Angela Thomas: We are Beautiful in God's Eyes
- Wednesday, February 26, 2003
Within every woman, there is a core question of the soul that affects how she sees herself, sees others and even how she views God. Angela Thomas, author of Do You Think I'm Beautiful? The Question Every Woman Asks (Thomas Nelson, February 2003), believes the title of her book echoes the question issuing from the soul of every woman. Thomas believes this one question, and how it is answered from childhood into adulthood, shapes a woman's personal self-esteem and her spiritual values.
"The beauty that I desire is not really about body image," says Thomas, who vividly recalls her days as a teenage wallflower. "The deeper 'beautiful' I long for is about complete acceptance. And through the years, I have found myself looking for that acceptance in every place but the right one."
Thomas sees this longing to be known as beautiful as part of the intrinsic design of women. "Women often settle for 'reliable' or 'efficient' when they really want to be known as 'beautiful.' I want women to know that is its okay to ask the question that came attached to their souls-and I want to see them convinced that the God of Heaven and Earth is smitten with their beauty."
In Do You Think I'm Beautiful?, Thomas shares how she dared to ask this question and how, in her soul's darkest night, she heard an enthusiastic, affectionate "yes!" The answer to her question did not come from the pages of a women's magazine, from a self-help book, or from increased self-esteem. Thomas discovered that only God could affirm her acceptance and beauty, and she offers readers companionship as they make their own journey.
Here, Thomas answers a few questions about her book, about beauty in general, and about God's assurance.
Q: Your book, surprisingly, doesn't focus on body image. If women aren't asking, "Do you think I'm beautiful?" in regard to their bodies, then what are they asking about?
Thomas: I think the question is more about acceptance. The deeper 'beautiful' we long for is about being seen and known deeply, but we often find ourselves looking for that answer in every place but the right one. I know because I have been there. Other people and some things like career and education can give us a part of the answer, but ultimately, the fullness of being called beautiful can only come as a shout from God.
Q: If this question is common to all women, when do they first begin to ask?
Thomas: From my childhood, I began to realize that I could not have anything in life that required me to be beautiful. I understood almost instinctively that I should keep my head down, study hard, try to do the right thing and, maybe, life would turn out okay in the end. When no one notices, we learn to pretend that it doesn't matter. But it matters and it has mattered from our earliest memories.
Q: So many teenage girls struggle with feeling unlovely, which sometimes leads to eating disorders, depression and worse. How does it harm women to measure their value by physical beauty?
Thomas: We are wired for relationship and we can't help it . . . we want others to validate what they see in us or about us. But to believe that complete acceptance will finally come from the words of a man or a society is harmful. Apart from the truth of God's love, we'll find ourselves spiritually impoverished. We become like the prodigal son who has left his father to pursue pleasure . . . eventually he finds himself empty, broke and almost dead. But just like the prodigal, we can come to our senses and watch the Father run to us with His wild love, assuring us that He has always called us beautiful.
Q: How do you see grown women, even Christian women, trying to deal with this question?
Thomas: Many of us pretend and many of us become functional addicts, trying to drown out the voices in our heads that tell us we are unworthy and unlovely. A woman might have one glass of wine for dinner, but the rest of the bottle after everyone is gone. Reasonable shopping out with the girls, but reckless spending later via catalogs. Responsible Internet use with the children, but late nights in chat rooms with inappropriate discussions. We smile a lot, dance around it, hide the pain with some forms of pleasure. But soon the pleasure is gone. The thrill is gone. The desire is gone. And we are still left with the question, unanswered.
Q: Where does the desire for beauty originate? Is it merely a cultural phenomenon in our Western world?
Thomas: I truly believe that the longing to be known as beautiful is part of our design as women. God put us together this way on purpose. I have been talking to women, discussing this idea. I have been in meetings with some of the most brilliant women I've ever known. Women who run companies, dress like someone out of Vogue magazine, have engaging relational skills, and just plain intimidate every other woman they meet. Even these women are haunted by the question (Am I beautiful?).
Q: There will be women who hear you and think, "I don't even ask-I know I'm not beautiful." What do you say to these women?
A: Me too. Or at least that used to be me. But what I most want to tell these women is that God calls them beautiful; He is enthralled with their beauty. I am telling you that the God of Heaven and earth is wild about you! He's smitten, He's consumed, He's so taken with you! Let Him make you captivating. How much more of your life do you want to pass?
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