I put almost 700 miles on my car this weekend… Yeah, ASSLX3 was fun. It was a little overwhelming at first – I’m still so shy about asking guys to dance. Plus there were way more follows than leads, so it wasn’t just asking a guy to dance, it was getting to him before the other three girls also heading his way got there. At one point I looked around the ballroom: every guy was dancing with someone, and a whole ring of girls were sitting around the perimeter waiting their chance. Saturday night I finally got past some of my shyness, and really enjoyed the guys I danced with.
I’ve been thinking about beauty a lot lately, both in relation to dancing and because of the part I play in this movie. It’s hard for me to think of myself as beautiful. I know that I’m fairly pretty in my own way, and God thinks I’m beautiful because he loves me so much. Objectively I can look at myself and see that I have good eyes, pretty hair, etc. Really feeling beautiful, however, is something else. In the movie I play this girl, who has a guy just look at her once and say, “That one!” Maybe he falls in love with her because of the way she responds to him, but he first pursues her because of what he sees. This seems so improbable to me. I’ve never been that girl. I have no idea what this feels like. In a way trying to act it out makes me feel even less beautiful because I can’t see whatever the guy is seeing or pretending to see (he is acting, after all). Half of having beauty is the confidence that comes from feeling beautiful, so if I’m going to do this part properly, I have to feel it.
So there’s various things I’ve thought of as I’ve turned this over in my mind. First is that in our world beauty is a kind of power. Like Spiderman’s uncle said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” We have an obligation to use our power responsibly. I think this is an important part of modesty – being responsible with your beauty. To refuse to acknowledge the power is to make yourself incapable of handling it responsibly. So in the end acknowledging beauty isn’t indulging in pride or vanity, it’s an act of love for those around you because it makes you able to use your beauty wisely.
The second thing is that while perhaps I have some beauty, my worth doesn’t come from that. My worth does not come from anything I have or do, but from who I am. I am valuable, precious, and worthy of being treated with love simply because I am a daughter of God. Beauty may come and go, but that never changes. I think I’ve been losing sight of this the last several months. It’s been very good to get back in touch with a sense of my own dignity as a woman made in the image and likeness of God, for whom God’s son died.
The third thing I found that helped me so much (and this is where it relates to swing dancing) was a quote from C.S. Lewis’s book That Hideous Strength. It’s the third part of his science fiction trilogy. At one point a character reads this from an unspecified book: “The beauty of the female is the root of joy to the female as well as the male, and it is no accident that the goddess of Love is older and stronger than the god. To desire the desiring of her own beauty is the vanity of Lilith, but to desire the enjoying of her own beauty is the obedience of Eve, and to both it is in the lover that the beloved tastes her own delightfulness.”
This sums up a lot for me. I don’t want every guy who looks at me to desire me. That would be annoying and a little frightening. I would like my beauty to be enjoyed and appreciated, particularly by one man whom I don’t think I’ve met yet. I can see this in a smaller way in dancing. I don’t want every guy there to be fighting over who gets to dance with me. I would like the guys who do dance with me to really enjoy the experience. In fact, one of the biggest reasons I won’t ask certain guys to dance is that I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t enjoy dancing with me. There are some guys who have said they like dancing with me, or who I know like me enough in general to overlook my deficiencies as a dancer. These are the ones I’m willing to approach for dances. Either way, it’s their response to me that helps me feel beautiful or not beautiful in each instance. Not that they are responsible for how I feel, but it helps.
Where am I going with this? I’m not sure. God is doing something with me through this movie that I don’t really understand yet. But I’ll let you know what happens. And now you know what I’ve been thinking about…