For 2014, I suggested wives focus on being happy. I made it a personal goal to choose happiness as well, and despite frustrations, challenges, and some personal heartache, I had an overall happy year.
So what should we wives focus on in 2015?
Well, I attended a concert the Sunday after Christmas with my best friend, and her husband snapped a photo of the two of us beforehand. Later, when we each saw the picture, we praised how the other looked and pointed out flaws on ourselves. Good heavens! We looked fine — dare I say it? even beautiful — yet we were self-critiquing our own appearance.
My BF and I immediately decided that was enough of that, and we need to own our beauty in 2015. No more self-flagellation for perceived faults, but rather acceptance, care-taking, and confidence. And I’m making that same challenge to all of you wives out there: In 2015, we will learn to feel beautiful.
“How can I feel beautiful?” you ask. Let’s talk about how to embrace our beauty.
Speak positive words to ourselves. Self-talk matters. We can get so mad about mean things others say about us when we are often our own worst critics. Think about it: If someone said in person or on Facebook what you say to yourself at times about your own appearance, that would constitute cruel bullying, wouldn’t it? Stop bullying yourself.
Replace negative self-talk with positive words about who you are and who God made you to be. Find three to five things you really like about yourself (your eyes? your smile? your ankles? your “outty” belly button?) and focus on those in the mirror, reminding yourself of this unique beauty. Post or memorize scriptures that remind you of your value, like Psalm 139:14: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” (See also Song of Songs 2:1, Psalm 45:11, Psalm 139:13, Proverbs 31:10, Song of Songs 4:7.) Make it a goal to see yourself as God sees you — a beautiful woman created by Him.
Learn to accept compliments. We women have a terrible tendency to toss off compliments like they’re hot coals in our bare hands. Tell a woman she looks great in that dress? She’ll quite possibly respond: “Only because I’m wearing Spanx underneath” or “You look so much better in your dress.” We dismiss compliments as being mistakes in the eyes of the beholder, a comment of sympathy or courtesy, or a chance to show our “humility” by turning the compliment into self-deprecation.
Why do we do that? Let’s stop sloughing off compliments and learn graciousness instead. In fact, let’s actually believe the compliments. Your friend tells you that dress looks stunning? Stand taller and buy another of the same style. Your co-worker praises your fabulous new hairdo? Smile and say “thanks.” Your husband says you look sexy? Respond with a wink, “You bet I do!” Most people aren’t trying to lie to you about your appearance, so accept their compliments as sincere. We could use that kind of encouragement, if we’ll let ourselves accept it.
Take care of ourselves. It’s very hard to feel beautiful when you’re not taking care of yourself — when you know you’re neglecting your body. And it’s even harder to consistently commit to making the tough choices to care for your health. But we feel better about ourselves when we eat well, exercise regularly, groom properly, and make an effort with our hair, clothes, etc.
Let’s start this year out right by making some promises. Raise your hand and repeat after me: “I will take better care of my body. I will ditch the threadbare yoga pants and t-shirt in favor of just-as-comfortable tailored pants and a knit blouse. I will get a better haircut that can be styled in more ways than sticking a banana clip in my mess of hair. I will stop eating my children’s leftover French fries with the excuse that there are starving children somewhere in the world. I will pass the candy aisle and — if we’re going to be really good, ladies — the wine aisle at the grocery store and make a beeline for the produce section. I will walk, run, jump, or dance my way to a healthier heart and a better waistline. I will take care of this body God has gifted me.” Ouch, I was preaching to my own choir there. Guess I’ll have to move the clothes hanging off my elliptical machine and get busy.
Nurture our inner beauty. Let me tell you a little story. There was this guy at college who was so-so looking. But at one point, several of us girls had a conversation about how handsome he was and how every last one of us would go out with him if he asked. I don’t think this guy had any idea, or he might have been lining his calendar with dates. But the point is he’d gotten better and better looking the longer we knew him, because he was such a fabulous guy. Who he was inside showed through his outer appearance and made him a very attractive man.
And the point of the story is? Inner beauty matters. You’ve known people who got better looking or worse looking as you got to know them. The same is true with you. Indeed, the apostle Peter knew the prettiest woman was one with beauty inside: “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 worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:3-4). Nothing wrong with being pretty on the outside, but your true beauty is about who you are.
It won’t do us any good to focus on outward appearance this year and pay little to no attention to fostering our inner beauty. Regardless of how fabulous we look on the outside, God looks at our heart (1 Samuel 16:7). Consider what character traits you should develop to be more beautiful inside. Is it patience? Gentleness? Hospitality? Joy? Aim to become more beautiful in the things that really matter.
Are you up for joining me in learning to feel beautiful in 2015? What suggestions do you have for achieving this goal?
* * * * *
What does the Bible say about sexual intimacy?
Quite a lot actually. From marriage-specific scriptures to biblical principles, Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage guides Christian wives through weekly devotions that shed light on God’s gift of marital sex.
Each week includes a Bible passage, application, questions, and a prayer. These short devotions will deepen your understanding of God’s design of sexuality and encourage you toward a holier, happier, and hotter marriage.