Some of us spend a lot of time at the hairdresser, making sure our locks are locked, braided, straightened, weaved, curled, or extended – not to mention colored, streaked, highlighted, or otherwise anointed by the magical goddess we pay even if we can’t pay for anything else.
We also pay the nail goddess to soak, scrape, cut, carve, shave, wax, paint, glue, gloss, gel, clip our finger nails, feet, chins, brows, upper lips, legs, and extraneous places just in order to polish our appearance.
We also worship the gym god – lifting weights, running like hamsters on a treadmill, crowding the Zumba classes, gazing up during simulated rope climbs, jumping off steps, spinning soulfully, walking, dancing and sweating in 105 degrees of Bikram yoga to carve ourselves into more magnificent beings.
We watch our diets – foregoing cookies, cupcakes, candy, cokes, and chips – and for those of us who are really religious – we eat only lean protein, green vegetables, oatmeal, brown rice and sweet potatoes. We patrol our portions, pieces and pounds – measuring on digitized food scales, planting apps on iPads and iPhones and other electronic wizardry to ensure that everything adds up – from the oz. of water carefully counted, the step diligently taken – to the minute of sleep that we spend each night on beauty. But the best beauty treatment has nothing to do with these things.
The best beauty treatment is intangible and invisible to the flesh but it heals our imperfections, smoothes our wrinkles, brightens our eyes, thickens our hair, reddens our cheeks, clears our complexions, washes away our cellulite, flushes our toxins, and releases extra weight. The best beauty treatment ever is simple: it is the love that we fill our minds with, bless our souls with, and surround our hearts with. The best beauty secret ever is a love that transcends flesh and form, igniting every aspect of our being with the light of Spirit.
Do you remember in whose image and likeness you are made? Do you know who loves you with an everlasting love? John said that “God is love” and “[w]hoever does not love does not know God” (1 John 4:8)(NIV). The biblical witness teaches us that “[w]hoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them” (1 John 4:16). But we never really try to put these words into practice. We never really see these scriptures as more than poetic frippery for the pious self-righteousness. But realizing that God lives in us and we live in God is our connection to the love inside of us so that what’s on the inside (our consciousness) can cover what’s on the outside.
We cannot love anyone unless we first love ourselves, and when we love ourselves the light of that love fills the room and others can see it and feel it and be uplifted in it whether they realize it or not. We bask in the glow of the beauty of our love, and it fills all of our ornery cracks with smooth surfaces and our rough edges with real honesty, real compassion, and real beauty.
Most of the time we spend at the hairdresser, at the manicurist, at the gym and many of the other places where we worship the beauty god, we are not tapping and turning on the true beauty secret of love.
Instead, we are hardening ourselves, aging ourselves, plaguing ourselves with hate. We are judging how long and thick someone else’s hair is, whether it’s a weave or real. We are comparing someone else’s girth to our own – their speed, their flexibility, their stamina – and even their strength. We want so badly for men to accept us as the queens that we are – that we condemn others, knock them, belittle them, and begrudge them their true self-worth because we don’t know our own.
Our beauty treatment starts with a love so strong on the inside that it washes away insecurity, washes away hopelessness, washes away fear and gives an instant makeover of dynamic new energy, amazing creativity and divine strength that is magnetizing and miraculous – defying age and attracting the right loving supportive people onto our path. This is a beauty treatment that cannot be bought over the counter, scraped by a dermatologist, blasted by an aesthetician, or revitalized with a makeup potion. All we have to do is love ourselves deeply and profoundly — without worrying about what anyone else thinks.
We need to stop wherever we are and whatever we are doing — here and now and love ourselves completely and unconditionally, really close our eyes and see the flow of our love filling every cell and atom and muscle and bone of our body — from top to bottom. We need to love our flat feet, our big hips, our wide behinds, our freckled noses, our small hands, our full bellies, our squinty eyes – the things that make us different and the things that make us alike.
We’ve been looking for love in all the wrong places. Whether we are with someone or not – real love, true love, undivided, spectacular, awesome, wholesome love starts with us loving ourselves unconditionally. When we love ourselves deep down on the inside – the fears, the shadows, the doubts subside and the pure potential of our true purpose glows on the outside. We have to spend as much time as we spend at the beauty salon and the manicurist and the mall looking inside ourselves and saying “I love you. I am here for you. I support you. There is nothing that you cannot accomplish with the love I have for you. My love is everlasting, and it will not change. My love will never falter or subside. I love you from the bottom of your feet to the top of your head. I love with a soul that only knows eternity and with a spirit that goes before you to smooth the way for your passage.”
We want to make love with the man or woman of our dreams and be worshipped as beautiful and sexy and smart. We want our spouses, our lovers, our partners to love us more than we spend time loving ourselves. But someone else’s love will never be as good as the love that we have for ourselves.
We’ve done the do – allowed our better judgment to be seduced by what looks and sounds and smells good. We’ve entered the flesh – been entered, dared and swung around a few poles of foolishness just to please or be pleased. But have we ever really taken the time to visit the real love, the true love, the one and only love – the Kingdom of God in us? Have we ever taken the time to say “God, I know you are in there and I love you. I love how you shaped and formed my body so that I could move and create and exist and taste and smell the beautiful universe of this right time and extraordinary place that you have blessed me with. Oh Kingdom of God in me, I am glad that you allowed me to be – that you created me and recognized me and gave me every power that you have. Oh Kingdom within me, I see you penetrating every cell and bone of my body with your love and I know that love of me. Your loves heals me, protects me, satisfies me, uplifts me, delivers me, provides nothing but good for me. Oh Kingdom within me, you are beautiful and glorious and awesome, and I am grateful that you shine as me.”
When we take the time to love ourselves, the power within us soars and the beauty within us glows even more magnificently. When we really love ourselves, people comment on how beautiful we look, are drawn to our unique energy, ask us if we are going out, wonder what’s going on in our lives, want to follow our aura, feel the impenetrable power of God’s love radiating as us. This is the best beauty secret ever. It will charm any woman or man. But more importantly, it will guide us and shape us and mold us into the incredible beings that we are – so much more in the Spirit than we could ever imagine in the flesh.
Cecilia B. Loving is Pastor of SPIRITMUV, which holds its services each Sunday, at 2:30 PM, at the Unity Center of NYC, 213 West 58th Street.