Authentic Beauty: The Shaping of a Set-Apart Young Woman
By Leslie Ludy (Multnomah Books, 2007)
Reading “Authentic Beauty: The Shaping of a Set-Apart Young Woman” by Leslie Ludy, reminded me of my all-time favorite C.S. Lewis quote:
“If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased!”
Why does Ludy’s book remind me of this quote? Because it’s like it sends the girl in the slums glossy postcards with pictures of a white sandy beach and teal waters, and invites her to come.
I must admit that I was expecting far less. I find most books on purity, modesty and biblical womanhood frightfully dreary. Not because they get the “what to do or not do” answer wrong, but because they fail to capture the heart with the beauty of the “why.”
In other words, a girl is warned that it’s not a good idea to play in the mud in the slums or get filth under her nails. (Which is undoubtedly true.) But what is missing from the admonition is a better, more attractive option. An alternate vision for something that will bring her more joy and satisfaction than the mud pies the other girls are playing with.
What today’s young women need is a vision of womanhood that is irresistible – One that is so real, so true, so pure, so lovely, and so promising, that their hearts are captivated. Only then will they have the resolve to reject our culture’s cheap, sitcom-sewer Sex & the City ideal.
Ludy encourages teens to dress modestly, to guard their purity, to be careful about what they see and do, to refrain from giving their hearts or bodies away too soon…. Stuff that you’d expect in a book for young women. But where the book really shines is the “why.”
“Why?”…. is not to protect against promiscuity, sexual disease, abuse, heartache, or even to give the girl a chance of finding a better guy or having a better marriage (though all of these are benefits). The compelling reason is that the romance her heart truly desires – the one to which all earthly hopes , yearnings and longings point – is the romance she can experience with her true prince, Jesus. The lover and redeemer of her soul. Ludy says,
So many of us, though we claim to know Jesus Christ, are still longing for our deepest desire to be fulfilled by someone else. We frantically seek the man of our dreams, giving ourselves completely to one relationship after the next, hoping that when we finally find the right guy our romantic fantasies will become reality.
“Jesus Christ is your true Prince,” I often say to young women, “the One who gave His very life just to be with you, the One who can resue you from the dungeon you are in, the One who can transform you into a radiant princess, the One who can carry you away to His beautiful land to cherish your forever. He is the only One who can meet your deepest longings; He is the only One worthy of your entire heart, life, soul, and body – all you are and all you have. Jesus Christ is the Prince you should passionately pursue with all your heart.”
In a culture that mocks our longing for tender romance, in a world where fairy tales never seem to come true – do young women dare hope for more? For every young woman asking that question, this book is an invitation to begin a never-ending love story with the Prince of her dreams. According to Ludy, Authentic Beauty is living a life fully set- apart for Him.
Â© Mary A. Kassian
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