Turning the Page

True Beauty Is Under The Tarnish

January 30, 2020

Many women don’t think they are beautiful.  A tarnish is over their soul. But underneath, there is a beauty that can change a world, a delight that needs to be listened for and affirmed.

There was a beauty there, and I wanted to affirm it. I could see it in the way she moved, the energy and thoughtfulness she placed into her intent. It was beautiful but tarnished.

When I said she was beautiful, it was dismissed immediately. Her tarnished thoughts had crowded in and screamed comparisonitis memes. Comparisons to Instagram models and airbrushed movie stars. The women in the clothes catalogs alway with the beautiful skin.

Fat
Wrinkles
Hips
Stomach
Hair
Bags

Tarnished beauty

Have you ever noticed that on metal objects, a thin film or layer builds up on the outside. It’s a tarnish, which is a thin layer of corrosion that forms over the surface. The outermost layer is undergoing a chemical reaction.

Given enough time and the layers build up. The brightness and the ability of the metal to reflect is lost under layers of oxidation.

Did you notice the word ‘corrosion’? It eats away at the internal, creates a crust, hides the glory of what’s underneath.

To reveal the true and deep beauty of a tarnished object, those layers need to removed. Out comes some polish, something slightly abrasive and liquid.

Then with gentle but firm pressure, a rhythm is formed of working the polish over the tarnish and wiping the accumulated corrosion away.

Underneath the beauty is there. Shinning and a delight to the eyes. Alluring and dragging you in to know it more.

There is nothing more beautiful than a woman fully alive. Living without the tarnish of others oxidizing corrosive norms.

Was Mother Teresa beautiful?

And certain women

We don’t have an exact number of how many women were amongst Jesus followers, but we do know that there were quite a few.

The Twelve were with him. There were also some women in their company who had been healed of various evil afflictions and illnesses: Mary, the one called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out; Joanna, wife of Chuza, Herod’s manager; and Susanna—along with many others who used their considerable means to provide for the company. Luke 8:1-3

In such a patriarchal male-dominated society, why were so many women magnetized by Jesus?

Jesus was a safe man, and women are drawn to safe men.

True men know real beauty is something more mysterious and alluring than anything of what a movie star can cosmetically enhance.

Beauty is a movement of the soul, and we notice it when we observe well.

Beauty is something to be discovered

That sunrise was beautiful, but you have to get up early in the morning to see it.

The bird song was beautiful, but you have to still yourself long enough to hear it.

The smell of a beautiful rose is divine, but you have to stop and stoop to catch the scent.

True beauty isn’t hand-delivered to you on a plate; it must be sought out to be experienced.

The wonder of women

Physical beauty, the tarnished perceptions, is fleeting, according to Proverbs 31:30. But there seems to be a beauty that sparkles brighter than a bunch of diamonds.

The writer of Proverbs 31, possibly a woman (King Lemuel’s Mother),  describes a beautiful woman in the categories of how she cares for her family, her creativity, industriousness, business wisdom, and generosity. She has an inner strength and dignity and gives respect to her husband and the way he moves into his world. 

I know many women like this wonder women. I don’t think they would consider themselves beautiful, because of the tarnish, but they are truly beautiful.

Affirming the beauty

I want to tell more women that they are beautiful, but I fear it will be misconstrued. People might well jump to conclusions that aren’t true. The words get filtered through the tarnish.

I tell my wife, daughter, and granddaughter that they are beautiful, but even then, the tarnish might dull the impact of the words.

I see beauty, it warms my heart, and I want to move towards and affirm it, so I might well say ‘that is a beautiful thing you do.’

It doesn’t speak to the wholeness of the beauty of who they are, but it might just cut through some of the tarnish.

Affirming the sunrise, the bird-song, and the waft of beauty is a gift we can give to others. It takes intention, courage, wisdom, and observation.

It’s a practice we need to become skilled at intuitively.

Quotes to consider

  • Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so too is experience in the soul of the individual. David G. Benner
  • Remain in beauty, and we will honor beauty everywhere. Richard Rohr
  • People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
  • When inspiration touches talent, she gives birth to truth and beauty. Steven Pressfield
  • Dying people can teach us … Often the attributes that define them drop away—the hair, the shape, the skills, the cleverness. And then it turns out that the packaging is not who that person has really been all along. Without the package, another sort of beauty shines through. Anne Lamott

Questions to answer

  1. What is beauty?
  2. What is the corrosive effect on a woman’s soul from the ‘beautiful people’ images and models?
  3. How can a man affirm beauty in a woman without coming across the wrong way?

Further reading

Barry Pearman

Image:David Pisnoy

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