My three-year-old spontaneously said this to me yesterday when I walked into the room, and I must admit, it was a little ridiculous how good it made me feel (especially considering I didn't even have any makeup on yet). Those words have a lot of power, and I'd say that little boy learned this very quickly when I grabbed him in a hug and gushed about how sweet and kind he was. Then later, as I was still reveling in my son's compliment (clearly Words of Affirmation is one of my love languages), I started to wonder what exactly prompted him to say that. What was it that made him look at me and tell me he thought I was beautiful? What does "beautiful" even mean to him? Will he think his mom is beautiful 15 years from now? What is his standard of beauty? I thought about these two little boys I have and realized that there are some things I want them to learn about beauty, things I want to teach them with my words and my actions, and these are those things...
There are so many beautiful things in this world; people, things, places, animals, nature. There is so much to appreciate and enjoy and take delight in. It's good to look around and soak up the beauty, to be in awe of a multi-colored sunset or a clear blue ocean. It's good to look at your mom or your future wife or your friends and see their attractiveness and appreciate their beauty (and appreciating it out loud gets you more points, of course). If you are able to one day drive a car that you love (which probably won't be one that your parents have bought you), it's good to take care of it, to admire it, to be proud of it. Beauty is a good thing, but don't worship it. Appreciate beauty. Be thankful for beautiful things, beautiful people, this beautiful world, and acknowledge the magnitude of it all.
2. Beauty can be deceiving, so guard your heart.
Beauty is a good thing, but just like everything else in life, it can be used in bad ways. Sometimes the flashier something is on the outside, the less substance it may have on the inside. Sometimes the outside is compensating for a lack of something inside. Remember that spinning, flashing, noisy, spastic toy you got from the quarter machine and how quickly it broke (and surprisingly, I had nothing to do with its breaking)? Sometimes the lights and the noise and the flashiness (or in a few years: the makeup, the sexy clothes, the vulgar actions or words) are designed to draw you in, to make you want what you see, to entice you and take something from you; whether it's your money, your attention, your innocence, or your love and affection. This kind of beauty is sometimes a trap, like a mask hiding something dangerous and undesirable. Sometimes beautiful things can and will hurt you. So be careful when it comes to beauty. Be careful that you don't allow your appreciation and admiration of beauty to consume your thoughts and your actions and cause you to make decisions that are unwise and harmful.
3. Beauty is more than looks, so look deeper.
Beauty can be dangerous, but if you understand beauty for what it really is and ought to be, this may keep you safe. There are lots of cliche statements that make this point: "Beauty is more than skin deep." "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." Or your dad's personal favorite, "If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life, never make a pretty woman your wife" (which I am obviously offended by). Ultimately, real beauty is grounded in God and is meant to be a reflection of His character, so beauty is not just an external thing but an internal one as well. Look beneath the surface of those pretty girls you'll go to school with. Look beyond the brands of clothing people wear, the social status and level of desirability someone possesses, the external attractiveness of what you see. Beauty can be found in an honest, loyal, considerate, compassionate heart. Integrity and kindness and gentleness are beautiful. Wisdom, intelligence, contentedness, confidence, self-control, peacefulness, selflessness... you can't really see these things with your eyes, but they are so beautiful. Physical beauty is not bad (as I've already mentioned), but I hope that you will also see a depth to beauty that protects you from its deceptive charms and allows you to see it even where most people cannot.
I'm an imperfect teacher and need to be reminded of these things myself, but I will be a happy mom if my children learn and accept and practice these truths about beauty. In the meantime, they can just keep calling me beautiful whenever their little hearts desire.