Speaking of Beauty
Posted on July 13th, 2012

I praise you, for I am fearfuly and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my sould knows it very well.   Psalm 139:14

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”   I Samuel 16:7

As a photographer, I often hear people say that they are not photogenic, or simply put, they don’t “take good pictures”. After thinking about it, I have to say that I don’t agree with this statement. I think everyone is photogenic. Sometimes it just takes more effort to bring it to the surface. That is where the skill of a good photographer comes in handy.
However, this is not about plugging the services of your local snap artist (have camera- will travel). It is not even about taking pictures. This week, I have been pondering what makes people believe that they can’t have visually compelling images captured of themselves. What makes them embrace the falsehood that they can’t be appealing to someone else as they are without help from something outside themselves?
What I have decided is that it doesn’t have anything to do with the image appearing on the screen or print. The caricature we see is only a reflection of something deeper. I believe it comes down to how we define beauty in our personal lives.
Is a person valuable because they have beauty or do they have beauty because of their value? Most of the glamour shots and super-model images flashed in front of our eyes in advertising are geared toward making us believe the latter.
They taunt us with the thought that “if only you had these newer clothes or better makeup, then people around you would care more about you” or “if you drove this nicer car, or had that amazing new piece of technology, then you would be a real man”. How often do we as a culture get wrapped up with the obsession of pursuing stuff as status symbols? Do we ever get enough to fill that hole? Or is it just a constant chasing of vanity that will drain of us energy?
Another misperception of beauty is that it is about what that person can do for us. For example, a physically attractive woman is beautiful because she has a nice visual aesthetic. A rich man is handsome because of the clothes he wears or the new car he drives. They seek a chance at a pleasurable stimulus or new fancy toys. The masses flock to such people because of what that person gives them. Politicians and high level business men (or women) are attractive because of the influence they command. If society says they are respected enough to have power, then we must have some worth if they are willing to associate with the likes of us.
I am as guilty of believing these lies as anyone else. I am bothered by the remembrances of my failures and shortcomings. There are times when the scars on my soul make me want to hang my head in shame. The doubt rings through my mind. “How can you be beautiful? You have screwed it up too much. You are damaged too much to ever have any worth.”  Just being honest here… sometimes I don’t even see a portion of the value in me. Sometimes, I think it would be preferable to not be than have to continue as I am and have been.
Maybe that is why I recognize this process in other people. I have seen it at work in my life, so I know the struggles that others must be going through. How can we be so blind? How can we miss the true answer in our pursuit of all the empty ones?
But what other options are out there? Are my daughters doomed to grow up feeling insecure and wondering if someone will ever love them? Does my son have to work his hands to the bone in order to achieve success and preeminence before he matters to the people around him? Is that single mother whose two jobs have worn her body beyond repair to be considered less than whole because she will never be the image she was when she was young and vibrant? What about the homeless man that whose stench is so bad that you have to fight back the vomit just to be near him? The ex-con covered in tats and just wanting a chance to undo the wrongs choices he made in his youth? Does he have a shot at beauty?
Our response to all these queries must be based in the belief that beauty is based in the value of the person. More specifically, the value of human life determines true beauty. In order to answer that, we have to define value in some form. Value is defined by dictionary.com as relative worth, merit, or importance. Kind of like the business concept -what a good or service is worth is whatever someone will pay to bring that object into their life.
From the beginning of time, humans have exacted a heavy price for our being. We found existence because God breathed into us. He took part of Himself and used it to bring us about. We still bear the mark of our Creator. He knit us together before we were ever born. Our souls harbor the fingerprint of God.
That imprint is a reflection of what has been given for us. It perfectly complements the price that was paid to enable a lasting relationship. God sent his Son to lay down His life. He has forever declared we have worth. We are not just pleasure seeking automatons meant to live and die without any other purpose. We were created and then purchased because God declared us valuable.
In addition to the fact that God valued us enough to create us, He considered us extravagant enough to make a way to be near us after we abandoned Him for something else. He has declared us to be worth the trouble even when we could bring nothing of worth back to Him. All we can ever give in return is heartache a trouble. We will never be an investment valuable enough to bring a return for cost that we own. But is that the point? No, we are beautiful because He has stamped us with a price tag of unsurpassed value… the value of a Father’s love for His only Son. We are beautiful because God has said we are precious in His sight.
How often do I miss true beauty? It is right there in front of me and I have no idea that I am wasting my time on things that are hopeless. Hurting people are all around just wanting for anyone to love them. Do they know that they are already loved more than we can fathom?
Do you see it? Can you see people the way God sees us? Am I ok with being me regardless of my abundance or lack? Can I look in the mirror and see who I am instead of what I have done? Do I need some human to declare me loveable before I have the confidence to carry on with life? Are the strangers around us merely interlopers in our search for meaning, or are they fellow works of art? Do you see the beauty of the price paid or only the utility of their proximity?
Well, what do you think? Feel like getting any pictures done?


Posted in not categorized    Tagged with no tags


Leave a Comment

no categories
no tags