WHEN the comedian said that beauty is only skin-deep but ugly goes all the way to the bone, I laughed with the others. But silently and soberly I remembered when I was very discouraged about my appearance. Commitments and countless responsibilities had left no time for special cosmetic care, trips to the hair stylist, or exercise. During this time a tender tribute from my husband comforted me. ``You have the look of someone who cares for others,'' he said kindly, ``and that has a beauty all its own.'' The words didn't actually make me feel prettier, but they set me at work to discover the beauty that comes from the depth of spiritual qualities such as unselfish love. Christ Jesus urged his followers to look away from the flesh and to cultivate God-derived qualities -- love for one another, meekness and mercy, peace and patience. Speaking of the lilies of the field, he said that ``even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.'' And he added that profoundly Christian directive, ``Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.''1
Christian Science teaches that the search for God reveals the source of all good, including loveliness. Mary Baker Eddy2 writes, ``Beauty is a thing of life, which dwells forever in the eternal Mind and reflects the charms of His goodness in expression, form, outline, and color.''3
Pointing to the Biblical revelation of man as the image and likeness of God, Christian Science upholds our inalienable right to express the beautiful characteristics that constitute God's being. In order to bring such beauty into our experience, often some ugly traits must be removed through the conscious, deliberate exercise of Christliness in daily life. Love, for example, is a Christly quality that conquers anger, hatred, and irritability, softening the features with kindness and compassion. Purity of thought and action maintains a sweetness of expression that nothing else can achieve.
With spirituality for its foundation, beauty is as timeless as its source. As we progress in our understanding of God and in expressing the divine nature, undue concern for physique lessens, and the beauty inherent in our true, spiritual selfhood increasingly shines through. We're more inclined to express individuality in style and color -- individuality that is truly attractive and not so much the product of current fad.
Through a deepening understanding of man's eternal status as the beautiful likeness of God, I learned that lasting selfimprovement comes from prayer that consistently acknowledges the grandeur of man as God's noble creation. This vigorous prayer became a fountainhead of vitality. Not only did it improve my own appearance with inner regeneration, but it enabled me to appreciate beauty in others. Further, I found that such prayer can help bring about physical improvements that at one time I thought possible only through material methods. Through prayer as taught in Christian Science I have seen warts disappear, a mole removed, and facial blemishes healed.
One example of spiritual self-improvement occurred shortly after I had been healed of a serious illness through prayer. When I looked at my face in the mirror, I was astonished at its lackluster appearance. As I persisted prayerfully in expressing the beautiful qualities inherent in my true selfhood as the child of God, my skin and hair took on their normal color and liveliness in a remarkably short time.
Spiritual progress may be accompanied by self-forgetfulness but not neglect. Proper food, rest, and activity are common sense; but nothing can equal the radiance that comes from inner spiritual strength.
Through his words and works, Jesus showed mankind the glory of God's healing presence. His attraction was the Christliness that heals. The Christ still speaks to mankind with the beauty of holy purpose. Such beauty is more than skin-deep. Its roots are in God.
1Matthew 6:29, 33. 2The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 3Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 247.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. I Samuel 16:7