Aesthetic beauty. When I first heard the term, I was intrigued. To be honest, I didn’t know what aesthetic meant. But because I’m a big fan of beautiful things, I had to find out.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, aesthetic is “concerned with beauty or the appreciation of beauty.” The Cambridge Dictionarydefines it this way: “Relating to the enjoyment or study of beauty.” Or, as it was first explained to me, it’s “beauty for beauty’s sake.”
I don’t have any problem in stopping to smell the roses because when I do, I usually have a camera in hand. I love taking photographs of God’s amazing handiwork. Beauty is everywhere—if we have eyes to see.
Sadly though, much of the world has a warped sense of what beauty is—the sexualization of women being the most tragic. My goal is to point people to the purity of beauty and enable others to see beauty through God’s eyes. One way to do this is to recognize the benefits of beauty. Here are six of those benefits.
beauty slows us down
True beauty causes us to slow our pace, linger, and enjoy the moment we are in. When beauty stops us in our tracks, that’s a heaven-come-to-Earth God moment.
In the fast-paced society we live in, we miss a lot if we don’t purposefully slow down and notice what’s around us. When God tells us in Psalm 46:10 to “be still, and know that I am God,” the two words “be still” mean to cease striving or flat out stop. At the exact moment I completed that last sentence and paused to look out the window, I saw a white-tailed deer having an afternoon snack. It’s that easy to miss—or notice—aesthetic beauty.
By slowing down to notice the beauty all around us, our appreciation for God’s creation grows: we become more grateful and content, and we realize there’s far more to living than just being absorbed in our own lives. Practice slowing down to take in the beauty all around.
beauty soothes the soul
When I’m stressed, my first line of defense is to take in some aesthetic beauty. If possible, I go outdoors. But if walls surround me, I find beauty there. When our family moved, I purposefully decorated our new home aesthetically so that I would always be surrounded by “beauty for beauty’s sake.”
I am by no means a professional photographer, but I do find capturing beauty to be therapeutic. Concentrating my attention on something beautiful is soothing to my soul. Others may find other activities soothing, such as drawing, painting, or simply viewing something beautiful and taking the time to truly appreciate it.
One act of creation can easily inspire another. Beauty causes us to rise up and do more and be more. When I read a beautiful piece of literature, I am inspired to create my own masterpiece of words. When I see colorful flowers, I am inspired to plant my own, even though I don’t have a green thumb and have been known to kill a cactus! (Seriously, how do you kill a cactus?)
When we allow beauty to inspire us, we become like our Creator. We are, after all, made in His image. Beauty begets beauty when we see God’s hand in it and choose to respond accordingly.
beauty is our true north
Because we are created in the image of God, we are naturally drawn to the beauty He has created for us. Beauty is eternally in our hearts. It’s our genuine place of being. Without beauty, we are lost.
Beauty brings peace and contentment—an “at-home” feeling, which is likely why so many people head to the mountains or the beach for vacation. It’s like we’re in our true element when we’re surrounded by such immense beauty. It just feels so natural, so right. That’s because beauty is our true north.
beauty draws us closer
When we see something of beauty, we tend to move closer to it. We want to see more, know more, and experience more. Beauty sparks our curiosity, and godly beauty always draws us closer to the Creator.
Jonathan Edwards, an eighteenth-century theologian and philosopher, was well known for his work on the formations of beauty. He believed the natural world was evidence of God’s purposeful and masterful design. Many of Edwards’s writings emphasize the beauty of God and the role of aesthetics in our spiritual lives.
When we draw closer to the beauty around us, a whole new world opens up to us: Revelation. Insight. Wisdom. Breakthroughs. There’s so much waiting to be discovered as we draw close to beauty.
beauty is essential
The fact is that we need beauty in our lives. The Garden of Eden was the prototype of what God had in mind for us. Eden was His original template, but humanity’s sin ruined that. As a result, beauty is now mixed with ugliness. It’s been corrupted in the worst of ways. But thankfully, because God knows beauty is essential, He has made sure we all have access to true beauty, His beauty.
Beauty is who God is. It’s His very essence, His character. If we miss beauty, we miss Him. Pure beauty is a gift from our heavenly Father, who isbeauty. With the proper perspective, when we see pure beauty, we see the Father. We see the Creator, the One who “saw that it was good” (Genesis 1) and so generously shared all that is beautiful with us. And for that, we can give thanks every day as we recognize and appreciate the beauty all around us.
Tammy Darling is the author of 1,400 published articles and three books. She writes from her home in rural Pennsylvania, where she is grateful to be surrounded by beauty.