On page 15, I noticed a Scripture that I had underlined. It was 1 Samuel 16:7 - "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."
I suddenly was transported back to the first time I ever saw this Scripture. I actually don't remember many of the details around my discovery of this Scripture, or how I even came across it. But I do remember how I felt the first time I read those words. It was actually many years before I did the Cynthia Heald study. Indeed, I know exactly when it was, because I marked it in my Bible: February 22nd, 1991.
I was a 21-year old college Senior, and like many women in America, I had spent a number of years battling body image issues, trying to live up to impossible beauty standards, and often struggling with the feeling that my value was directly and inexorably tied to how I looked.
So when I read these words in Holy Scripture - man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart - it was just one of those moments when I knew - I just knew - that I had encountered great Truth. Furthermore, it affirmed all of the things that I had theretofore come to know and understand about God's character - His goodness, His compassion, and His unfailing ability to fly in the face of all of the lies the world loves to tell us. Your only value is in your appearance? Nonsense, says God. You're only as good as you are beautiful? Rubbish, says God. You gotta look just like the girl on the cover of that magazine? A heaping, stinking pile of lies, says God.
Now, don't get me wrong...I'm as much a girly-girl as the next girl. I've got big love for hair, makeup, shopping, clothes, shoes, jewelry, purses, pedi's, mani's - you name it. And I don't see anything wrong with any of that. It's all a blast, and for me, one of the most fun parts about being a woman. But in our aesthetically-obsessed culture, in which the impossible goal of physical perfection is the stated ideal, and qualities such as character, kindness, morality, and selflessness are often deemed unimportant, I rest in the knowledge that the Sovereign God says that what He cares about the most is our hearts.
Thanks be to God for His bold, life-changing, audacious words of Truth!