"Lovely To Look At"
"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it within us or we find it not.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
What does it mean to be beautiful?
If someone described me as "lovely to behold," how would this make me feel?
"Beauty is the radiance of truth; the fragrance of goodness."
"God's fingers can touch nothing but to mould it into loveliness."
I love old movies. And I'm especially fond of classical old musicals. It seems to me that many of the films, often based on Broadway shows, reflected a kinder and gentler side of life. I have always enjoyed the musicals that featured the stunning Kathryn Grayson and the debonair Howard Keel. And how these two could sing. One movie that featured both of them was, "Lovely To Look At." Here are the words to the lush number that is the title song whose lyrics are credited to Dorothy Fields:
"Lovely to look at, delightful to know
And heaven to kiss
A combination like this
Is quite my most impossible scheme come true
Imagine finding a dream like you
You're lovely to look at
It's thrilling to hold you terribly tight
For we're together, the moon is new
And, oh, it's lovely to look at you tonight."
Quite frankly, I don't know too many women who wouldn't want to hear these words whispered in their ears. I know I like to hear kind words that let me know I'm looking good. It makes me feel wonderful, and I'm certain I'm speaking for more than one woman when I say that the affirmation that you are beautiful is one, we as women, love to be honored with.
In II Samuel 11, a book that contains part of the historical record of David's reign, we find the author makes the specific point that Bathsheba was lovely to look at.
As I've read this text rather frequently in preparation for our study on the lives of David and Bathsheba, I asked myself this question, "Would David have given Bathsheba the time of day if she were identified as ugly?" It was this question that got me to thinking about the shallow way we not only size-up ourselves, but others, too, by the superficial externals we see at first glance.
As David looked around Jerusalem, he was totally taken in by the external beauty of one woman. This is what caught and kept his attention. This incident reminded me of a similar one which occurred in my own life many years ago.
I want to take all the girls in the garden today back to a time that many of you have already shared with me was a painful time in your lives - your high school years. I still carry some painful scars from that time in my own life - scars that were carved, not by just the opposite sex, but also by other girls who in order to feel as though they were on a higher level, chose to put down the girls they thought themselves too elevated to associate with. To be blunt, I wasn't one of the in-crowd girls in high school who had the latest and greatest of everything. Most of my clothes were homemade - and they were gorgeous for my mother's loving hands took great care in designing each outfit. However, popular culture at that time wasn't into homemade. Supposed fashion mania dictated some fancy designer labels needed to be stitched into everything you owned. Add to this that I was 5'8" and skinny as a rail with an out-of-style short haircut, and you have the makings for the odd-girl-out. Don't get me wrong, I had it better than some others who were deemed just plain ugly -- and were reminded of this fact way too often by the snobs who looked down upon these girls they considered to be below their social status. What's more, for those of us who never quite measured up, the invitations for dates were few and far between, too.
And then, one day, some of us "plain Jane's" grew up. And I'll never forget running into a male high school classmate right after I finished college, whose first words to me were, "What happened to you?" At this point in time, he wanted to take me out immediately and it was all because the cosmetic changes he perceived on the outside were enough to catch his fancy. Unfortunately, we all repeat this behavior too often. Our assessments of others are based on external criteria and like David, we are taken off-guard as our eyes fall upon something or someone who is "lovely to look at."
This is why David stumbled and fell. And it is why we read so frequently in the Psalms where David penned words that let us in on the fact that he recognized the folly in letting his eyes seize upon the externals rather than the beauty of a pure heart.
I love the quote I shared by George MacDonald, "God's fingers can touch nothing but to mould it into loveliness." Maybe a great deal of your life you've felt like the "ugly duckling." Perhaps you've felt passed over and no one ever stops to tell you that you are lovely. Well, I have great news for you today. God never created a daughter who wasn't beautiful or a son who wasn't handsome. And when your Father lays His eyes upon you, He smiles and whispers, "You're lovely to look at."
There's something else I'd like to add though - and it's a message to all God's daughters, in particular. We need to do all we can in our power to lift each other up as women and to see the beauty that is within and without each of us. Too often, we as women, tear each other down with critical comments that only wound already fragile hearts. I am reminded today of single moms, divorced women, widows and wives who never, ever hear the kindness of a voice saying, "You are lovely to look at." This is something we can do for each other to help every daughter of God feel valued. As my dear friend Betteanne said to me several weeks ago, "My mother always told me that I should never judge a person or treat a person less because of how they look on the outside." I think this is deliciously wonderful advice. To put some action into our words, why not send a note today to someone you care about. Tell them they are "lovely to look at," just as their Father created them. Trust me, you'll make someone's day a lot more beautiful!
help me to believe
the truth about myself—
no matter how beautiful it is!"
Several years ago my husband and I were able to spend a few days at Monument Valley, one of the most gorgeous places I've ever been to here in the United States. The land is quite barren except for immense and prominent rock formations which dot the desert landscape. The wide-open desert is owned by Native Americans, specifically the Navajo Tribe. I was treated to a hair weaving in a hogan by "Susie," a 90-year-old great-grandmother who had given birth to all her children there in the seclusion of the desert. "Susie," in the Navajo language said a prayer for our group and later that night, as I walked out under a starry sky in the quiet darkness, I looked up at the vast spectacle, and again felt touched by the love of my heavenly Father whose finger's created nothing but beauty.
It wasn't too long after this experience that I found this "Prayer For Beauty," written by Navajo Native American Women and I'd like to share it with you today:
Prayer For Beauty
"Watch over us
Your hand before us, protect us,
Heal us, make us well.
As You speak to us, we speak to You:
May it be beautiful before us,
May it be beautiful behind us,
May it be beautiful above us,
May it be beautiful everywhere.
Restore us in beauty
Restore us in beauty."
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $8.00. Or by calling Transformation Garden at 1-888-397-4348.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.