Of course, the big news this week has nothing to do with Syria or the NHS. It’s this: Liz Jones (columnist), has ‘finally got the face I’ve always deserved’. A bargain too, at only £13,145 (and yes, that’s a comma in the middle, not a dot).
Here’s what she got for her money:
Excess under-eye fat cut away and skin tightened
Light treatment on cheeks and nose
Three syringes of ‘filler’ to plump up mouth
Own blood injected in skin to stimulate rejuvenation
Face and eye-lift.
I like Liz Jones. Like most of us she’s relentlessly self-centred, but her writing is honest and often brave. Saying this, when we start talking about the beauty we ‘deserve’, we’re making some dangerous claims. For starters, Elle Macpherson must spend her evenings rescuing dolphins and plugging the hole in the ozone layer. ET on the other hand, has to be a full-time child catcher. Or at least have his sticky digits in the pick n mix, without paying.
What does ‘deserving’ behaviour look like? Is it moral? Or physical? Doing your recycling? Staying out of the sun? Having the ‘right’ parents? And what is beauty? A carbon copy of every other A-list celebrity? A kind nature? A life dedicated to looking after others? A love of Jesus?
From a Christian perspective, we haven’t a leg to stand on. Scripture tells us that ‘the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?’ As anyone who’s ever spent an evening bawling into her merlot after a bad haircut/conversation/meeting/week of potty training, it doesn’t take a lot to pull the rug under our feet and show us that our hearts aren’t deep-rooted Oaks able to weather all storms. I think I understand myself. I think I’ve got my priorities straight. But it only takes one bad day to send me screaming to the hairdresser for a pick-me-up. It’s my heart that needs fixing, but my face seems like the easier option.
Even if, as a Christian, I dismiss external beauty as being a little shallow, I’m still tempted to think about inner beauty in terms of ‘just deserts’. I’ve helped at crèche twice this week, I’m still ploughing through Jeremiah, I’ve given up coffee for lent. Man, I’m hot.
The reality is that I can’t make myself beautiful – inside or out. And if the outside is going to reflect what I deserve, then I won’t ever leave the house. But I am beautiful – and it’s cost a lot more than a few grand and a night at the Hilton. I’m beautiful in Christ. It cost Him his life. But to Him, it was worth it. For me, and those who trust in Him, we get the face – and the heart – that He deserves.