You were just walking by and that good looking man was watching you. You’re not gorgeous either, but he was curious and noticed those good traits you did have that make you beautiful. Maybe the way you dressed that day was attractive. Or maybe he was thinking something altogether different and was just generally curious about the life you lead based on where you were heading. Or maybe it was your smile. Or he noticed your general over-coming confidence about things. “Hmmm… that person looks beautiful.” For sure, you noticed his good looks and charm and wondered about him after he noticed you…
With maturity people move in a direction of not-caring so much about what other people think. Yet, we should not care for ourselves or our appearance as such. There are lessons we can learn from watching others, and having others watch us. Just getting a glance now and then from one interesting person to another is intriguing. And as diverse as the human race is, people vary in what interests them. Sexuality is not the only thing that interests men and women. Beauty is more than sexual appeal.
Women represent outward beauty, men do not. While anyone may have a beautiful soul, it is the females among mankind that have always been characterized as beautiful in looks (in some species males have the beauty marks and traits). Embracing that role requires special attention. Good taste in appearance ranges from person to person and culture to culture. Personification of our souls can be through choice in attire and adornments, and women generally personify beauty that way. So dress and adorn beautifully!
External beauty is not just a matter of good taste in dress. We can strengthen traits that make us beautiful outside of our dress. A smile, a gentle nature, a carefree attitude, and a warm facial expression are all noticed by others with just a glance. These things can be altered because we are not bound to negativity or bad dispositions. An attraction to others’ expressions and moods is part of a good bond between good friends, and a nicety among strangers. We reveal a bit of our souls to each other outwardly not only by our basic appearance but through expression and good or bad nature. And to have a beautiful soul is worth more than gold.
Sometimes a bad disposition or depression can skew reality and we can fail to see the natural beauty around us. We can fail to see the beauty in our lives, and the beautiful part of ourselves and in others. Recognizing and appreciating beauty in our daily lives is a natural anti-depressant. Creating beautiful and interesting art is also therapeutic.
The most interesting people often lead the most beautiful lives. When we think of a beautiful piece of art we are also commenting on the interesting nature of that art. Beauty IS interesting! Often people say we are born with specific passions and interests, however, mostly this is not true. We develop interests and passions overtime by pursuing them. And we should pursue interests and passions! Being beautiful is about having developed interests and passions. Again, mankind is diverse so what is interesting to one person is different to another.
We can have confidence in many things - that our car will drive down the road safely, that our career is a success and always will be, that our marriage is solid and reliable, or that our faith in certain things will take us in a good direction. In many ways the opposite of confidence is fear. We may be fearful of driving after a car accident, or a bad review at work will send us spiraling down into anxiety, or we develop fear about other relationships after losing a spouse, or we lose faith in the idea of God after a spiritual setback and fear a host of new things. Confidence is attractive but not fear. And since beauty is not skin deep, someone will be beautiful if they can overcome fears as they arise and boast confidence. Innocence has beauty, but also people who have overcome difficult experiences with success and confidence are beautiful. Withered by life a person will be dragged into the mud and sometimes never get up. If they get their wings and stand up and fly after-death to a better place we see the beauty in that. If they get their wings while they are still here on Earth they are a representative of beauty to all that know them.
There is much to overcome in life other than fearful things. People, like butterflies that were once caterpillars, are truly initiated into life from overcoming difficulty. Any mother has overcome the difficulty of labor and the challenge of raising children. As a group people of various stripes have overcome adversity, knowing their dark ages in history and rising today with more opportunity than before. Modern life includes difficulty in relationships and family, but also problems with work and temptation. We have so much at our fingertips but also must weave to and fro to stay on course. Today, we have increasing problems with addiction, sexual intimacy or behavior, economic factors, and anxiety or depression. There is a lot for people to overcome. The butterfly seems to go back into its cocoon over and over again waiting to finally blossom in its entirety.
Sin is not beautiful. God looks at sin with disgust even when He meets us with a graceful and forgiving attitude. Often, righteous people do as well. You can consider some sins and easily get an ugly feeling about them.
Beauty is seen, and beauty is emotion, but beauty is also sound. There are so many sounds described as beautiful such as the sound of the ocean, a symphony of music, the silence on a still night, or a baby crying for its mother. What makes a sound beautiful is deep meaning and emotional peace, or the stirring up of love, appreciation, and romantic notions. Where we find deep meaning vs. insignificance we find beauty. Where we find peace vs. war we find beauty. Where we find romance vs. dislike we find beauty. Where we find love and appreciation vs. disgust we find beauty. Beauty looks, sounds, and is experienced as goodness and depth.
