Beauty that Mirrors Don’t Reflect.

October 3, 2007


This is one of my favorite paintings by Norman Rockwell. It captures well the preoccupation of many (myself included). Note the make-up & hairbrush on the floor by her feet; the magazine propped on her lap; the tossed-aside doll; the wistful, half-reproachful look into the mirror.

I bought a small copy of this my freshman year of college & posted it up right next to my mirror. It was my visual reminder of I Peter 3:3-4 – “Your adornment must not be merely external – braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.”

It’s difficult not to be overly concerned (key word: “overly”) with physical appearances when we live in a society that is obsessed with physical beauty. A woman can be called intelligent, funny, kind, or gifted, but chances are, none of these adjectives will please her more supremely than calling her beautiful. After all, it’s typically the beautiful who receive more attention, better treatment, immediate approval, admiration, the envy of others, & the benefit of the doubt.

We’re obsessed with appearances on all levels, because whether we like to admit it or not, we fear man (mankind) & hold on to his approval like gems when we ought to fear God & seek His approval instead. “For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (I Samuel 16:7).

But where to find the beauty that doesn’t wash off, fade, wrinkle, put on pounds, or go out of style? Where to find the beauty that mirrors don’t (& can’t) reflect? Where to find the beauty that Almighty God is pleased with & finds precious?

I Peter 3:4 says it’s in “the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle & quiet spirit.” The adornment & beauty that pleases God is internal & eternal, not merely external – a gentle & quiet spirit.

Gentleness refers to “meekness . . . that disposition of spirit in which we accept [God’s] dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting . . . [it is] the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest. It stems from trust in God’s goodness and control over the situation. The gentle person is not occupied with self at all. This is a work of the Holy Spirit, not of the human will (Gal 5:23)” (BlueLetterBible.Org). This word for “gentle” is also used to describe Jesus (Matthew 11:29). Such gentleness is “an active attitude & deliberate acceptance, not just passive submission” (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia).

Quietness refers to the “tranquility arising from within . . . it is associated with ‘meek’, & is to characterize the spirit or disposition” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words). It refers to a “tranquil disposition free from the inner turmoil that causes disturbances” (I.S.B.E.).

Here is the beauty that does not fade. Here is a beauty that the ‘mirror, mirror on the wall’ cannot reflect. Here is true lasting beauty. “Though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).

That doesn’t mean we put all our mirrors, make-up, fine clothes, & jewelry away. The Proverbs 31 woman was commended for her clothing of “fine linen & purple” (Proverbs 31:22). But we don’t make these our idol, our pursuit of first importance.

“Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'” (I Peter 5:5)

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy & beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, & patience, bearing with one another . . . put on love.” (Colossians 3:12-14)

May we seek, with all our hearts, the kind of beauty that is precious in His sight – the kind of beauty that is faithfully reflected to us in the unchanging, clear mirror of His Word . . . & that is cultivated in unceasing prayer, in walking by the Spirit, in abiding in Christ.

“Charm is deceitful, & beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).


7 Responses to “Beauty that Mirrors Don’t Reflect.”

  1. garnet Says:

    where did you buy the picture ? 🙂


  2. tia Says:

    On Library Walk, at UCSD :] I’m sure you can buy it online somewhere!

  3. cathie Says:

    thanks tia. :]

  4. stevenhong Says:

    Happy Birthday, friend! Hope you have a good one!

    p.s. I have that poster on my wall too. Just kidding.

  5. pastorpatrick Says:

    Happy Birthday, Tia! Christine and I are always thinking of you! =) Sorry we can’t celebrate together in person. Oh well… we’ll just have to save it for another day. ~P

  6. tia Says:

    Thanks Steven & Pat!

    p.s. Steven, I’m not surprised (. . . is this where I’m supposed to say “just kidding”? hehe)

    p.p.s. Pat, I left Cho-Cho a message on her phone today, but the two of you singing on my voicemail reminded me of Hoops & Yoyo (that may be my new nickname for you two: Hoops & Chocho)

  7. Maximus Says:

    I would like to see a continuation of the topic

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