By Shiloh Porras
“It’s not what’s on the outside that matters, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.” A lot of us have been told this by our close friends who are trying to make break-ups less crucial, bad haircuts more bearable, and even make a pimple on your nose seem invisible. Growing up, I was always active and in sports. I loved being the fastest girl; the girl who could skillfully dribble the ball down the basketball court or soccer field. I loved being the girl who could throw a football in a perfect spiral and catch any ball that came her way; the girl that felt as though she could take on any boy in a race or fight. I never liked doing my hair or having others do it for me. I would go to school with tight braids and come home with wild and untamable hair. My mom would ask, ‘What happened to your hair?’ My response was, ‘I don’t know?’ My appearance as a child was not important to me. What was important was having friends to play with, run and fight with; friends to talk with about boys and how they all had germs (cooties).
I don’t think I started caring about my appearance until the 9th grade. That’s when I said goodbye to my geeky glasses (which are back in style) and said hello to contacts. I started doing my hair, making sure that what I wore matched my shoes. I also started asking for body spray. Oh yes, how I smelled to others began to matter. Should I try Sweet Pea, Midnight Lavender or Cherry Blossom? I finally began to care about my looks and grow out of my childlike ways. Sort of.
All through high school, my style changed here and there. What I said I would never wear, because it was too “girly,” I started wearing. I never had a problem with acne, so I never had to put on any kind of makeup. No mascara, foundation, concealer, lipstick, blush, eye liner, not even lip gloss. I can honestly say that I did not consider myself as some beautiful goddess that could stop traffic. I never stopped to think, “Hey, I’m pretty sure this guy likes me for my looks.” Nope. My thoughts were, “This guy thinks you’re funny, you’re a riot, you’re hilarious! Keep it up!” I look back at photos and think to myself, “Man, it had to be your humor that drew people to you.” I’m not calling myself ugly, but I never thought that anyone could like me for my looks. Having “good looks” is just a plus, right? I could only hope so at that time.
After high school I went to Bible college in Dallas, Texas. I stopped being active. I didn't run as much or even go to the gym. I just went to school, worked, did homework and played volleyball. At the age of 20, I began to break out dramatically. I had acne that made me want to stay in my dorm and never come out again. Acne that hurt while you were just lying in bed. Acne that left scars behind. Acne that I allowed to control me. My insecurities began to arise; my mind was a battlefield. I tried every kind of makeup that was out there to cover up. However, no makeup could cover up what I knew was underneath. I would cry myself to sleep just thinking of how horrid and wretched my face must look to others. My thoughts were, “You’re 20. You couldn't have gotten these pimples when you were at your awkward stage in life? What if you meet someone? What then?” I was my own enemy looking at myself in the mirror, wishing something would change. I wanted that perfect skin. I wanted Pro Active to work on me. I wanted to not have to wear makeup.
Today, I still struggle with acne. I constantly have to remind myself that everything will be fine. I go to the gym, break a sweat, eat smaller portioned meals, drink water, find a facial cream that will help; the whole works. I personally think we make it more difficult for ourselves, and I forgot what the Word tells us. I forgot what the Word told me! We’re living in a world that encourages us to look and regard the outward appearance above what is inside. 1 Peter 3:3-4 tells us, “Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” We've allowed ourselves to be defined by what the media considers beauty. But if you do your own research, a lot of what you see in the media is a scam. IT’S FAKE!
People struggle with what is considered beauty and what is not considered beauty. Is being skinny beautiful? Is having thicker skin beautiful? Is having perfect hair beautiful? Is having messy or stylish hair beautiful? Is walking a runway in underwear beautiful? Is covering up and being modest beautiful? What is beauty?
By now, many of you might be thinking, “Keeping up with your outward appearance is important,” and I would agree with you without a doubt. But why have we let it become our focus? There are men and women that are considered to be The Sexiest or The Best Looking on earth. But some of those men and women have the ugliest attitudes, characters, and personalities. Proverbs 31:30 says, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last.” Why are we so caught up with what is on the outside? I've had experiences where I was able to talk to homeless people, some of whom are the nicest people you could ever meet. What do they look like? Torn clothes, dirty hands, greasy hair; they haven’t bathed for weeks, they haven’t brushed their teeth. They are judged for their outward appearance. But has anyone taken the time to sit and just talk to them? In Luke 6:45 Jesus teaches, “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.” According to this teaching, your looks don’t matter; it’s your heart. What’s going on inside?
Galatians 5:22-23 tells us what our lives should be producing. “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” These are clearly the characteristics, attitudes, and personalities that we should learn to embrace; characteristics that cannot be learned overnight. Our nation needs to begin practicing a different kind of beauty. A beauty that comes from within and flows out. Do not allow pride or vanity to be your downfall. “It’s not what’s on the outside that matters. It’s what’s on the inside that counts.”