“Favor is deceitful, beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” Proverbs 31:30
As a young church girl, I thought this scripture meant that it was wrong to be beautiful, that I shouldn’t want the favor of anyone, and that I should be afraid of God.
Wow was I off!
Many other times in Proverbs it is said that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. The understanding of fear that I had as a child is not the kind of fear God desires of us. When we don’t really understand His heart, we tend to shy away from God and work with all our might to be approved by Him. That’s how I was. And because beauty is my passion, I really had to wrestle with the meaning of this verse.
I wanted to be beautiful, but I had a false understanding that it was wrong, so I tried to fulfill my own desires by making other women look their best. I loved being a cosmetologist, I didn’t mind standing in front of a mirror making others look beautiful because I was numb to the disappointments of my own reflection.
Then I learned first hand that “favor is deceitful.”
Ten days after finding out I was pregnant, my (now ex) husband left me for other women, and I felt the pain of favor-turned-bad. Being betrayed by the man I loved dearly was a deep rejection, and it began a Beauty Battle within me. I couldn’t help but compare myself to the others he had chosen. That’s when I began my experience with vanity…
vanity |ˈvanətē| noun ( pl. -ties) 1 excessive pride in or admiration of one's own appearance or achievements 2 the quality of being worthless or futile
I began to understand what God’s Word meant by “beauty is vain.” It can be make us prideful, but it can also blind us to the value we have as God’s design. I think the thing this verse is really saying is that seeking after beauty is like chasing the wind: vain.
vain |vān| adjective 1 having or showing an excessively high opinion of one's appearance, abilities, or worth 2 [ attrib. ] producing no result; useless • having no meaning or likelihood of fulfillment
I no longer think that the God who created so much beauty disapproves of it; I believe He not only loves it, He longs to be known for it. I think He wants us women to stop putting so much hope in our image. Just as a loved one’s favor may change, so does our beauty. Chasing after such things is futile, instead we should chase after the One who created us, and fear Him only.
Lord, Thank you for putting so much beauty in Your creation. Help me to be a reflection of your glory without becoming obsessed with my image or others’ opinions. It is you only that I fear, and your favor alone that I seek. You do not look at my outward appearance, but at my heart. Help me to do the same with others, and with myself. Amen
Catrina Welch is an image- and life-coach whose message is not as much “what not to wear” as it is, “Know Who You Are,” which is the title of her book of guidelines for your personal image identity. Catrina has also written a Bible study to help women overcome their image issues. It is titled Supreme MakeOver: a Rich and Refreshing Devotional Experience. Her other books include Footprints Through the Sand: a Consolidation of Life-altering stories about Loving and Loosing a Trisomy-18 Baby and Confident Beauty: Reflecting the One Who Made You with the Images in Your Mirror and Your Soul.