God-Given Radiance: Part 4

[Part Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here!]

Throughout my mission trip, I was lifted up by my teammates.  They had no idea I was testing my insecurities by going without makeup, yet they comforted me the whole way.  My eyes, which used to be my most cosmetically-enhanced feature, got more comments than ever.  With makeup, the focus was on my long eyelashes, but without makeup, the comments were all about the brightness and intensity of my eyes—which I actually prefer.  After all, it’s said that eyes are the window to the soul!

Boys truthfully don’t even seem to notice.  I side-referenced that I wasn’t wearing makeup in front of one of my male teammates one day, and he looked at me, surprised.  “You aren’t wearing makeup?”  He asked.  When I replied no, he smiled and said softly, “Natural beauty.”

(HIGH FIVE TO ALONSO FOR PERMANENTLY RAISING MY SELF ESTEEM WITH THAT COMMENT!!)

I still got a normal amount of attention from guys during my trip, especially in Venezuela (where I would be considered exotic even if I was ugly by American standards.)  I feel more confident being my natural self anyway; when I’m not wearing makeup, I don’t have to worry if a guy is going to like me less if he ever sees me without makeup or on a bad makeup day.  It’s pretty much a take-it-or-leave-it deal, but I am myself.

I have found a great deal of freedom from girlish competition by not wearing makeup as well.  When I’m wearing makeup, I’m trying to achieve the standard set by the girls around me—we’re trying to look a little more like the magazines, a little more like the societal standard of beauty:  perfect skin, dark eyelashes, bright eyes. We women are competing with each other to try to get guys’ attention and to try to look the best. Without makeup, there is no one to compare me to—I can’t compare myself with anyone else, because there is no one else I look like—I only look like me.

My eyelashes are still noticed for being long. My eyes are still noticed for being bright.  My skin has cleared up immensely, but acne still exists.  I can sleep later in the mornings.  I don’t get more comments on my appearance than normal, and I don’t feel the need to seek any.  After ten years of painting my face, I have finally found an appearance that I like:  the one that God gave me.

I find it really funny that the eye infection that I claimed was spiritual warfare was actually God’s way of answering the secret desires of my heart.  I admired my friend Tiffany for going makeup free but knew no way to do it myself, so at the perfect time, God made it happen.  How great and wonderful He is!

When I find myself looking for ways to improve my appearance or seem prettier, I focus on my heart now.  Can I serve people more?  (“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works…” Ephesians 2:10a, NIV.)  Am I smiling at everyone? (“A cheerful look brings joy to the heart…” Proverbs 15:30a, NIV.)  Is my heart resting on the peace of the Lord?  (“Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.”  Psalms 34:5 ESV.)   If I want to be prettier or feel prettier, I can only do so by focusing more on the Lord and pushing myself to love others more, which everyone benefits from.

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.  Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.  For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful…” (1 Peter 3:3-5a, NIV.)

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5 thoughts on “God-Given Radiance: Part 4

  1. Your eyes DO stand out more without makeup! Still can’t figure out how you got those BIG baby blues from me or your dad! I love you! 🙂

  2. Stephanie! What a beautiful story – thank you for sharing! You’re beautiful and wonderful and I love you and miss you!

  3. “Without makeup, there is no one to compare me to—I can’t compare myself with anyone else, because there is no one else I look like—I only look like me.” This really inspired me. Thank you for the beautiful writing!

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