Apologetics: ə-pŏl'ə-jĕt'ĭks from the Greek απоλоγία Def: The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines.

True Beauty Begins With Prayer . . .

Written By Esthermay Bentley-Goossen on 11 November 2008

“To possess true beauty, we must be willing to suffer. . . . if Christ Himself was perfected through His sufferings, why would I believe that God would not do the same with me? Women who are stunningly beautiful are women who have had their hearts enlarged by suffering.”
~ Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul by John and Stasi Eldredge

Have you ever noticed how some women have use their suffering as a way to attract attention to themselves? Have you noticed how some women are just desperate for the rest of us to know all the details of their distress and misery? Have you noticed how they seem to float from person to person -- friend to friend, repeating their story to anyone who will listen? Does it trouble you at all to watch them go habitually from person to person, telling each about all her personal problems and difficulties, relishing every new chance she finds to weigh down someone else with her problems?

Surely you know someone like this.

Maybe you are the one guilty of suffering all over everyone else’s life.

Would you say this woman possesses true beauty?

I'll be honest. I've known a few.
"True" and "Beauty" are not words I'd used to describe them.
"Annoying" and "Troubled:" Yes.

The woman who loads all her troubles onto others and then expects them to do all the praying for her is revealing her own spiritual immaturity -- and her own refusal to accept God's gift of healing and genuine inner beauty.

It’s when we endure and suffer in the presence of God alone – pleading for his patience and grace and mercy -- that we truly join Christ in suffering and see our hearts enlarged. Recall Christ's suffering on the Cross. . . There was no drama or showy expression of suffering. There was no plea for intercession by others. What did happen was that Jesus prayed.

There simply comes a time when talking to people needs to stop and prayer and spiritual maturity must begin:

"Is any among you afflicted? Let [her] pray. . ."
~ James 5:13

Now . . . Let's consider Peter’s words in I Peter 3:3-4:

“Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden [wo]man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of god of great price.”

It is just plain wrong – incorrect – erroneous – dishonest – and a misinterpreting of Scripture to believe that this passage tells us that wearing jewelry or cosmetics is a sin. If you look at this verse in context you will see that Peter was not bothered by women wearing jewelry or cosmetics. Not at all! Instead, he was telling women not to invest all their time in their outward appearance while forgetting to invest time in developing their hearts.

See, the women of the First Century – particularly the upper class Greek and Roman women – were obsessed with their outward appearance. They were flamboyant in their hairstyles, spent vast amounts of money on cosmetics, arrayed themselves in luxurious jewelry and wore extravagant clothes.

Peter was not condemning this. There was nothing wrong with the desire to look nice --
. . . And as a women who LOVES her cosmetics and jewelry, I take great comfort in this!
-- except that it consumed so much time that many women had forgotten completely to adorn their hearts.

Only God, our Creator, can adorn a heart. And only God can change a heart. And this only happens when it is requested in prayer.

In our grief and suffering, HE is with us and changes our heart.
In our anger and frustration, HE is with us and changes our heart.
In our pain and affliction, HE is with us and changes our heart.
In our doubt and uncertainty, HE is with us and changes our heart.
In our prayer and meditation, HE changes us into His likeness and it is only then that we possess true beauty

Do you possess true beauty?

Who do you know that possesses true beauty?

~ Esthermay Bentley-Goossen
© 2008 The Heart of a Pastor's Wife

In Other Words is hosted today by Nina at Mama’s Little Treasures.


Karen said...

Makes me think of what the Bible says about the things done in secret. Without realizing what is going on the perfection of beauty is happening if we allow it. Prayer is a good place to start that's for sure. Thanks.

Barbara said...

Do I know a woman like this!? I WAS a woman like this. Well said. It was not until I was old and starting to wrinkle that I quit bothering everyone around me, took my suffering to Jesus and sincerely prayed. My husband calls me bootiful now (I love boots and jewelry). I'm quite wrinkled now and concealer just doesn't to the trick. I'd never win a beauty contest but I feel bootiful is JESUS. Husband's approval is good too.
Good post, friend!

MiPa said...

Oh, this resonates. I have a dear friend who is as addicted to being a martyr as some are to alcohol and drugs. When I realized that, it changed how I looked at both her and myself in that I needed to not enable her and I needed to not become that needy of telling others my problems. My prayer life definitely changed after that! Thank you for sharing.

