I have to admit my share of foolishness and vanity in this area. For the last 2-3 years, I've gone through braces, contacts, and make-up. I've ceaselessly spent efforts observing what clothes make me taller, thinner, and what colors would work on me. On top of that, I resolved to shed all the unwanted pounds I had, and underwent my share of self-denial (or self-abuse) to achieve that resolution.
Then one day a few weeks ago, I stood in front of my full-length mirror. I had finally done it. I had my fair-skinned face adorned by long, straight hair. I had perfect teeth and no glasses. I had the features, form, and "perfect" figure that I had always wanted. Then I had to ask, "Now what?"
When your goal has been reached...now what?
I took a deep, deep breath in front of my mirror that day, realizing the answer to my two-worded question. After paying so much for the sake of outward beauty, I had to face the reality of whether or not it mattered, or more importantly, whether or not I had anything to "back it up" inside.
God soon gave me the perfect illustration. Last week, our family had epidemic week. Family members fell sick one after another, and we had to nurse each other while sick ourselves. There was no time for vanity. For the first time in a long while, I would live days without a single glance at the mirror. It was all about caring, giving, and strength...
One day, I took a peek at myself. My hair was in tangles, my eyes were puffy, my face was spotted with pimples after days without facial care, my form was, well, formless in my pajamas and jacket. If I had been pretty, I wasn't pretty then.
Whenever I do not use make-up or dress well in real life, I get much less attention. When a girl wants to stand out, she has to be pretty. Yet did it matter?
My mother toiled endlessly during those days her children were sick, sacrificing sleep and rest. We were an ugly bunch, but that never kept her away. And when we had to watch out for each other, what mattered wasn't appearances. What mattered was character in patience and selflessness, what mattered was spirituality in prayer.
Those were things the mirror could never have told me. Yet in times of crisis, those were the things that mattered. Inner beauty, character, spirituality, and care—things the mirror never tells—are what differentiate loved ones from strangers, or deep from superficial.
As my time and strength to pamper myself returns, I hope that I would remember this lesson. Outward beauty has its role, but it can only do so much. "Outer beauty catches the eye, inner beauty keeps the heart." O may the Lord help me seek the inside even more so than the outside.