“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.” 1 Peter 1:3
I didn’t want to be the hypochondriac old lady. No way. She was the punchline of the joke. She was held on the fringe of society. She wasn’t pretty or gifted or anything else of value. No, I didn’t want to be her because she wasn’t perfect. And I desperately wanted to be perfect.
I was in high school when our church youth group performed a play for the congregation. The setting of the play was a waiting room just outside the pearly gates. The characters were anxious to find out if they made it into heaven and were discussing their qualifications. I was assigned the role of a clumsy old woman, dressed in an ancient floral robe with curlers in her snarled gray hair. She carried an assortment of medications that tumbled out of an overstuffed bag and rolled across the floor whenever she leaned over. The rattle of Tums and Tylenol echoed throughout the auditorium with every move she made. She was the comic relief in an otherwise serious situation. I cried in disappointment when the cast was announced after tryouts.
My older sister, on the other hand, was overjoyed when she was given the part of the beautiful receptionist. In rehearsals, her hair and makeup were flawless, and she was angelic in her flowing white gown. She was kind, graceful, gentle, and hospitable. Everyone loved her. Everyone, that is, except me. I hated her.
Not my sister, of course, but the part she played. I wanted to be her. I wanted to be the beautiful one. I wanted to be loved and admired. I didn’t want to be old and ugly and clumsy. I didn’t want everyone laughing at me. My fragile self-esteem simply couldn’t handle it. So I threw a fit. I whined and cried until I was reassigned to the coveted role. Oh, boy! My moment in the sun had arrived and I’d finally outshine my big sister!
Opening night. Raise the curtain and cue the lights. All eyes on me. A deep breath in, and…I am suddenly overcome with nerves. Words wouldn’t have escaped my dry lips even if I could have remembered my lines. My heel caught in the hem of my gown causing me to stumble. I fumbled with props, caused feedback with the mic, and spilled a glass of water. All in Scene 1. Welcome to Show Biz.
Now, my sister. Well, she embraced the role of the old hypochondriac like she was up for an Oscar. She was funny and entertaining and had the whole place in stitches. People talked about her performance for weeks. She was the belle of the ball, admired and praised. If I had kept that role, no doubt I would have been the star. Envy brought out the beast in me, and it wasn’t pretty.
Of course the real issue wasn’t the character I portrayed. The problem was I could not accept myself for who I was. I thought my value was based on appearance and performance, and I didn’t measure up. This is one of Satan’s greatest lies, however, that we are not worthy unless we are perfect by the world’s standards. The lie holds us back from seeing the beauty in our uniqueness and the joy in our quirkiness. It blinds us to the vision God has for our lives. As we strive for unattainable perfection, we lose ourselves in the land of pretend, and we become ineffective along the way.
In contrast, truth is found in God’s Word. 1 Peter 1:3 says, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
If I had only believed God’s truth in my younger days, it would have saved a lot of heartache. Time spent wishing I was someone else could have been spent developing my own character based on what God sees as beautiful. There is nothing wrong with physical beauty; it is important we take care of ourselves. But if our ultimate goal is to be worshiped and admired, we need to tame that beast and put the spotlight back where it belongs. We are the supporting cast; the true star of the show is, and always has been, Jesus Christ.