I stood in the baby aisle at Target, overdue with my first child. Every inch swollen with expectancy. I read labels of diaper ointment and rubbed the foot kicking my side.

photo source

Someone stood beside me. I could feel her staring at my profile. I pointed my belly towards her and smiled. She leaned in and said the words like I took her breath away, “Oh, you’re so beautiful.”

I looked down at my too-tight shirt and tugged it over my child. I couldn’t see my feet, but I knew the flesh pressed out of my sandals.

Me? I looked around the empty aisle.

I smiled shyly, smoothing my messy hair. How I longed to hear those words and not just because I was awkward and uncomfortable. I never felt like a beautiful girl. Cute, sometimes pretty, but never beautiful.

And then she tried to sell me Mary Kay.

My face flamed. I dropped the butt paste and turned, leaving my cart and my pride in the baby aisle.

I believed the stranger for a second and then it was back to self-loathing.

I continued to pass mirrors without looking and tried to disappear in a room full of pretty people.

It was years before I believed I was beautiful. It was years before I realized beauty had nothing to do with my complexion or eyebrow shape or latest fashion.

Ralph Waldo Emerson says beauty is an outward gift, but I believe true beauty on the outside begins when we love ourselves on the inside. It is perfected when we love others more than ourselves.

“Beauty is not in the face, beauty is a light in the heart.” -Khalil Gibran

Beautiful isn’t a feeling. It’s His light in our hearts making us glow. When I started taking care of the inside, loving myself, others more, that’s when I started to feel beautiful.

I am getting older: my hair is turning gray, laugh lines (wrinkles) are evident and my once-firm body, isn’t.

But then I remember:

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:3

I watch my 12 year old daughter. She is in the discovery stage. She fixes and primps and seeks out beauty in the mirror. I pull her close at night, we read, talk, I pour into her: Beauty on the outside isn’t bad, but what are we doing to make the inside match?

I ran my fingers thru her hair the other night and ask: “Would you rather be gorgeous on the outside and just okay inside or stunning on the inside and okay on the outside?”

She said, “Can I be both?”

Source: via Angie on Pinterest

I laughed and said yes. But I gave her a challenge. One I want to offer to you:

For every minute, hour you spend primping and beautifying the outside- your hair, clothes, body, etc. I want you spend that same amount of time on the inside.

I reminded her it’s not just about doing good works: it’s putting others first, serving, encouraging and forgiving. Inner beauty comes from accepting our weaknesses and offering them to God. Beauty is seen in being genuine and spending time with God. It’s about who you are when no one is looking. It’s about fearing God.

And now I’m talking to me.

Because odds are I will wake up tomorrow and catch a glimpse in the mirror and wonder if I’m beautiful.

My answer will have nothing to do with my appearance.

Written by Kristen Welch, We are THAT family

  • Southern Gal

    Beautiful post, full of truth.

    • http://incourageme sue

      We all need to change our view of beauty. There is beauty in women pregnant with their children. There is beauty in being a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister….
      Have you ever noticed how someone can become ugly when they are mean on the inside, or how an unattractive person can become beautiful because of their beautiful personality. Change your view of beauty. The world has it all wrong.

  • Mari

    Not to worry, Kristen….YOU are beautiful!

  • Amy @ themessymiddle

    This rings true — I wrote about not having hot water and being struck by how much effort goes into cleaning my outside in “Three pots can’t clean my heart” ( Good reminder think on it again!

  • Linda

    Just what I needed this morning, as I woke up feeling worn out and washed out on the outside. Age, pounds and graying hair can do that to you. Your post reminded me of the older, wiser, grayer, and yes, even heavier, women I have known through my life who were some of the most beautiful people I have ever known… Their beauty showed through from their hearts, and it made their outward appearances positively glow! That needs to be my goal today and everyday, to let my Jesus shine through to others, and to become more like the Godly women who have added so much to my own life.

