By: Beth Doohan
“In order to learn what it means to be a woman, we must start with the One who made her.” (Elisabeth Elliot)
“I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. How precious to me are Your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!” ~Psalm 139: 14 and 17, NIV
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A five-year old girl giddily climbs a playground slide, with her pale yellow hairbow bouncing atop curly dark hair. A seventy-five year old grandma, whose hands are soft and worn, expertly crafts a meal to “feed the herd” at a family dinner. A professional businesswoman shares a bright, genuine smile at a client, exuding confidence and grace in her manner. An exhausted mother sighs in delight, tears of joy streaming down her face, as she gazes at her precious newborn daughter. What do all these women have in common? Beauty. Unabashed, genuine, feminine beauty.
God created each woman to be beautiful, with her own unique characteristics, strengths, heart and physical appearance. 1 Peter 3:3-5a says, “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. This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful” (NLT). When we view ourselves rightly, according to God’s design for us, it changes how we view ourselves and others.
As women, our beauty is something for us to enjoy and be confident in as part of our God-given identity. Not to be flaunted or hidden, this beauty is unique, part of who God made us to be in fulfilling His calling for us. A woman of God is no longer fixed on comparison, nor looks to others to give her fulfillment, but rather, she finds her hope in the Lord and rests in Him. She enjoys being who she is and sees herself as beautiful. This self-confidence in the Lord equips her to become strong, accepted and loved by others, which gives her opportunities to serve.
Bethany Hamilton has become a recognized force for overcoming intense trauma, obstacles and following God’s calling despite setbacks. She is an incredible woman who from a young age was committed to serving the Lord and becoming a professional surfer. At the age of 13, she was attacked by a shark and lost her left arm. For many, this defeat would have ended all hopes of surfing professionally, perhaps even ended their faith. But not Bethany Hamilton. A month after the attack, she got up on a surfboard again and has since realized her dreams of professional surfing and testifying to her faith as a public speaker, author and the inspiration for films Soul Surfer and Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable. Hamilton actively competes in events such as the World Surf League (WSL) and in 2017 was inducted into the Surfer’s Hall of Fame.
As a wife and mother of two young boys, Hamilton continues to share her comeback story and compete in events such as the World Surf League. One of her most precious outlets is the organization Beautifully Flawed, which offers retreats and other resources for young women who have experienced traumatic limb loss. Through a time of Bible study, fitness training, pampering, nutrition education and surfing, these amazing girls are encouraged to walk through a season of healing and are reminded of who God created them to be.
Hamilton shared that a primary goal of these retreats is to let the young women see that they can be beautiful and strong, even with limb loss and having experienced tragedy. One retreat participant shared, “God created us to be set apart and He doesn’t want us to just live the normal life. But He wants us to be different and He wants us to be bold and, we are created physically different, so we should let that shine.” (see highlights from the 2019 Beautifully Flawed Retreat, here). What joy this young woman must bring our Lord as she delights in His design and calling for her!
In closing, remember that our beauty is God-given, designed as a way for us to bring Him glory. No matter the hurts and insecurities we have experienced, our Lord asks us to invite Him into the deep parts of our heart to bring healing and wholeness in midst of pain, sin and suffering. Wholehearted surrender makes our lives even more beautiful as we follow Him. You were created on purpose as a woman to glorify God, to serve others and to enjoy His design for your femininity!
Time to Reflect:
- How does the way you dress, carry yourself, speak and think reflect the state of your heart as a daughter of the King? How has God made you beautiful (physical make, unique characteristics, areas of strength, etc.)?
- Think about several women whom you admire or aspire to emulate. How do they reflect the beauty God designed for them (acts of service, confidence, self-care, tenderness, etc.)?
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(If you would like to learn more about Bethany Hamilton and her retreat, Beautifully Flawed, visit https://bethanyhamilton.com/ and https://www.friendsofbethany.com/beautifully-flawed/)
(This devotion contains excerpts from The Wholehearted Woman: Who She is and Why She Matters by Beth Doohan and Jenni Walker.)