‘She is clothed in fine linen and purple …’ Prov. 31:22
I recently had a request by a homeless woman in our Sunday school class who is going back to school. In a hushed tone, she asked for things like nail polish remover, deodorant powder, a loofah and jewelry. “You know,” she said. “The stuff that makes you feel like a woman.”
That tore at my heart in a big way.
Here I am this extremely spoiled woman who has access DAILY to showers, any kind of soap, shampoo, makeup, perfume, jewelry and clothing that I want (within reason of course), and I am reminded once again that so many women don’t have this.
In fact, worldwide, THE MAJORITY of women don’t have this.
For the most part, the women of the world are too busy worrying about basic survival to be allowed the luxury of pampering themselves, attaining those things that draw out their femininity and make make them FEEL like women. Beautiful. Priceless. Adored and adorable. Treasures.
Some of my absolutely favorite gifts have been beauty and jewelry items. Because they make me feel loved. And prized. And precious. And beautiful.
Now I get it. The Bible tells us not to trust in or focus on outward beauty. That true beauty comes from the inside out. I know that.
But I also know that a woman who lives on the streets in my city or in a mud hut or tent in an African village has a very difficult time feeling beautiful when she has not been able to change her clothes or wash her face all week, much less worry about extras like makeup, fingernail polish, jewelry and perfume.
I also know that GOD himself appreciates beauty in the form of adornment. Look at the old testament holy of holies described intricately in Exodus. Precious gold and silver covering, well, everything! Fine linens of blue and purple for curtains – with cherubs woven in by skilled workers, not just anyone. Gold clasps. Acacia wood. Nothing but the best for the place where our GOD would dwell.
Look at the parallels, friends!
We are told in the new testament that because of Christ’s death on the cross, there isn’t just one place we can go to meet with our God. He lives in US. We are His temples now. Our bodies are the temples.
So when the Bible talks about beauty coming from within us, God isn’t prohibiting us from having or wearing beautiful things or shaming us for it. He’s telling us that the beauty that matters most to Him is what’s within us. That no jewelry, no hairstyle can compete with a heart that loves Him.
But He also makes it clear that the temple – His temple – ought to be beautiful.
And that tells me it’s okay.
It’s okay to want those things as women. It doesn’t make us vain. We don’t have to speak about such things in hushed tones. We don’t have to be embarrassed or ashamed that we want these things. That we long for these things.
Just look at the descriptions of heaven, where our God lives and wants us to live with Him. Streets of gold. Gates of pearls. Foundations of precious stones – amethyst, sapphire, emerald. He LOVES beautiful things.
Our much-loved, sought after Proverbs 31 woman is clothed in fine linen – purple linen. Sound familiar?
She is also clothed in strength and dignity.
Because she is cared for. Taken care of. Self-care is a priority. She feels beautiful.
A whole combination of things are happening here.
I’m reminded of the line in Fireproof when Michael tells Caleb, “A woman’s like a rose. If you treat her right, she’ll bloom. If you don’t, she’ll wilt.”
God wants His girls to BLOOM! We need to bloom.
And God loves beauty.
As women our femininity comes from Him. If we are made in His image and likeness, where else could it come from? If we love beautiful things, it’s because He loves beautiful things.
Back to my homeless class, when others overheard my friend telling me about the things her heart was longing for to feel like a woman, they chimed in. ‘Could you find me a bag with some makeup in it? Something from the dollar store is all I need.’ ‘Could you find me some underwear?’ ‘Do you have any bras?’ ‘All my clothes were ruined by bedbugs. Can you help me?’
These simple requests speak to the very heart of us as women.
And when I was able to go through my stuff and pick out out items for each woman based on her specific needs and requests, I asked God to tell me exactly what each one needed most, show me what to give. At the dollar store, I asked what would be the most meaningful, useful and impactful.
And when I handed them their bags of goodies – clothes, underwear, hygiene, beauty, jewelry .. their gratitude, joy and giddiness spread across their faces. A weight had been lifted in that moment.
Watching these ladies smile over what they got was absolutely … beautiful.
Seeing them immediately put in their earrings and put on bracelets and necklaces and even go straight to the bathroom to change into clean clothes and underwear – it was affirmation that these women need to feel like women.
They need to feel beautiful.
And that gives them hope.
“You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.” Song of Solomon 4:7
“Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.” Psalm 45:11
“The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.” Revelation 21 18-21