I don’t always choose a word for a new year, but as I was developing my goals for 2020 (which I’ll be sharing another day), I started thinking about a word that encapsulated so much of what I was thinking about and planning for the year ahead. I settled on “Beautify” for 2020.
This was not actually my first idea. The first word I seriously considered was “Cheerfulness” after I read Lanier’s latest post. She and some others I read always exhibit a sense of cheerfulness that I am not naturally inclined toward. But then I realized that if I picked the word “Cheerfulness” I might as well put a hot pink sticky note on my forehead that tells God “Send trials in 2020” and I really don’t want to do that. I fervently prayed a few decades ago for God to make me a patient person and I feel like I’m still reaping what I sowed with that prayer. God may choose to send trials, but at this point in my life I’m not actively soliciting them.
So as I thought about what I’m writing up in my goals for the approaching year, I kept coming back to the idea of creating more beauty in every part of my life and in the ways I impact the lives of others.
Some people might not care about aesthetics, but they matter a great deal to me. Looking shabby, feeling shabby, and being surrounding by shabby things frankly depresses me. It is a drain on my mental health and overall well-being.
We are Created for Beauty
I think a big part of that is due to the fact that we were created for a beautiful world. Just a quick glance at creation clearly shows us that God loves beauty and values it as important. If we’re created in His image (and we are) then beauty matters to us as well because it’s in our very being.
I recently republished one of my very early posts, Practicality and the Death of Beauty. I wrote it about a year before we discovered we were expecting Caroline so we were in the stage of our life where it was just the two of us. Some of the things I did at that time I no longer do. I’ve added other things. But no matter what season of life I’ve found myself in, beauty has always been important to me. Beautifying my life isn’t frivolous, but necessary.
Women and Beauty
Christians need to lead the way in reclaiming beauty as a worthy and noble goal. We live in such a profane and ugly culture in many ways. Women, in particular, are encouraged to be vulgar in the name of being free, empowered, and “authentic.” But the truth is we can be free in Christ and empowered to use our gifts and abilities provided by the Holy Spirit without any need for vulgarity. To think we must be ugly or even profane in order to be powerful is a false choice. God is bigger than that. He does not require that we compromise the beauty that comes from a spirit of loveliness in order to be effective in impacting the world around us.
Nor should we be ashamed that we recognize and celebrate beauty. There is nothing weak or backward thinking in appreciating and creating beauty. It is a necessary part of life and one that all emotionally and spiritually healthy people will naturally gravitate toward. Those of us who are moved and gifted in this direction need to bring beauty to a world in desperate need of it, even if they don’t realize it.
So although I already emphasize beauty as part of creating a cozy life of peace, understanding, joy, beauty, and faith, I’m deliberately choosing the world “Beautify” as a reminder of what I’m purposing to do in my life and here in 2020.
“Beautify” is a verb and is therefore an action. It’s not just me looking at pretty things. It’s me choosing to actively seek out, create, and promote beautiful aspects of life in all I do.