A couple weeks ago I talked about qualities that enhance inner beauty. Part one of the series included getting rid of our not so pretty qualities first. It’s kind of like washing makeup off your face before you can exfoliate. Then we can let our beautiful selves shine through.
It was a difficult post. I talked about touchy topics like vanity, jealousy, bragging, complaining, etc. I’ve been working on addressing many of them myself since writing the post.
This week is much more fun though. We will talk about inner beauty qualities like kindness, generosity, etc. Oh, and the list is pretty endless. I picked seven that spoke to me.
7 Pretty Qualities That Enhance Inner Beauty
Let’s put on kindness first. According to the dictionary kindness means treating people with respect. Others might use the word “nice” as a synonym. To me though, neither of those do it justice. Anyone can fake respect. Anyone can give the appearance they are nice. But kindness can’t be faked and it goes so much deeper than just being nice to others.
Jesus wasn’t nice; but He was kind.
He didn’t plaster a fake smile on his face Sunday morning. He cared about people. Of course, it might also sound like I am describing love and honestly. True kindness can only come from a place of loving others first.
I once read that we can’t “feel kind,” we have to be kind.
This week I am making a small list of ways I can be kind to those around me.
This can be something as small as bringing in a little gift for someone one day. Or for me, holding the elevator door open while the introvert inside wants to push the close button.
FUN STORY: After I had written this first draft I held the door open for an older guy in my apartment. Once he stepped in he said, “Thank you. That was very kind of you.”
I can’t remember someone actually called me “kind.” It was a beautiful reminder about how enhancing our inner beauty radiates outwards.
“To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit.” 1 Peter 3:8
This is a tough one because sometimes gentleness can be confused with weakness. Not so. In fact, it takes a very strong woman (or man) to be gentle when it is much easier to be angry, harsh, or blunt.
Another way to look at gentleness could be “in control.” Only when we are in control of our emotions can we extend gentleness to others when it would be easier to become stressed, frustrated, or even angry.
True gentleness also has to come from a place of peace. When we have peace within us, we can extend gentleness to others.
I tied femininity in with gentleness because gentleness can be considered a feminine quality. And that’s a good thing.
Sometimes when we think of femininity we imagine floral skirts, or someone with a quiet, soft personality. Even the dictionary describes feminine as: having qualities or appearance traditionally associated with women, especially delicacy and prettiness.
Femininity or Feminism?
Some of may not like the use of the words “delicate” and “pretty.” And that’s OK, because feminine women can be strong. Tying it back into gentleness it can often mean we have the ability to be strong, but know when to take a step back. We have the ability to speak up and be confident, but know when to follow. It also means we have the ability to be authoritative and in charge, but also know when to be gentle and delicate, too.
And yes, it also means if we are a woman, we do not have to worry about trying to be a man.
As Elisabeth Elliot said in Let Me Be a Woman:
“It is a naive sort of feminism that insists that women prove their ability to do all the things that men do. This is a distortion and a travesty. Men have never sought to prove that they can do all the things women do. Why subject women to purely masculine criteria? Women can and ought to be judged by the criteria of femininity, for it is in their femininity that they participate in the human race. And femininity has its limitations. So has masculinity. That is what we’ve been talking about. To do this is not to do that. To be this is not to be that. To be a woman is not to be a man. To be married is not to be single – which may mean not to have a career. To marry this man is not to marry all the others. A choice is a limitation.”
“To me, a lady is not frilly, flouncy, flippant, frivolous and fluff-brained, but she is gentle, she is gracious, she is godly and she is giving.” Elisabeth Elliot
I’m being very careful with this topic as the word “modest” conjures up bad connotations. One where we want to put women in symbolic chains, and cover them from head to toe. Real modesty has nothing to do with the clothes we wear, but everything to do with our heart.
I’ve never had many curves, if anything I’ve been on the thin side. I’ve always justified that it’s okay to wear skimpy bathing suits. As I grew older I noticed the more I wore certain clothing or makeup, the more I could get guys to look at me. And I put on modesty
That is until I stopped and realized some of those men had girlfriends, wives and daughters. And that I wouldn’t want my husband to look at another woman that way.
When I realized I could wear certain things to garner attention I didn’t want that kind of attention. Yes, I still wanted to try to look put together and attractive, but who did I want to attract? If the answer was anyone and everyone then I knew I had a modesty problem in my heart.
