Beauty and God’s word

Today we are discussing woman’s beauty in our weekly women cycle of life (WCL) training. WCL utilizes a highly participatory teaching method to train women in the community about health. Health is defined as a holistic well being of a woman, spiritual, physical, emotional, social and economical. Lessons take this form;

1. We begin with a discussion about realities related to the topic of the day. For example, inĀ  topic like today’s we first discuss the cultural views of outer and inner beauty, how our communities define beauty and what we think beauty is.

2. Secondly, we delve into a discussion on our own experiences in relation to the topic of discussion. For example we discuss about what we feel about our beauty, or what people have said about us, or what it feels to be told you are not beautiful based on someone’s standards, or how you have branded others based on your views on what beauty is.

3. Having provoked the contextual realities and personal views we now read some suggested passages from the bible. At this point we discuss the biblical view on the topic. For example, what does the bible say about outer and inner beauty? what does it say about our views about beauty? how does God view us? Today we read Proverbs 31:10-31 and 1 Thessalonians 2:4

It was interesting to hear many versions of how our cultures and community defines beauty; Long hair, lighter colored face, tall, short, plump, thin, talkative, shy, jewelry, clean, short etc. The tricky bit about all these definitions as we discovered through the heated debate was that it is difficult to meet all standards all the time. You cannot be beautiful to everyone all the time. Pursuit of beauty as prescribed by the society would be like chasing the wind or running a race where the goalpost keeps shifting. We agreed we would need to appreciate the gift of our bodies by keeping it clean and tidy. This body after all is the temple of the lord, it is a beautiful vessel for God’s purposes. African woman’s hair is usually woolen, wavy and tough to comb, it is a bit difficult to keep it straight (again, who said straight is more beautiful) hence the prevailing hair care culture involves wearing straight synthetic weaves and wigs. Long braids and chemically relaxed hair is also common. Only one woman in the group today had her natural knotted hair. All the rest had braids or weaves! I had my big afro weave see below;

Beauty and Gods Sord :: Global Bag Project :: African Bags

Mary O's afro weave

The pressure of what the society expects from us can be overwhelming and also intimidating. Paul’s letter to Thessalonians (2:4) reminds us to seek to please God. He may have faced social pressures based on what the community may have expected him to be or look like or behave but he said, ‘on the contrary, we speak as those approved to be entrusted with the Gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.’

Whether we are short or tall, slim or plumb, light or dark, short or long haired we need not look down upon ourselves. Our pursuit should be for inner beauty. The values of love, compassion, hospitality, courage and hard work. Proverbs 31 woman is a shinning example (although intimidating) we can emulate.

Today I asked God to work on my patience, I am getting a bit uglier on that part.

Please Lord, adorn me with inner beauty

Get the ugly spots off before I begin to stink

Amen

By Mary O.