Beauty and Strength

Something that’s difficult for most women is realizing that we can’t hold onto physical beauty as we age. It hit me in my mid-forties. One day I passed by a large window, caught a glimpse of myself and thought, “Who is that old woman?”

Inside I still see myself as I looked in my twenties and thirties. Most of the time what I view in the mirror is contrary to the image in my head. But I’ve not looked young for a long time now.

As I lamented the passing of my youth I talked with the Lord about it. I asked Him why we had to get old, why we had to lose our beauty (which the world values so highly), and why we had to get feeble physically. It just seemed so wrong that we have to spend most of our adult years unable to do all those things we used to do when we were young.

It was as if the Lord said to me, “If I let you stay beautiful on the outside, you would never become beautiful on the inside.”

That was a real eye-opener for me. When women have beauty, that’s what we focus on. When we don’t have it, well, we have to look at who we really are.

I remember seeing magazine articles years ago on what the editor thought was beauty at many ages. The women in their fifties, sixties and seventies had such lovely smile lines around their eyes. They had a gentleness that lived in their faces. They looked gracious.

As soon as I saw them, I said, “I want that. Whatever it is that they have, I want that.”

Now I understand it as the thing the Lord showed me about inward beauty, spiritual beauty. That is the beauty that will carry over into eternity.

It’s the same concept with men. Proverbs 20:29 says, “The glory of young men is their strength.” Young men can do anything. They are capable, agile, fast, incredibly strong and have great endurance. That is what they glory in, like we glory in our beauty.

And like us, if the Lord let them stay strong on the outside, they would not become strong on the inside. They would not become the great spiritual warriors and leaders that He intends for them to be.

I remember when Julie and I would laugh about my not being able to read anything without holding it four feet away from me. She would show me something and hold it close to my face. I’d back way up.

She’d say, “Do you want me to hold it down the street?”

“You’ll get old too one day,” I’d say.

She would shake her head and laugh, “Don’t say that. I will not.”

Little did I know she was right. She did not get old and that’s the way I will always remember her – eternally young.

But I saw the Lord working on her inner beauty before she died. She had a gentleness and a steady peace that she’d never had before. She was gracious and she was completely lovely inside and out.

It comforts me to know that our Heavenly Father had given Julie inner beauty even in her brief lifetime. Time is irrelevant to Him. He is able to accomplish His purpose in any life, for all things are possible with Him.

Phyllis Keels

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