    • Carol

      Hi Linda, I can so relate! I remember a few years ago sensing the Lord saying, “Carol, if your value is based on anything you can lose, you’re on shakey ground.” Wow. I began to mentally list all the things I could lose: physical attraction, health, reputation, relationships, family, finances, job, ministry, abilities, and on and on. It was a wake up call. Was there anything I couldn’t lose? Only God. Only His opinion of me and what makes me valuable can I truly depend upon to not go away. As a surgery last year left me quite unlovely in an area, I felt the challenge strongly…am I still beautiful? With scars? Only when I went inside could I find the answer…only in the Garden of my heart where Jesus is always present. Only His love and affirmation can withstand the onslaught of expectations. And when I can’t sense His Presence, it’s His Word in Scripture that I cling to until my feelings line up (sometimes quite a process). At 58 I hope to be that sweet fragrance of Christ you saw in the older women in your life. And I have a feeling you will be as well. blessings, Carol

  • Brittnie (A Joy Renewed)

    SO true. Loved this post. Thank you for the great reminders. While beauty on the outside is great we need to focus our energies on making our insides match. :)

  • wanda

    It is so easy to fall prey to what the world says is beautiful. As a mother of girls, I’ve worked overtime to teach them outside beauty isn’t anything compared to inside. Over my long life of working in a high school and with youth teens….I’ve tried to influence both girls & guys of THEIR REAL VALUE! The messages aren’t healthy and each person seems to be seeking that love and approval from anywhere but Jesus.

    Beautiful, Kristen.

  • Eileen Jennings

    This is something I had taught my daughter also, that inner beauty was more important. She is 23 now and is beautiful inside and out. Linda I loved what you said about getting older, wiser and grayer. For a long time many other women in the church could not understand why I would not die my hair when it started to turn gray. The Bible tells us it is a sign of wisdom, how true that is for me, some might wonder but it is a sign of honor in some societies. I would like to think one day I wille exchange the silver hair for a gold crown and let His beauty grow within.

  • Patty

    I laughed when you said the lady was trying to sell you Mary Kay at Target. I could have sworn you lived in Lafayette,IN. Know a person who did this until I told her that there are risk that go along with doing that. Now I am sure she just sells to people who are beautiful on the inside and need a little help on the outside. :)!!!
    So true what you said though. Beauty on the inside is a gift from God!!

  • Heather Novak

    Kristin, YOU ARE Beautiful! I had a magnet during my first pregnancy from Motherhood Maternity that said “Yes, You are Beautiful!” Have you read “Captivating ” by John & Stasi Eldredge? It is marvelous in this arena.

  • Sarah Mae

    This is so good, Kristin.

    Thank you for this.

  • Robin Dance ~ PENSIEVE

    One of my favorites of yours, Kristen :). An important reminder and encouragement.


  • Hannah

    I was so upset about being in a pageat because I thought I wasn’t beautiful enough on the outside and my Mom said ” It dosen’t matter weather your beautiful on the outside but on the inside is what matters.”. I didn’t believe her but after I read this I truly believed her!

  • Julie Sunne

    Wonderful post, with words that need to be increasingly shared in our cultural, Kristin. I absolutely loved your wise counsel to your daughter. You did not discount her desire for outward beauty but challenged her not to make it more important than inward.

  • Anna

    Thank you, thank you, Miss Kristen. I never feel beautiful, inside and out! I have eczema, so lots of dry skin, red patches and all that other lovely stuff that comes with it :/ Then there is my inside, sin. But thanking God that he is merciful and patient! We got the new Passion Conference CD, White Flag, and these words have stuck with me:
    “Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me. Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me. Your love, Your love.”

    • Carol

      Sweet Anna,
      You are lovely, chosen, a delight to the heart of God and with purpose and destiny on your life, not in spite of your journey but because of it. Impossible? For you and me, yes. But in the Hands of the one who is infinitely more creative than us very doable, You mentioned your skin issues. May I suggest a book? God Loves Ugly by Christa Black. She struggled with self-hatred and it’s many forms, and as she recognized the lies and began to speak truth over herself, some of what she hated began to resolve, acne being one of them. We are just beginning to understand the connection between our thoughts and not just our emotions and life situations, but our bodies reactions. You are precious in His sight, Anna.
      blessings, Carol

  • SueBE

    So true. Think about the most amazing beautiful woman you know. She probably isn’t the most fashionable or the most put together. She’s the one with His joy in her heart.

