"If you do not know,
most beautiful of women . . .
How beautiful you are, my darling!
Oh, how beautiful!"
—Song of Solomon 1:8, 15
Maybe I have shared this before, but a lot of those words that hurt us, which we were talking about in the last chapter, are words or thoughts rehearsed in our minds that deal with the way we look. Today, more than ever, some of us are continually bombarded by thoughts of how we fail to look and really feel pretty. We believe we are either: too fat or too thin, too tall or too short, our noses are too long or too wide, our skin is either too white or too dark—the list is endless.
While traveling to different parts of the world, when I arrived in Brazil, I was surprised by what I saw. Brazil appears to be even more obsessed (even more than the U.S.) about women feeling the need to look and feel sexy. Before even leaving the airport, as I was standing, waiting at the luggage carousel, I noticed that I was the only woman who did not have a lot of skin showing. My stomach and cleavage was covered, and my clothes were not really tight nor provocative.
My astonishment continued as my host family drove me through the city to the church where I was invited to speak. I was mesmerized by all the billboards that shouted this trend in their society; there were extremely sexy ads of women everywhere. The craziest aspect of this and what had me dumbfounded was these Brazilian women are simply gorgeous!! So why do they feel the need to show any more than their beautiful faces and lovely figures in whatever clothing made them feel pretty? As I sat puzzled, I remembered seeing a television special that said that South America had the most Miss Universe winners than any other continent, and in one country most girls are sent to schools to teach them how to win the title by grooming them with how they talk, walk, what to wear, etc. It seems that no matter how gorgeous we are, most of us feel inferior; myself included.
So a few weeks later, while flying to another continent, I had plenty of time to talk to the Lord about this. I began by asking Him for a way to explain to women all over the world just how He saw them. What’s interesting is, I was on my way to Africa, where my host family had set up a time for us to go on a safari. And that’s when I really understood just how what He had said meant to me, which I hope to convey to each of you. And I’d like you each to promise to encourage at least one other woman you meet or you know, who needs to know just how beautiful she is, about how He sees her—maybe using this same analogy He shared with me.
What the Lord said is that He sees each of us as endangered and who needs protecting, just like all the endangered animals throughout the world. What He’d explained while on my flight, I then saw firsthand when we were driving through the vast expanse of open land, while on safari. When we stopped in the protected and fenced rest areas, I met people who’d come from all parts of the world for one reason only—just to strain to get a look at even one of these animals. Say, for instance, the gorgeous and majestic giraffe. Yet, while this sweet giraffe is being admired and photographed, the Lord said, to have me imagine herself thinking, “Just look at me. Why does my neck have to be so long? How embarrassing that I have to spread my legs apart just to get a drink of water! And all these brown spots . . . why can’t I have that gorgeous coat like that Miss Leopard over there!”
Then along walks an incredible and highly endangered rhino who says, “I can’t believe I got my mother’s long nose, it’s so embarrassing, and her overly large rear-end too—it’s huge! Why does my skin have to be this dark and leathery, why can’t it be soft like Miss Leopard?”
And there we were, driving hours, doing our best to take pictures of every angle of the rhino, whether it’s her large bottom or hoping to get that snapshot of her side view to show the beautiful length of that nose! We only hope to see a giraffe drinking from a watering hole, with her legs spread due to her long legs and long neck, thrilled if we ever can get close enough to see the long black tongue—taking pictures and pictures to later show everyone we know.
Hopefully, you get the picture.
Our own opinions of how we look is not at all how the Lord looks at any one of us. To Him, as He said, we are all on His endangered list since there are no two of us who are just alike! Our Beloved loves our side view, our hair, our skin shade and texture, even the imperfections we believe we see in our looks. The Lord loves how tall we are or how short. He even likes that extra weight that we’ve put on. Just imagine seeing a skinny animal and how horrified and heartbroken we would be if we saw one.
Since weight seems to be an obsession in most women, if you struggle like most of us, and are currently heavier than you’d like to be, I spoke to Him about that too! Here’s how He assured me that no matter how much I weigh, I’m still beautiful. While I was in Italy, I instantly noticed that the greatest and most famous artists painted and sculpted very large, curvy women! Even their backsides were considered beautiful when quite large and full. Yet here we are playing right into the hands of the enemy who loves to make us feel as if we fall short of being beautiful. By whose standards? Not the Lord’s. And why should we care about our outer beauty anyway when we know that “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:30)? If it’s becoming older that’s troubling you, He even reminded me of 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.” And in the Amplified version it says even more. “Therefore we do not become discouraged [spiritless, disappointed, or afraid]. Though our outer self is [progressively] wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day by day. For our momentary, light distress [this passing trouble] is producing for us an eternal weight of glory [a fullness] beyond all measure [surpassing all comparisons, a transcendent splendor and an endless blessedness]! So we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen; for the things which are visible are temporal [just brief and fleeting], but the things which are invisible are everlasting and imperishable.”
When I shared all of this with the ladies in South Africa, one precious member told me later that the next morning she stood and looked at herself in the mirror and said, she actually liked what she saw. For the first time she was looking through the eyes of her Beloved! A few weeks later I shared it again at a conference in Nairobi, Kenya where women had traveled from many countries all over the continent of Africa. Though I wasn’t there long enough to speak to anyone afterwards, I saw the message transform them when I looked into each of their faces. The Lord had me look around the audience and I could see faces beaming with joy and some women had tears streaming down their faces. All I’d done was ask Him His opinion along with a way to explain it to other women, then made sure I also asked for an opportunity to share what He’d told me, what I had taken the time to ask the Lord to help me do—and dear bride, you can do the same thing too! Take what I’ve shared, if it has touched you, and share it with other women, let them each know how HE sees us. Then continue this each and every time you have a need or hurt or question. Take it to Him, listen to how He explains it to you, then pass this loving message to women after you ask Him to show you who needs to hear it.
Something new I felt I needed to add. In just the last few years another phenomenon has taken me by surprise, which is the trend for women to work out or train to the point of looking as muscular as a young man. In Erin’s Wise Woman book, she taught me about how important it was for celebrating how we were created male and female. Then she explained the danger of how blurring these lines has contributed to homosexuality.
Rather than women wanting to feel and look pretty, I now see that women today strive, instead, to look pretty muscular. Not only does this excessive training with weights and exercises produce well-defined and bulky muscles, which were once reserved for men, but when women train to this extent, it often reduces the breast tissue and can actually stop a woman’s monthly cycle. Is this honoring and celebrating how we were created, female? Would an overly muscular woman be easily viewed as His bride and feel as He intended?
It’s not to say we need to be ashamed if we were created more muscular or masculine, but only if we strive to be more the way the world is changing—to blend the male and female genders. It not only robs you of feeling pretty, the way He sees us, but it is also getting dangerously close to the slippery slope of a society that goes beyond accepting who a person is. It now promotes a way of living contrary to the Abundant Life—enjoying being who we were created to be, a woman, His bride.
How He Sees You
While in Brazil I had one hostess who continually said to me, “Linda, linda, linda” that means “Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.” Precious one, that’s what your Lover, your Heavenly Husband, says each time He looks at you! He just can’t keep His eyes off of you, and His love grows with each glance. There is no need to work out, or change who you are, since you are Linda, His beautiful, bride, “If you do not know, most beautiful of women . . . How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful!” (Song of Solomon 1:8, 15)