Andrea said...

I enjoy reading all these InOtherWords posts. It is interesting how each women takes just a slightly different road. You always make me think. You always make me want to comment. Yes. I know plenty of martyrs. Churches are full of them and you rightly state that nothing will make the suffering turn to beauty but for GOD's grace. Beautifully put.

Ben said...

You beautifully illustrate a major difference in the American Christian and Christians in other cultures especially third world countries. It is sad how Americans can make themselves out to be so afflicted and in effect make themselves anything but beautiful. I never knew true inner beauty until I met the humble, beautiful, and suffering Christians in our missionary work. Prayer is the only way to arrive at this. Pray, American. Pray.
Nice Post.

micey said...

great post! I used to be like this too! Praise God He saved me from myself!

sara said...

Oh Esthermay, this just confirmed something God has been telling me. Thank you for your posts and allowing Him to work through you! You are a blessing!

Kate said...

Amazing post. I guess I don't know Sara, but we're kindred spirits today. You've confirmed for me too some vague feelings I experience lately. THANK YOU.
I like what you say about readers already knowing what you say, that it's in us -BUT it takes discerning teachers like you to help us. Don't sell yourself short! Love ya!

kalopoieo said...

Flawless analysis of spiritual immaturity. True inner beauty from Jesus is rarely found in the individual who hasn't yet learned to shut up, endure and take it to the Lord in prayer. No amount of extravagance can cover the ugliness of immaturity. Well written.

Laurie Ann said...

I'm learning a lot about spiritual maturity in a book I'm reading called Big Girls Don't Whine by Jan Silvious. I used to be the little girl who wore her suffering on her sleeve for the world to see. I announced it with the intention of receiving the attention I thought I needed. Now, I see that prayer is always the best way to start. I do believe there is strength in numbers and I do request prayer when I am suffering, but for the right reasons now. God bless you for a boldly beautiful post, Esthermay! I loved it!

lori said...

I just didn't get to join in today...BUT girl your post was FANTASTIC...Oh, it was sooooo good!

THEN, as I scrolled down, you had to go and do it..POST chocolate chip cookies, warm out of the oven...tempting a girl who is detoxing...:) cruel I tell you...now the question is, can she resist the temptation to head on into the kitchen and whip up a batch...hmmmmmmm

HA, Wyoming huh? We'd be neighbors..and eclectic is the right word, I think:) HA!
You leave the BEST, HANDS DOWN BEST comments..I LAUGH outloud everytime!!

Named Alicia said...

Mmmm...Great thoughts to ponder. I have at times been that annoying friend. I try not to be now. I call it "bleeding all over the place". It does nothing to solve a problem or to really satisfy the soul.

Thank you for the reminder to pray about it. Sometimes our minds can be so clouded by the problems that we overlook this much needed weapon.

And thank you for the wonderful comment you left on my blog. I appreciated it more than you will ever know. It helps to know others are a little further down the journey and that moving on is possible.

I pray you enjoy the rest of your week, my friend. BTW, I love the cartoon about the president...too true & too sad!

Willow said...

Oh. My. Gosh. This is close enough to me to make me wonder if you wrote it about me. No, I KNOW you didn't but do you know what I mean? That's how eye-opening it was. I think that sharing some of one's troubles and the victories through God is good -- it gives testimony to the fact that God works good in the worst circumstances. But there are limits and.... oh boy... I have been guilty of bleeding all over the internet.

Esthermay, I know you didn't write this post about me or aim it at me but it hits home all the same and I can only say THANK YOU. It's something NOBODY would actually say to me and something I NEEDED to hear.

God bless you for always so honestly speaking what's on your heart! You are a truly beautiful instrument in His service!

Barb said...

I knew a woman in church, years ago, who I thought was absolutely beautiful. Whenever I said such to anyone else, they would usually look at me and say, "So and so?" and the proceed to argue with me that she was NOT even pretty, and certainly not beautiful. I know it was the Spirit that beautified this lovely lady and sadly, those who commented against her, looked all the more un-lovely because of THEIR spirit, which made visible deposits in their appearance.

Betsy Markman said...

Ouch. I know I've been that woman at times. Once again, you've hit the bulls-eye!

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