The Word teaches that real beauty comes from the inner self. This is great news on days when we feel ugly. In fact, 1 Peter 3:3 (on right) is one of the major reasons I left the modeling industry — because while everyone else critiqued the outside, God loved the girl within.
While I’m glad my worth in God’s eyes is beyond the flesh, this verse also troubles me. Unfading beauty, it reads, is rooted in a "gentle and quiet spirit." That’s the problem: I don’t have a gentle and quiet spirit. I’m passionate and opinionated. When I’m really mad, I’ve been known to yell. "Gentle" and "quiet" aren’t the first words to describe me!
Some days it seems Botox, hair extensions, a personal trainer, plastic surgery, a new set of clothes and miracle makeup would be easier avenues to beautiful. But this is an endless battle: it’s the world’s way of chasing an "unfading" physical beauty that is unattainable anyway. While I’m not against looking our best — in fact I’m all for it — sometimes focusing on the physical is a serious distraction from dealing with the woman within.
Recently I asked some trusted friends to name the traits of a truly beautiful woman. They answered with words like peace, joy, patience, faithfulness, compassion, love, unselfishness, kindness. We all know women who have a beauty like this: there is a sparkle in their eye that speaks of a deep joy, a deep peace. They overflow with the kind of unselfish love that draws us to them. They may not look like a Revlon model, but they have a beauty that lasts. By knowing them, we are changed and inspired.
Lashing out at someone I love always makes me feel uglier than having my face broken out or flesh bulging from jeans that used to fit. Deep inside, it hurts when a loved one needs me to have a "gentle and quiet" spirit and I have anything but. As 1 Corinthians 4:21 says, we choose how to react: we can come at someone as with a "whip" or in gentleness and love. Obviously love is the better choice, but that doesn’t mean we get it right every time.
Here’s the good news: the fruit of the Spirit as defined in Galatians 5 lists every attribute my friends described as real beauty. The spirit Paul refers to in 1 Peter 3:3 is not the natural human spirit, but Christ’s Spirit in us. What is beautiful to God? A woman who hopes in him. A woman whose heart is open for him to fill it. The more we open ourselves to be filled, the more our character is transformed. The less we are like our selfish humanity and the more we become like Christ, who is radiant with perfect beauty (He 1:3; Ps 50:2).
The other day I was very frustrated with my daughter and felt like lashing out. But something extraordinary happened: I opened my mouth, and loving, kind words flowed from it. Something miraculous takes place when we ask God to give us a beauty that lasts — we make a ton of mistakes, and then we have moments like this, when his Spirit takes over. We begin to see and enjoy the sweet fruit of his love shining through us.
Finally, we care less and less about looking a certain way and realize that acting a certain way can be much more attractive . . . even when no one is watching.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
At the age of 18, I was recovering from an eating disorder, cutting, and suicide when I read Jennifer Strickland’s book Girl Perfect and it changed my life. At the age of 33, as I travel the world reaching youth for the gospel, this is the only book I recommend to girls who are struggling. The Lord has truly anointed Jennifer’s words through her story, not only to address the struggles of today’s generation of girls, but also to walk them through the healing necessary for victory.
Jennifer is a captivating speaker. She keeps the listener hanging in wonder of what’s coming next! Her presentation is not only absorbing, it reveals the truth of God’s power to heal a wounded spirit.
Barbara Brown, Former Stonecroft Ministries Regional Representative, San Diego, CA
“The ‘P’ word [perfection] may be the heaviest burden women bear. All the misguided things we do to attain it can keep us away from what we need most – the unconditional love of God the Father. The Girl Perfect Study Guide gives you a map to the wholeness you were created for.”
Nancy Ortberg, author and former teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church
“The Girl Perfect Study Guide shatters the lies girls and women believe and points to the ultimate truth, which really does set us free. I am confident that this study will help thousands discover a beauty, purpose, and worth that truly lasts. Thank you Jen for exposing the ‘perfect life’ and inviting girls to experience God’s ‘perfect love.'”
Allie Marie Smith
Allie Marie Smith, Founder of Wonderfully Made
One of the best testaments to what Jennifer is doing for the young girls and women of today is a comment from my eleven-year-old granddaughter: “Grammy, I want to read this book and hear her again. She’s good and I learned a lot.” This is exactly what I experienced from a grown-up perspective when I was introduced to Jennifer Strickland’s amazing story. Read it and see if you don’t get the real story from an icon model and a powerful speaker of truth.”