As I was developing my goals for this year (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”.
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 this year” 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.
“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.
I like the word you’re choosing.
I’ve figured out I don’t really do anything useful with picking a word of the year, but looking at one does get me thinking.
I’ve learned that picking a positive word instead of a corrective word works better for me. It’s almost like it gives me a excuse (?) or reason (?) to allow myself to focus on something that is important to me, but isn’t “necessary” to the functioning of life.
So picking something like “Gratitude” or “Joy” or “Frugality” or something like that has a corrective bent to it. I’m saying that I’m deficient in those areas and so I need to correct them. For me, it’s a negative focus. Choosing “Beauty” allows me to focus on creating something better around me without focusing on my personal shortcomings or failings.
I hope that makes sense!
Makes total sense.
I just joined your site
through the” simple homestead blog hop? I chose two of your articles to read not knowing they were both yours.
I have never had a word
Of the year and have been considering one this year. I like your word. I like things to have beauty but struggle with making the effort to achieve the look. Several of my goals this year reflect a desire to create more beauty in my life. Your article was very timely. Thank you.
Welcome! I’m sorry it took me a week (!) to respond to your comment. But I’m so glad you are here and that the things I wrote were helpful.
I have a lot of posts and such related to creating a life of beauty on my site. Did you subscribe and receive The Simple Life Library? That is one place to start. You could also check out my podcast and the posts I have tagged with Beauty. I’ll leave the links here in case you haven’t found them already.
That’s a very worthwhile word. The “Women and Beauty” section above reminded me of why I like old books so much…there’s a lot of beauty there. In particular, I think of L. M. Montgomery’s novels, with her heroines that make their world a more beautiful place, and are examples of beautiful girls and women themselves. (Even if they don’t have the typical pretty looks of a Josie Pye, for instance!)
It’s interesting you brought up the books. I find older fiction much more enjoyable. Anything from the past several decades is just too filled with people, attitudes, actions, etc. I simply don’t relate to.
Fortunately, I think the pendulum is already starting to swing back in the other direction for many women toward beauty. It’s hard to deny something that is imprinted on your very being, even if your culture is trying its best to destroy it or tell you it doesn’t exist.