We Are Born Beautiful – Part One
Posted by: Brittney Zellner
This morning I was talking to my daughters about our purpose here in this world. I had just reread the story of Absalom in the bible and I realized a parallel that I thought my children would really understand and could genuinely give them guidance throughout the course of their lives. In addition to that lesson, one of the most prominent of things that has stuck out to me the past few days is how truly blessed I am to live in a country with so much opportunity and I really wanted to drive that point home for them also. I think that most people believe that children and adult Americans take living in this country and all of our wonderful opportunities for granted. I am hoping to change that in them.
For part of the lesson I have to explain, I have beautiful girls. I mean, this isn’t just a biased mother’s point of view. They are told often of their physical beauty from various people in their lives, including boys! Ugh! ….and fortunately, it hasn’t gone to their heads yet. You see, I see beauty very differently than I did as a child and so it is for this reason that I want my girls to utilize these gifts they’ve been given in a balanced and purposeful way. Beauty was what I would see in a magazine but now…beauty seems to be everywhere else I never imagined. From a good-hearted granny to the Middle Eastern storeowner down the street, I look at these people and I see something in them that I didn’t see before. There’s a beauty in kindness that I feel pulled towards. There’s a beauty in patience that I admire and inspires me. There is a beauty in the silence of a wise person that I never let myself be silent enough to appreciate and envy as I do now. This is the kind of beauty that differs greatly from those visual aesthetics on television or that we catch a glimpse of in the grocery store or at the mall. While I admit some physical beauty still takes my breath away, I am saddened when I see the most beautiful woman walking demurely do the spit in disgust equivalent of an eye roll at someone who just happened to get in her way and slow down her speed for 3 seconds of her day. The once beautiful woman doesn’t look so beautiful anymore…
My children are like most. They want things, toys, electronics, to eat out, cookies and candy every day. They want to play, watch movies, and never do any work. They have dreams of being a millionaire and going on lavish vacations. This is what we are told by our society that we should want in life and it is backed up by every show we watch and as much as we try, aside from becoming hermits, there is really no way to truly avoid all of it. I’ve struggled with directing them towards the value of Torah, friendships, prayer, helping etc but no matter my efforts and their genuine efforts to conform to these righteous principles; those other “things” still tempt their desires regularly. I often feel I am in a losing battle.
I began to explain to them about how people are born physically beautiful and that it can be either a blessing or a curse depending on how they use it. I used the example of the story of Joseph and the story of Absalom. Both Joseph and Absalom were handsome men in the bible and yet one of them used his beauty for the purposes of Yah, while the other one used his beauty for his own purposes. Joseph could have taken advantage of his beauty and given into Potiphar’s wife or could have strived to get ahead in an evil way. Instead, he chose to combine his beauty with righteousness and Yah rewarded him with greater responsibility and prestige for it. Absalom, on the other hand, was known to be the most beautiful man in all of Israel. He was a prince and likely had everything he could ever want. He eventually utilized his gift in a greedy way for his own wants and desires. He became so vain and proud that he tried to become king in place of his father and his efforts only ended in death and destruction. In this lesson, they now have two very clear examples of how to act.
I want my children to be like Joseph, clearly, but I also want them to glean more from these stories than that to get an even bigger picture to help them to resist the temptations of selfish wants and desires throughout their lives. I told them, being born in America is like being born beautiful. It is not that other countries are “ugly” as many people are not “ugly” but perhaps not on the same scale as other very visually appealing people. Visually appealing people have opportunities that other not-so-visually-appealing people do not have. That may seem unfair but is apparently a scientific fact that people are naturally drawn to serve what is “beautiful” in one’s society and we are no exception. America is one of those “born beautiful countries” that has every opportunity to use its beauty for Yah or for itself. This may sound weird so let’s look at it a little differently. If you are born in America, you are born with the opportunity that many other countries do not have, like a very beautiful person, that people have trouble resisting. You can strive for and receive “things” or you can use your born-in-America-opportunity to bring more light and glory to Yah by striving to care for others who are less fortunate in our country and the world.
This parallel seemed to make a great deal of sense to the girls. They still will not admit to being physically beautiful but they will agree that we live in a country where we can accomplish almost anything our hearts desire with little effort compared to others in the world. They can either take advantage like most Americans by striving their whole lives after things they most desire and end up like handsome Absalom, dead and without inheritance orrrr….they can use the beauty of the place of their birth in America for Yah’s good and rise to positions of prestige in the kingdom by being righteous, taking care of others, and showing his glory and light through their actions like handsome Joseph.