  • Bubbe

    My husband and I were walking through the newly remodled JC Penneys store, just to see the changes. An older woman approached us with a big smile on her face, and asked me if the man with me was my husband. When I said yes, she turned to face him and said, “Sir, you have excellent taste in women! I can see that!” She turned to me, but continued speaking to him, ” Look at this woman you have chosen to be your wife: she is BEAUTIFUL, inside and out!! And I can see that you love her. Ohhhh, she is so beautiful!”
    With her face glowing with a smile, and her eyes sparkling, the woman turned and left us. We were silent in wonder at what had just happened.
    That was one ordinary day this winter. I am 62 and my husband is 63; we have been married for 41 years.
    I am still feeling quite beautiful (and happy!) when i remember how God used the woman blessed us that gray winter day.

    • Danielle M.

      Oh Bubbe…that gives me goosebumps!

      I KNOW this Bubbe, and I know that the woman who stopped her had eyes to see what is real and true: Bubbe IS beautiful!


  • Sharon O

    I love this so much infact I quoted you and used a few lines on my facebook giving you the credit. If we can help young ladies understand that it can be both, we can be nice looking and cute, but if our heart is in a wrong place it won’t matter. Both need to be worked on. The outside and the INSIDE.
    YES I shout this out, my own grand daughter is 12 and in 7th grade and when I think of the images she is supposed to be looking at and trying to be like it is frightening.
    We need to give the right guidane and help them with the heart attitudes that they will need for a life time. THANK YOU.

  • Kathy @ In Quiet Places

    Beauty is definitely fleeting (Prov. 31:30) says another woman who is graying but aging gracefully, I hope. There is so much more to life than focus on the outward appearance, God brings our value from the inside, and we will appreciate this more when the outside is not so young anymore.

  • Marie at the Lazy W

    Wonderful. To strive for inner beauty to match the outer, to seek that balance. But I also like that you don’t encourage women to neglect outer beauty, even if it is fleeting. Well written, beautiful message! XO

  • Lisa

    What a lovely post. And such a shame that woman hurt you without probably even meaning to. I like the idea of spending equal time on the inside as I do on the outside. Besides serving that could include my scripture study and prayers. Just so long as I’m working on my inside in some capacity or another.

  • Elizabeth C

    “Ralph Waldo Emerson says beauty is an outward gift, but I believe true beauty on the outside begins when we love ourselves on the inside. It is perfected when we love others more than ourselves.”

    This is so true! Thank you for this post – it’s exactly what the Lord led me through a few years ago, learning to love myself and believe that I am beautiful. It’s so vital to believe that we are wonderfully created by God. And yet so important to keep it in perspective – that inward beauty is still more important.

  • Jennifer

    Oh, thank you! I am not feeling very beautiful today– inside or out, and your words lead me to the Father, as I do believe He feels this about me. And I want to soak up His truth today. Oh, how I need it , always! Thank you.

  • Amy W

    Oh- Girl you speak truth!
    For far too long I dismissed my husband’s words when he would tell me I was beautiful. It was years before he shared with me how much it hurt him when I would scoff at him. Then one day- I looked in his eyes instead of scoffing and I was undone by the me I saw reflected there. I am thankful for a husband that daily tells me I’m beautiful and for a God that shows me daily how to be that real beautiful when we meet together over His Word.

  • Maria

    I am sorry to disagree with your old self and hope your new self has come around, you are beautiful!! (inside too)! thank you for sharing – I especially liked the idea of offering my weaknesses to the Lord, as opposed to hiding them, or denying them or distracting myself from them, etc. etc. Now that is not only practical but soooooo much more encouraging! God bless you for sharing the Lord!

  • Miranda

    Wow– so much truth! I was always taught the a lot of “pretty things” were taboo and now I always remember how the verse says that we shouldn’t just adorn our outer beauty, we should be beautiful on the inside too.

  • Kristin Blankenship

    “Inner beauty comes from accepting our weaknesses and offering them to God. Beauty is seen in being genuine and spending time with God. It’s about who you are when no one is looking. ”

    This is a beautiful statement! This is the beauty for which I yearn. Thank you!

  • Beth Williams

    I don’t always love the way I look. I do know that being beautiful means striving for the proverbs 31 woman–who works hard and does for others!

