Photo by Shawn Jones
The most beautiful thing I’ve ever witnessed is a person living for something greater than themselves. Beauty is born when a person embodies the intentionality and care in which he or she was created. The person who reflects their Creator in action and in speech is like a great masterpiece — displaying their beauty and alignment to their Creator, silently bringing reverence to Him.
When I think of beauty, the image in my mind is not of beauty that is seen with the eye. Rather, beauty is the fulfillment and self-realization of one’s calling, which emanates from within. This radical wholeness comes from a primary place of understanding oneself within the context of trying to understand God.
People spend their lives seeking meaning and purpose. Those who find some taste of meaning rarely stop there, but search for even deeper significance. Those who get a taste of purpose seek it to even greater depth, often through their understanding of God.
This kind of self-awareness combined with awareness of God is the vast color palette that can take the canvas of a soul and illuminate it in a way that makes the light of inward beauty well up and spill out into every action. To live selflessly and sacrificially, completely devoted to loving the people around them, is the greatest representation of beauty a person can uphold.
The Bible emphasizes the importance of inner beauty over external beauty. In the New Living Version, 1 Peter 3:3-4 says, “Do not let your beauty come from the outside. It should not be the way you comb your hair or the wearing of gold or fine clothes. Your beauty should come from the inside. It should come from the heart. This is the kind that lasts. Your beauty should be a gentle and quiet spirit. In God’s sight, this is of great worth and no amount of money can buy it.”
I have met many people who exhibit their inner beauty from all walks of life and religious beliefs. The vast majority of them, however, have been people who seek to emulate the One who many agree was the most loving, selfless, sacrificial being to live on this earth — Jesus Christ.
The beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that the God who invented beauty died to set every person free and restore them to true beauty. What is most beautiful about any imperfect person — no matter how broken — is the freedom to admit to their imperfection and embrace the perfection of God’s grace. The power of redemption replaces our brokenness with peace and joy, turning our faults and imperfections into beauty,
When I think of my own brokenness and the effect of grace in my life, I picture myself as a glass bottle — empty and void of purpose — that was smashed and thrown into the sea. Now, the sea is God’s redemption, and as wave after waves crashes over me, I am being made into new beauty. Tossed and tumbled on the ocean floor, my failures and imperfections were — and still are — being ground free of their sharp edges.
The starting point of my salvation was the throwing of my pieces into the sea. The process of redemption was the early morning tide that washed my pieces up on the shore. The grace that took me and made me new is the act of God collecting my glass pieces, which He would use to create a stained-glass masterpiece.
I am no closer to perfection; there are still pieces of my life being tumbled around on the ocean floor — rough edges still needing to be smoothed. However, the grace of God has already taken my faults and designed a masterpiece by which to make my brokenness beautiful. Though the process is continual for the duration of my time on Earth, I will one day be complete. The plans for perfection that my Creator has for me far outweigh the trials of working through my imperfections in this life.
A life of faith in Jesus Christ is not easy, nor is it necessarily aesthetically pleasing, but the beauty that is manifested in such a life is far beyond what the physical eye can behold. God may have even given us eyes to see the beauty of His Creation, but I believe He gave us souls as spiritual eyes so we could see Him and experience what real beauty is.
There is more to life than what we see. And we have an opportunity to give meaning to what is before our eyes by way of the unseen.
Follow Akela Newman on Twitter: @AkelaRenae