April 23, 2012

The Irony of Allure

They say you're never more beautiful than when you're in love...

Yet the seasons where I have been in love have been nothing less than dramatic (in the most negative sense of the word), typically because the love was unrequited (by him) or unwanted (inconvenient for me). In the wake of such heartache, it's always a struggle to pass the mirror without focusing immediately on my flaws. Seeing myself as a sexual person, let alone the object of a man's desire, is the last thing on my mind when it seemed the first thing to be attacked (via rejection). When I feel rejected, my beauty seems distant, even divorced from who I am.

Perhaps that first statement would be more accurate if it read like this:

"You're never more beautiful than when you KNOW you are loved."

The beauty of love comes not just from feeling something for someone else, but in experiencing someone else feeling that something towards you. To be the object of affection; to be singled out as special; to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are desired. As women, few things make us feel more alive.

This is the reason why girls with boyfriends continue to get checked out, asked out...even intensely pursued by other men. Knowing you are loved stirs a confidence within you which can't help but attract others. You walk taller; you smile more freely; you exude joy and peace because you are comfortable in your own skin. Basking in the love of a special someone, it's as though you actually are more physically beautiful because you suddenly believe that you are.

To paraphrase John and Stasi Eldredge in Captivating, a woman's beauty truly shows (interestingly enough) when she is NOT striving to be attractive. Beauty, they say, is unveiled. It is not put on when we dress up or apply more makeup. How beautifully ironic that genuine beauty comes out naturally--through confidence, peacefulness and feeling loved--not through anything we can add to ourselves.

So the coveted "secret" to being beautiful is found not in working hard to become so, but in becoming what you already are.

“What if you have a genuine and captivating beauty that is marred only by your striving?” -Stasi Eldredge

I am both convicted and saddened that I have spent so much of my young life striving to fix my flaws and conjure up false beauty, only to neglect to unveil the beauty already inside me.

In my current state, I can't deny that the greatest temptations I'm fighting at the moment are striving and seduction ("I'll take S-Words for 300, Alex..." A lil nod to all you SNL Celebrity Jeopardy fans). I admit that I am very much struggling with my desire for male attention--the extreme irony of which compelled me to write this post tonight.

It's ironic, you see, because just a few months ago, in the midst of being pursued, I was all too aware that I was always being noticed by other men around me. While I did nothing to invite their looks and advances, the sexual attention seemed a constant companion. I wasn't aiming for eyes to be on me, yet I could sense just how attractive I was to so many men simply because I genuinely felt beautiful. Feeling truly sought after by one special man, I couldn't help but allow the beauty inside me to overflow freely to the whole world...

But that was then. Today, I am plagued by those aforementioned S-words (along with a slew of others...sin, selfishness, spiritual warfare...just to name a few). If I'm completely honest, at present it is a battle to believe I am beautiful. I strive and seduce in attempts to prove my attractiveness, which (incidentally) gets me nowhere because any attractiveness conjured is simply "put on." It is no longer my own beauty...

And when I'm even more honest, I can admit that that extra effort (striving) is only exerted because I am afraid. Afraid that I am not (beautiful) enough. I am convicted to the core, because I know that that fear can mean only one thing: Agape love has not yet been perfected in me. Because if I really knew I was loved, I wouldn't be afraid. The radically perfect love of my Father would destroy those petty fears. Soaking up His unfathomable desire for me, I would be able to surrender all my efforts to gain favor and turn heads. I would be content in knowing who I am. I would freely allow beauty to shine through me without shame. My prayer is that I would come to have deeper faith in that kind of Love.

Lord, help me sense Your relentless pursuit of me. Allow me to see myself the way You see me. Let me live as a woman who knows she is loved...

"For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears..."

-Zephaniah 3:17

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