What is beauty? What do we see as beauty? Is it the passing man or woman who everyone ogles? Is there beauty in perfection, or is there beauty in imperfection, too? Beautiful things have always held sway over us. The pretty woman at the counter of a coffee shop can get someone to take her order faster then the cripple in the wheel chair behind her. But somehow, I think our idea of beauty is distorted, skewed, contorted.
Think about the following scenario: in line in the coffee shop are two people. One is a pretty brunette who has a vivacious sparkle in her eyes and long legs. All the men in the shop are secretly glancing at her. Directly behind her, sits a man in a wheel chair, his face scarred and his legs missing. Many look at the man and think, "oh that poor man," as they try not to stare. Then they turn back to their drinks and try to ignore or stop thinking about him. His facial appearance revolts many of them. You might do the same. Or maybe you would try to do better then the rest and give him a small, sad smile, trying to convey the fact that you feel sorry for him.
If we were to go up to the man, and awkwardness aside, ask him why he were in that wheelchair with his face scarred and his legs gone, how would your opinion of him change were he to tell you that he'd lost his legs and been badly burned while saving a baby from a burning building?
Ok, stop . . . let's rewind. Before I go on, let's define two words. defines goodness as:
state or quality of being good.
feeling; kindness; generosity.
One note about goodness. I don't believe that man is good. We are inherently evil. Suck it up. Jesus says in both Mark 10:18 and Luke 18:19, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone." We are capable of doing "good" acts (man in the wheelchair), but none of us is completely "good."
Now for love:
When looking up the definition for love, I got very (un)interesting definitions. Everything from "a lustful feeling" to "what most users feel for their computers." (I'd like to beg to differ with the second definition; most of the people I know hate their computers at least once a week.) However, I believe I can come up with a better definition for love then definition of love:
The act of feeling so strongly about something or someone that you are willing to risk bodily injury and even lay your life down for them.
If you disagree with this, I can take my definition to the most important reference: the Bible. In fact, John 15:13 says, "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends." That's a great definition of love.
Because I don't feel that goodness is inherent in the human race and that we can simply do good acts occasionally, I will simply say that love is what I will focus on, most, from here on out.
Now that we've defined goodness and love, and you're asking yourself what I have to say about goodness and love that ties in with beauty, let us go back to the line in the coffee shop. Remember the scarred man in the wheelchair? Remember how he got those scars by saving a baby from a burning building? Take a look at those hideous scars on his face again. A close look. They spell "love." No, not literally, and, at the same time, very literally. That man risked life and limb (literally) to save a baby. "Oh," you say, "Well, that changes how I look at him. What a good, brave, beautiful man." Wait. What did you just say? Did you just associate the word "beautiful" with that scarred man? My point.
Let's look at several other things, a diamond for example. How do those beautiful diamonds that normally sit prettily in an engagement ring get on that engagement ring? It didn't come out of the diamond mine looking like that. It had to be cut, "scarred," to look like that.
How about a pearl? An oyster creates a pearl because of an irritating peace of sand. If the sand gets into the flesh of the oyster, the oyster does what any of us would do. He tries to spit it out. No. Instead, he wraps layer after layer of the same stuff he makes his shell out of around the piece of sand until it's no longer itchy and irritating.
The rose, a symbol of love, wouldn't be as pretty if you didn't know that your loved one had fought through the thorns to bring it to you. Of course, nowadays one can simply go to the florist shop and have the roses de-thorned. What a rip-off.
Gold, in order to be bent and molded into lovely shapes, must be heated, melted and restructured. Believe me, it's not an easy process for the gold.
The most important yet is this: the wounds of Christ would not be nearly as beautiful (yes, I did use that word) nor as meaningful to the Christian, had he not died for the world, selflessly giving his life for ours.
Oh, hmm, that sounds familiar. Let's look back at my definition of love again. Love is a verb. Love is feeling so strongly about or towards someone or something that you are willing to risk bodily harm and even lay your life down—oh! It does sound familiar! Christ loved us so much that he gave his life up for us! Because of that his scars and wounds are beautiful.
Now hear me out very clearly for a moment. Do not think that I am telling you that the only things that are beautiful are those things that are disfigured or scarred, or have some kind of pain associated with them. By no means! Things can be just as beautiful without disfiguration. I simply want you to take a step back and re-evaluate the way you judge what is beautiful. A friend of mine paraphrased my ideas for me when we were kicking this around, and I like how he said it: "'Perfection'—however we define it—is not a right definition of beauty. Very often the marred, scarred, or bent thing is beautiful because of the purposes the 'imperfections' perform." The only thing I would add to that is that it's not just what the "imperfections" perform, but how they came by those "imperfections." If those "imperfections" were bought at the price of love, how beautiful those "imperfections" are.
In the end, I simply want to point out that our vision of beauty can be skewed Take time to look at the "imperfections" in your life and notice how they have made you and the people around you more beautiful. But above all, look to Christ, the most beautiful of all. You fill in the blank. He is the true source of beauty.