Beauty resides in the hearts of men and women, it resides in our mind intelligence, and it resides in our soul. We carry that soul beauty with us when we pass from this life, unlike the accumulation of material items. Beauty itself has a heart, mind, and soul that reaches the four corners of the Earth, evidenced in nature through the Creation. Beauty is not just cultural or personal, but relevant to every human being in similar ways. Beauty is deep and penetrating, and we should never be so spoiled to just glance at it and look away. Beauty is inspiring. Beauty is worth striving for.
"Recently I turned 40 and I began to think about those alone years that one person or the other person has in marriage, during old age without their mate. I was thinking how we often forget certain things about a person who has passed, and that I want to remember what I love about my husband if he were to go first. I would remember going to bed together, or afternoon coffees in town and how I loved those times together, and I would remember his laughter and our deep conversations; I would remember his touch and caress, and a hug from him on a hard day. I would prefer to remember and miss my husband in grief rather than not think of him at all - missing him through memories would be worth the pain. The demonstration of love towards one another in marriage is hard to beat, and the fact that people die while others are alive and left to grieve and miss the other person deeply is one of the sorrowful examples of human love. Yet, it is an expression of deep love nonetheless. Love is complex. Love is also one of the best things about being human, and mankind should be more serious in pursuing it. The Bible says love covers a multitude of sins, and that it is greater than faith or hope. I agree." - Michelle Murphy
Relationships with others can be troublesome. This list of troubles is extensive, but includes: being put off or numb to the other person and their actions, holding grudges, hatred or anger against the other person, cheating sexually, being strangers after knowing each other a long time, taking the other person’s commitment or friendship for granted, having vengeful or mean attitudes directed against each another, and negative gossiping about the other person.
There are so many types of friendship, from being acquainted through church, work, or social organizations, to lifelong commitments such as with family and marriage. Romantic relationships and family ties endure more hardship than the average friendship; with endurance also comes the potential for deep love.
The relationship I have with my mother and sister is based on this endurance. The commitment and level of understanding we direct towards one another, along with a general awareness that family is worth the effort of a good relationship, brings about what we desire and yearn for — love. There is nothing to me like the support of a sister, who has kids I am becoming crazy about. There is also nothing to me like the support of a mother. The only thing that trumps either of these two in my life is my marriage. People are meant to thrive with the loving support of one another. Not every marriage or family has that kind of support, and it is shameful, for families and marriages are the building blocks of society and the way that people are designed to thrive. Love is worth enduring hardship to experience. As the band U2 says, “Love is bigger than anything in its way.”
The two greatest commandments are: (1) to love God with all your heart and mind, and (2) to love one another. To have a heart after God is to endeavor to do what is right, respecting His ways; it has an immediate and eternal payoff. To love other people, even as much as we love ourselves, means to look past the shell of strangers and hope they have a good life; it means to say thank you when someone does something for you, and to be a giver to those in need; it means to brainstorm what you can do to help others if you are not already in a position to do so; it means extending forgiveness when someone is oppositional. It means kindness and compassion. Love does not dictate that others respond in likeness; it is a difficult feat to love on those terms.
What about loving life? Some people have a natural disposition to love life, while others are naturally negative or depressed. All who find themselves in depression or negativity will pull out of it, or have the potential to pull out of it with effort. People with severe mental illness have succeeded in setting a goal to get out of bed and accomplish a goal on the harshest of days. And circumstances change. No one should resign their fate to a bad set of circumstances or a bad disposition. Humans are designed to succeed and grow by overcoming challenges. Someone with a natural disposition towards joy has other struggles from time to time. A person who is very smart will struggle with depression and worries, while someone with Down Syndrome will nearly always be smiling. We should learn from those with Down Syndrome that being dealt not all aces does not mean one should not love life. For those with a good disposition, bad times may stick out like a sore thumb, or maybe they are easily forgotten; for those with a depressed disposition, good times can stand out in memories upon intentional recall. Humans will always have to deal with suffering, in one form or another, but loving life is a standard we should seek. After all, there are the mountains and beaches, which do not live as humans and animals do, and we look at them with wonder. Life - breathing, talking, moving, emotional, creative, and experienced through 5 senses, is worth our amazement and deep appreciation. Shakespeare’s “to be or not to be” should be “to love what is or not to love what is” for we have no choice in “being” except to resign to a dead state, but we do have the choice to love life, or deny it for what it is.