    Love the idea of working on the inside as much as the outside. Will give this a try.

    You are an amazing writer and women inspirer!

  • charis

    this is the first year that i have started to notice lines on my face that don’t go away. i am learning now all over again exactly what you were talking about – beauty overflows from the inside.

    it also sure helps to not look at all those dumb magazines that try to sell us on an image of beauty we can never obtain.

    my recent post: amazing asian chicken salad

  • http://NormaMckinney Norma

    Thanks for reminding of Gods love and care for me. Beautiful does come from the inside. Please thank your husband when he tells you,” you are beautiful.” Wish I could hear that one more time.Mine went to heaven 2 years ago today and I miss him so. He always told me how good I looked so don’t take it for granted.

  • JHollyhock (aka Jennifer)

    I love you, I love your blog and I love this. Thank you my BEAUTIFUL Sister!

  • Larissa S

    This is what I needed today. I am struggling with my own perception of myself these days. I look in the mirror and I don’t see what everyone else sees. I see all the work I need to do, I see the incomplete person.

    But this…this is what I need to remind myself of and rest in. For the thoughts will be too loud and drown out the quiet voice that calls me beautiful.

    Thank you.

  • desiree

    You are beautiful, and always have been in Jesus eyes :)

  • Kaitlin @ Perceptions & Passions

    LOVE this!! I am about 8 months pregnant myself and my receptionist at work sweetly says every Monday (after I’ve obviously gained like 30 inches and 30 lbs—well, I feel like it anyways) “You’re just getting cuter and cuter!”

    It’s our little inside joke because the FIRST Monday that I had really “popped” she said “Kaitlin! You just keep getting…(*my face must have dropped right here*) cuter and cuter!!”

    I laughed and joked, “Thank you for editing that sentence!”

    I always thought it was weird that now as a married Christian woman of one and one on the way, I am approached by men probably 10:1 during my single life.

    My husband says it’s because I am the most beautiful mother and wife in the whole world and that’s what makes me beautiful.

    I’ll take it. :)

  • Kaitlin @ Perceptions & Passions

    P.S. I’ll take my husband’s compliment…not the random strangers hitting on a married pregnant woman (SERIOUSLY?!)

  • Amy

    I remember when I was pregnant and I had just stopped fitting into my regular jeans (they were leaving red marks where the seams were for hours after i took them off…literally) and had just had to go buy my first pair of maternity jeans (ill fitting and unflattering of course). I came home nearly devastated and feeling unattractive. My husband looked at me, smacked me on the behind, and told me he was glad I had put on some weight because I had some nice curves. Blushing, all thoughts of being a beluga whale left my head. :)

  • Nancy

    Kristen, I smiled when I started reading your post. You, see I’m a Mary Kay Consultant, and I could hear your weariness of being looked as with what you perceived as dollar signs. The best Consultants are those who are truly genuine about their compliments, and does who want to touch lives with their businesses. I agree with you that beauty starts on the inside; the hard look of who we were in the flesh and the acceptance of who we are in Christ. There’s freedom in focusing on the inside. What is inside can flow out to make the world a more beautiful place. Thank you for your honesty and wisdom beautiful sister!

  • Alison

    My heart sank when I read she was trying to sell you Mary Kay. I have a similar experience but it was with an acquaintance. I was probably 18 and didn’t have many close friends probably because I spent so much time on school. I didn’t feel very good about myself because of it and thought maybe people didn’t like me because of looks or something else wrong with me. Well, a girlfriend that I didn’t know very personally asked me to come to her house for dinner and to hang out. I was thrilled! When I showed up, she tried to sell me Amway. I was devastated and had a panic attack as I walked out the doors. I can’t believe people do that to other people and all to make some money.

  • Ashley Urke | Domestic Fashionista

    Thank you for this beautiful post! I very often struggle with this issue and was very convicted to be reminded that I need to be focusing just as much on my inner beauty. It is so easy to get caught up in the world’s view of beauty and forget that our beauty and worth come from the Lord.

  • Pingback: Some #inRL thoughts… | DutchBeingMe()

  • G-mom

    Thank you for putting me back in focus! God bless you!

  • Dominica

    Thank You, so much.