My wife is a beautiful woman. I knew this the first time I saw her walking down a hallway in High School. I just turned right around and followed her. She had Sun-In bleach blonde hair and a ribbon around a single ponytail in back with wings in front, and she used a lot of blue eye shadow (it was the 80’s). I have a very clear picture in my mind of this moment – this first “seeing.” But I also have other moments when I saw her for the first time again. I wish I knew how this happens so I could teach it to people, but I don’t know how to make it happen. It just happens. There is no particular pattern to it. Some times it happens a lot in a short period of time and then it may be a very long time before it happens to me again. It is always a surprise and a delight. I think it is a gift God gives me, like many of his gifts, for no good reason other than He delights to delight us. The most interesting part of this gift is that Tina never provokes it. She never poses or tries to look a certain way that triggers this gift of re-seeing. In fact, most of the time I’ve never told her about it because it was too hard to explain. So she may be reading about this for the first time along with you.
There is a kind of beauty in this world that is unguarded. It is raw and real and striking. You may not immediately recognize it because it hides in plain sight. Advertisers know this about us; that we are susceptible to capture by unguarded beauty. That’s why they try so hard to make their spots look like they just happened; that there was no real preparation and this beautiful thing or setting just popped out of the background. We know its fake though. In our true hearts we know this is not unguarded beauty – it is well fortified beauty. Beauty built from scratch and etched and carved and photoshopped. We know lies when we see them because we feel the truth when it hits us. It isn’t trying to be true or beautiful; it is true and it is beautiful. C.S. Lewis said in his famous essay The Weight of Glory that we are far too easily pleased, and he was right. We are also far too easily deceived. It is almost as if we let ourselves stop hoping for unguarded beauty because we can’t produce it ourselves. And since we can’t be in control we start to say to each other that the less than and the plastic; the faked beauty is real or it is all we are going to get so we might as well embrace it. I’ve done it myself. I do it myself. But I’m sharing my glimpses of unguarded beauty with you in hopes that you will throw off the lies and stop contenting yourself with less. I’m sharing with you so that you will share with me too. Together we may be able to live more authentically in light of our accumulated unguarded beauty. Of course this is a gift. Being able to see it at all is a gift. All of these gifts come from the greatest unguarded beauty of all, Jesus. The Bible teaches that in his light we see light. In other words Jesus is the light that shows all other light – he is the beauty that makes everything beautiful. He fell into darkness and brought us light. He was marred beyond recognition and made us beautiful. Do you realize that in Jesus we can know that God looks upon us like I look upon my wife? We don’t have to guard ourselves or pose or create; we are completely unguarded and completely beautiful to God. That is beauty unguarded and unassailable.