My life feels busy—sometimes crazy busy. While homeschooling five kids who are in various activities, it feels like a lot of juggling to make it all work. And although I aspire to have a clean and organized home, the reality is that I am so not there. I can even feel the chaos creeping in—a few more dirty dishes in the sink, a few more books piled on the counter, a few more puzzle pieces left out. Then, if I’m not careful, it’s full on crazy-town house, where there is crusted play dough on the carpet, piles of dirty clothes, and don’t even ask about the kitchen. What happened? Why is it so chaotic? Because kids? Because I’m a bad house keeper? Because my hubby doesn’t pick up the slack?
It’s not really any of that. It’s that my surroundings begin to dictate my feelings, and I have let the chaos in. It enters through my perception of my circumstances. Because the truth really is that even if I had a perfect system and was on top of my schedule and my house was perfectly clean and my kids were actually tiny self-cleaning robots, these things would not guarantee my sanity—and I would not automatically have peace. Because there would always be something else. Because the enemy doesn’t play fair, and even if I had the best hand, he’d throw in the ace he’s hidden up his sleeve. He cheats by whispering: You aren’t good enough. You haven’t cleaned up enough. You are failing miserably, and it is your fault. And nothing could be further from the truth.
Because it’s not an equation. Because a clean house doesn’t equal success whereas a messy house equals failure. Because there are seven of us and we are all still learning how to live together. Because we all need grace Every. Single. Day. Grace says, I refuse to judge you for your sticky floor because I see your heart and know that making pancakes with your toddler says love so much more than a freshly mopped floor. Grace says, yes the space is cluttered but let’s work on this together as a team—without blaming or casting judgment on the sloppiest child (who also may be the most creative). Grace says, in the midst of the chaos—the whirling storm of judgment beating down on your soul—choose peace.
In the gospels, there is an account of Jesus calming a literal storm. Jesus was with his disciples late one night on a boat, and a “furious” storm broke out, where waves were actually crashing into the boat. The storm was so terrible that the disciples thought they were going to die. And in the middle of this awful storm, Jesus was sound asleep. He was at complete peace in the middle of complete chaos. The chaos was around but it was not within. “The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’ He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.” (Mark 4:38-39)
I am reminded of Jesus on that boat when I think about my daily struggles. When I choose to reject those critical voices within, the storm calms and there is peace. Because there will be seasons that things don’t look perfect on the outside. There will be sticky counters and messy projects and piles of laundry. And so the storms will rage. But looking past the outward, going deep within—that is the place to find rest. And this is a reminder to me, to choose peace in the middle of my mess.
Every morning I look into the mirror in my bathroom. I examine myself thoroughly and take pride in my appearance. I make sure that my skin is clear; my smile is bright; and that my hair is in place. I check my clothes to ensure that they are free of stains and wrinkles and that they fit my body perfectly. Before I leave the house, I must be flawless. I must make sure that I look “beautiful.”
However, what is the actual definition of beauty? If you ask 10 people, you may receive 10 different answers. I’ve been told in the simplest form that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It is based upon an opinion and there is no right or wrong answer to the question. Nevertheless, because of social media and the pressures of society, I am realizing a shift has taken place, and so has the standard of what is considered “beautiful.”
Because people spend more time scrolling through their phones on social media, I believe that the media has presented a standard of beauty that is constantly reinforced everyday. For example, beauty is primarily defined by how a person looks on the outside versus their inward characteristics. If we constantly see a viral image of a woman who the media presents to have the “perfect” figure, skin color, eye color, hair length, lip shape, etc., that image then becomes the standard. It becomes what others try to strive to achieve. It becomes the definition of beauty.
People are showing their desperation to measure up to this standard of beauty both literally and figuratively, to the point that they might be willing to starve themselves, empty out their bank accounts for expensive surgeries or even lose their lives. Many have died at the hands of an unlicensed surgeon just to get the perfect shape in order to become beautiful. Nevertheless, when a person knows that they are fearfully and wonderfully made according to Psalm 139:14, and when they understand that the Creator masterfully designed every aspect of their body and called it wonderful, there is no alteration, or shade of makeup that could enhance the beauty that is already present.
So we know what the media deems as beautiful, but how does God define beauty? God is more concerned with the inner man versus the outward appearance. He is more interested in the condition of one’s heart and a person’s temperament than the things that the world considers important. 1 Samuel 16:7 states, “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”. In addition, 1 Peter 3:3-4 states, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great work in God’s sight”. Lastly, Proverbs 31:30 states, “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised”.
Essentially, knowing and also believing God’s definition of beauty and using that as a compass for how we navigate through life is paramount. His thoughts should be in the forefront of our minds and should sculpt the way we define what is beautiful. There is nothing worse than encountering a beautiful person and discovering that person is loud for no reason, nasty, rude, ungrateful and has a horrible disposition. The ugliness of the inward man will always shine forth and prevail over good looks. True beauty is measured from that which lies upon the inside of a person. It can never be fully determined by the outward appearance, but ultimately defined by God.