I’m excited to welcome Abbie Smith of Unsteady Saint, author of the newly released Celibate Sex, to my site today, to share part of her book with you and offer a giveaway.
Lately, I’ve been a witness to elements of beauty in the African American culture.
Living in a transitional black neighborhood, I’m slowly learning how different we are and also how alike. Some may say that neighborhood children on one street, in one city, in one state of America aren’t a fair representation or credible instructor, but they’ve sure been making a good stand-in for me.
Tanerica came over this morning, wondering if we could read bible stories in the side yard. She’s eleven and wants to be a fashion designer. Her dad is in and out of jail, and her mom is eight months pregnant and addicted to drugs. I told her I couldn’t today but promised we would soon.
“That’s fine, Miss Abbie. Can I show you somethin’ before you leave?”
“Sure, honey. What is it?”
“A boy from my class gave it to me,” she said, pulling a wad of paper from her left pocket.
Conscientious penmanship marked the top line: “I think ur pritty.”
“Well, that was sweet of him, Tanerica. And he sure is right!” Seeing the angst and wonder caused by this wad of paper, I decided to sit with her on the porch for a bit.
“Why do you think it means so much to a girl when a boy saysshe’s pretty?” I asked. She thought for a few moments, shifting her eyes to the floor.
“Maybe cuz girls think they so ugly no boy will ever say they pritty.” Another handful of moments passed before Tanerica asked, “Does God say ur pretty, Miss Abbie?”
“He does, sweetheart, all the time. Why?”
“Because I forget, and He knows sometimes I need to be reminded about how He made me and why He thinks I’m beautiful.”
“You think God can tell me that, Miss Abbie?”
“I know He can tell you that, Tanerica. Why don’t you come over tonight and we’ll read about what God thinks.”
Women are the last mentioned in God’s created order — and arguably the most complex of His creativity, in a phenomenal sort of way. Even before the Fall, God knew that man was missing a vital aspect of health and pleasure. It was through the satisfying companionship, radiant beauty, and captivating soul of another, then, that He would put His finishing touch on the design of man.
“She shall be called Woman” (Genesis 2:23).
As from God stemmed man, so from man stemmed his cherished sister, woman. “Then the lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (verse 7). “And the rib that the lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man” (verse 22). “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (verse 25).And God found her stunning (see Song of Solomon 4:7).
It’s tempting to think we women can cause our beauty, as if beauty is something tangible or exportable. But not unlike ocean waves or a newborn baby’s finger, beauty transcends what mankind can create, do, or be alone.
All beauty flows from beauty’s Maker, God, and the only way we can alter it is by rejecting it. Yes, feeling pretty and not being in the bloated days of PMS may help, but when all is said and done, my beauty simply is. When I am me, I am beautiful, because when I am me, I am actively interacting with God’s thoughtful design of me and, thus, with an essence of God. And God is beautiful.
My image is made in the image of the Godhead and, therefore, in and of itself is beautiful.
Most days we forget this. Most days we live more in line with the world’s order than creation’s. We forget who we are, and we forget that we’re special — to God, among others. We forget that we’re sculpted by the Hands who created creativity, truth, wonder, and beauty.
We forgetthat singleness doesn’t affect our beauty or define us. Nor does marriage, engagement, or dating.
We forget that being a size (or five sizes) smaller won’t shift who we are in the eyes of our Maker. It won’t shift how much we’re treasured and sought after by the redeemer or change the deepest reality of who we are as daughters of the king. Most days we forget how beautiful we are and internalize the opposite.
But when we do remember our beauty and the beauty from which we stem, we naturally obey and submit to order’s fluidity, femininity, and strength. We naturally live out our sexuality.