I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. ... Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
~John 15 1-4
Pick up a magazine, turn on the television, or watch a movie and you will soon see that the world has certain views on what is beautiful. We are berrated by skinny models, short skirts, and perfectly airbrushed faces and bodies, none of which seem the least bit attainable to the average woman. Beauty is elusive, subjective, and in the eye of the beholder. It's hard to define, and even harder to attain.
In my quiet time I've been searching desperately for God's definition of a woman's beauty. It didn't take me long to start researching the Hebrew words for beauty.
Recently I came across an article about the word "hadar".
Like all abstract theories in Judaism which ultimately find their expression in concrete mitzvot, the idea of beauty, as well, finds a tangible realization in the central mitzvot of the holiday of Sukkot. The Torah requires: "And you shall take unto yourselves on the first day (of Sukkot) a fruit of a beautiful tree -- pri etz hadar." The Talmud (Sukkot 35a) wishes to define what constitutes a beautiful tree by analyzing the Hebrew word for beautiful, hadar. The sages conclude that it is the etrog tree, because the word "hadar" is interpreted to be a fruit which "dwells continuously all year on the tree" (ha-dar, literally, "that which dwells").
So then, the word hadar, like many Jewish words is a word picture. The picture painted is of one that dwells continuously on a tree. It's hard to miss the glaring similarity of the meaning of the word "hadar" and what Jesus tells us in the above passage.
Right there in John 15, Jesus tells us how to be beautiful. It's simple; Remain in Me. By remaining in Him, by remaining in a relationship that is thriving we give Him permission to continually work on our hearts. Like a grain of sand that is continually buffed into a sparkling pearl, or a piece of coal that is compressed and refined into a diamond, we are continually groomed and fashioned.
True Beauty has nothing to do with our outer looks. Time has a way of taking those away sooner or later. Beauty has everything to do with a heart that is continually being refined. Beauty is the willingness to submit all our "icky" parts to Him.
This doesn't mean that we cannot be concerned with how we present ourselves. What it does mean is that our "beauty" no longer rides on what we wear or how we dress. Freed from the bondage of continually trying to measure up, that's where we'll become vulnerable, free, and most importantly captivating beautiful.
*Above photo by Duchess Photography & Design. www.duchessphotodesign.com