Self-love and self-respect are a sign of good health. For how can we love others as we love ourselves, if we cannot even love ourselves? Healthy self-love is the key to life. On the other hand, attention-seeking behaviors in excess, and vain or egocentric views of one’s own value, prohibit one from moving forward. Behaviors to avoid include, but are not limited to: shamelessness, arrogance, envy, entitlement, exploitation and bad boundaries. Many have dark pasts, but no one is limited to their past. With just a mustard-seed of faith you can get started — for even the Phoenix rises from the ashes.
Some people refer to hate as an opposite of love, others war as an opposite to love. War and hate should never be synonymous; we should never go to war for reasons of hatred. We should only be involved in war if it is to preserve life, or virtue, or justice. These are positive affirmations, not negative affirmations. War is not to kill and pillage or rape an enemy, but to sacrifice, save and carve out what is good. War has a history of inciting hatred and unGodliness; we should always be cautious about endorsing war as a nation, and we should remember that hatred should never be a motivator for any action we pursue or endorse in our lives. Hatred is the opposite of love.
1 Corinthians 13, Verse 1-3, says, "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing." Just as knowledge is useless without wisdom, the greatest gifts or actions are useless without love. It may be the universe was created by God by the big bang or some other collusion of great import (most likely), but at our beginnings there was love and God was there seeing the future of us, mankind, and infusing into our core the capacity to love in His mirror image along with the choice or option not to.
Love is not just a fluffy thing for good people. It has met me in the darkness in the depths of despair. By darkness I mean places where Godliness is not present and temptation and fear-mongering thrives. I have met evil face to face with an attitude of consideration and it has either fled or been changed for the better; that is, when I have not caved in. I have experienced love from the least of people where it was not expected. And I have turned my back on others who did not give up on loving me.
I myself have been resigned to depression and deep trouble at times. During one of these troublesome times, I wrote a poem to my husband on love. I was having difficulty figuring out love at the time. In the last stanza of the poem I say, “I hear God is love, But I don’t understand it myself.” It is true - I have heard that all my life about God. And while I do understand "God is loving", the complexity of "God IS Love" is both bold and complicated.
Lonely in My Own Mind, a poem by Michelle Murphy
I came to be on a cross before my closest friends
More than once.
In general sanity has been my only friend
But I am lonely in my own Mind.
There have been a few things driving me to ruin.
But I am not afraid of the Dark. I know It.
It has not ruined me.
I have become friends with evil without becoming evil.
But I still fear evil will devour me, and man.
Or make others pay a high price for my head.
Or that I will be hung on the cross again and again.
Or that my head will finally be given up.
I was sitting on this mountain the other day, I could
Feel the breeze in the darkness, and rumors
Of war ending.
It pleased me but not enough.
I am still lonely in my own Mind.
I meet You before the dawn, You
That swirls through places and time.
Who hides in the shadows of my life.
And gives me the peace beyond understanding
When in my presence.
It’s sensual, its erotic, but the music is altogether
Different. I feel understood in a way that passes
Time. At least Time in the way I’ve come to know It.
And that is complex, as I feel we knew each other
Before the Time we caught up with each other.
I cannot fathom a simple Prayer or wish, that your genuine
Seeming generosity (which makes me tremble) and love
Be real. Because reality is not my thing.
I don’t trust it. So I don’t trust.
I meet You in my darkest of hours.
I am still lonely in my own Mind.
Except when You are near.
And now I am fearful You will come and go.
Or vanish for eternity.
I cannot dedicate to being either with You or alone.
As You might have. Or being fearful for days on end.
Because even with my best friends on the cross I feel
Some sense that I am not alone, even if
I am still Lonely in my own Mind.
Either leave me on this cross with my Friends.
Or lay ahold of me so the darkness
Can turn to Day for me and by Night
You are still there.
With you, I am no longer wanton for something.
And I am no longer lonely in my own Mind.
Show me plainly what is real, because
Reality is not my thing.
I hear God is love,
But I don’t understand it myself.
Michelle is a woman of depth whose faith has pulled her through some difficult times. She finds beauty and inspiration from life experience and literature, sourced from all ages and walks of life. Michelle seeks to inspire other women in their personal journeys, especially those who struggle. Michelle is also a mental health advocate, writer & engineer. Her other website is www.freemindbooks.com.