As I’m writing this, I am watching you in the corner of my eye, eating blueberries. You look at me in between stuffing your mouth with a chubby handful and you laugh with great delight. I want you to stay this way forever—one and a half years old, toddling around, fearless, determined to discover everything you can about the world, confident that you are safe because of our love, and appreciative of all the sweet things God has created for us to enjoy. But I know that time will pass and things may change.
Before you were born, your father and I chose not to learn your gender. We knew we’d love you and raise you with the same values and opportunities—boy or girl. When the doctor announced that you were a girl, we were overjoyed. In some countries, having a girl is not something to rejoice over. Boys are prized and girls are treated as less than second class citizens. This is something that we hope you will never experience.
Some people will try to tell you that God created Adam first and that therefore men are more important. They will point to the judgments on Adam and Eve after the fall and declare that hierarchy was what God envisioned for humanity, rather than a negative consequence of sin. Others will tell you that God made the man the spiritual leader, and that the woman must follow, submit, and discount her own ideas. However, the Bible actually says that God created humanity in his image, both men and women. As an image-bearer, you have equal value, status, importance, significance, and authority with all other image-bearers. God’s will for your life is to follow God wherever he wants you to go and to do whatever he wants you to do.
As a female, you may have to continually fight this battle of where your identity resides. One of the ways that your worth may be challenged has to do with physical beauty.
As a young woman, I was haunted by this one question: “But what if I’m not beautiful?” Not only was it true that I did not turn heads or resemble the women in magazines or on television, but, deep down, I also feared that my dark secret of being born with a birth defect was the ultimate repellant to boys. I was convinced that I was not beautiful, and because of that, I would never be loved or accepted.
Even when I searched the Scriptures, my insecurities seemed to be affirmed by the descriptions of the notable women: Abraham said to his wife Sarah, “I know what a beautiful woman you are” (Gen. 12:11). Of Rebekah, it was written, “The girl was very beautiful…” (Gen. 24:16). “Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful. Jacob was in love with Rachel” (Gen. 29:17-18). It seemed to me that these women were noteworthy and loved because they were beautiful. But is that God’s way?
Further investigation led to this discovery: Of Ruth, Boaz declared, “You are a woman of noble character” (Ruth 3:11).
Among the prominent females of the Bible, Ruth is a rare exception of a woman who was described with noble character. Nothing is mentioned about her beauty. But she is a woman to be emulated and admired. Her bold actions not only made a difference to those around her but also made an eternal impact for the entire world, for all of time. She is attractive to us and honored by us for her faith, courage, steadfast love, and boldness. This story gives hope. You and I may not necessarily fit the world’s standard of beauty, but we still have the opportunity to be an extraordinary influence, bless others around us, and make an impact on all of eternity.
Look to Ruth’s story to remind you that it is far better to have character than physical beauty. Notice that the other women who were known for their beauty are also remembered for their godless actions: Sarah had a hand in Abraham’s doubting of God’s promises with regard to Hagar, Rebekah encouraged Jacob to deceive, Rachel was spiteful and ungracious toward her unloved sister. We can admire certain aspects of these women, but we also must be discerning about what we emulate in them.
Ultimately, I want you to remember from this story that it’s not about how beautiful one may appear to be but how beautiful one is inside. When you have character, you have true beauty. We are never clued in to the beauty of the surface of Ruth’s face, but we will always remember her as beautiful by her life full of grace.
God used this story as one of many to affirm me in who I am in him. As you are bombarded with different messages from this world and even from those in the church, I want you to always search the Scriptures to discover what is true. Some in the church may tell you that your identity comes from being silent and passive. The world will tell you that your identity comes from physical beauty, money, power, and popularity. These standards will always be impossible to meet. However, God’s standards are different. When we measure with his ruler (the only ruler that matters), you, my daughter, come up beautiful. You are beautiful because you were designed by God, made in his image, and created to influence and bless the world around you.
My child, you are a crown of beauty and a royal diadem in his hand (Isa. 62:3).
I love you!,
What do you have to say to your children about gender and beauty? What do you wish you would have learned as a young person about faith and physical appearance?