And for the record, it is not only the type of clothes. We can dress “modest” by any baptist church standards and still not be modest if our goal is to turn heads. That is vanity.
This week put on modesty with me. Not a floor length skirt and ugly sweater. Heck, I practically live in leggings. But modesty where if we have a bad hair day or no one checks us out that day that is fine with us. And modesty where we don’t try to pick out outfits to try to gain attention from people we shouldn’t.
As you might have guessed, this is more than about wearing a purity ring until we get married. Like many of these pretty qualities we can put on, purity begins in the heart.
Here are a few ways to pursue purity this week:
- Read the Bible. It’s about the best starting place there is!
- Stay alert for things that are not pure (TV shows, concerts, jokes, etc).
- Decide ahead of time that you will pursue purity, instead of getting caught unaware in a tempting situation.
- Continue to live out your values and morals and keep friends close who are doing the same.
- Don’t say “Oh, I’d never do that!” You are capable of any terrible thing. I know I am. It’s God and our will power that keep us from it.
- Continue to pursue God (or start if you haven’t.)
- Like #2, guard what we see, watch, and read. If it’s something you wouldn’t want the whole world to know you watched or said – that’s a good indication it may not be pure.
“Clean up a pigsty,” she commented one evening, “and if the creatures in it still have pig-minds and pig-desires, soon it will be the same old pigsty again,” – Catherine Marshall, Christy.
I once asked a friend to pray for me to become more generous. Normally, friends say “sure!’ but this friend stopped me in my tracks when they refused to pray for that. She said God cannot make me generous. I have to choose it.
“To whom much is given, much is required.” Generosity is a character trait, it must be built to show that you recognize how much God has done for you. You need to start small, it’s like building muscles in a gym.
If I’m honest, I often struggle with generosity. MY money. It was MY time. They were MY friends.
I only “like” to give when I have plenty, not out of my own store house, so to say.
I’m still working on it (pray for me!) but one way to start is to set aside some of your personal money each month and say “I am going to use this for someone else this month that can’t repay me.”
It’s a good little exercise that can start small and really grow your heart.
“God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9: 7
You know those times where you do something embarrassing, or screw up, and you instantly feel humbled? Well, believe it or not but those times can be useful. For the record, I feel that way about 10 times a week so maybe God is really trying to humble me.
Real humility comes only after we see ourselves as we truly our: kind of hot messes sometimes. And that nothing we have we really earned. Every good gift is from God from your pretty looks to your awesome job.
Humility is seeing others how we should: as people with unique talents and abilities who have so much WORTH. When we begin to see others this way we will hold them in higher esteem, and ourselves a little lower. Not lower in the sense of putting ourselves down, but lower in the sense of putting others before ourselves out of love. Now that, is truly beautiful.
“It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly than to divide the spoil with the proud.” Proverbs 16:19
Honestly and being committed are two very pretty qualities to possess.
By honestly I don’t mean, “Yes, you do look fat in that dress.” But instead, letting your “yes be yes and your no be no.”
When you say you’ll do something – you’ll do it. When you commit to a project or event – you show up. I’ll be honest, being committed has been a struggle for me. I like to blame it on being an introvert, but I usually hate making commitments or plans because what if I don’t feel like leaving the house that day? Since I’m committed at work, I like to think any event or gathering outside of work is voluntary. Wrong.
So starting this summer I decided that if I said I was going to go to something, or do something – I followed through. It meant I had a lot more obligations to fill this summer but can I just say how good it felt? When committed to things I kept my word. I didn’t back out because I didn’t want to leave the house, or thought I had better things to do. I showed up.
Maybe you don’t struggle with being committed, but if you’re like me I encourage you to write down that you will be committed to your commitments.
Honesty is refreshing
As for honesty, they don’t say it’s refreshing for nothing. If you’re prone to exaggerating or stretching the truth this is something to work on this week as well. But remember, honesty without a little sensitivity can sometimes just be mean.
“And don’t say anything you don’t mean. But let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no.” Matthew 5:36-37
This week ask yourself: What kind of woman do I want to be? For me, I want to be generous, humble and kind. Are there any inner beauty qualities I missed? Let me know below.