Book Spotlight | Looking for Lovely by Annie Downs

LookingForLovelySo I take my nail polish situation pretty seriously, which may sound silly to you. I’m okay with that. But that’s the thing about looking for lovely around you—what you find beautiful may not be what I find beautiful. The moments you collect that will help you finish the thing you’ve started may not be moments that matter to me.

Oh the beauty of being humans who are allowed to be creatively different, yes?

So I paint my nails. Depending on my mood, the weather, the season and the event, sometimes it is the new gel shellac situation that can last for a few weeks. But at the rate I like to change colors, gel is usually reserved for international trips or weddings. I’m about half-and-half getting my nails painted at the salon versus painting them myself at home. My personal nail polish collection has grown significantly as people have gifted me lots of bottles, many of them containing glitter, which clearly is a joy to my heart. So I love laying all the shades out and picking the one that is right for the moment and right for the day. (Yes, sometimes I can change daily. I’m so annoying like that.)

Winter brings shades of chestnut and mocha, a personal favorite color being You Don’t Know Jacque from OPI. In autumn, I love a good gray or a mauve, like my grandmother used to wear. In spring, I prefer the light pinks, light gray with sparkles, or Easter egg colors. And summer? It has become my favorite. Brights. Hot pink. White. Orange. Anything that screams, “Beach! Laughter!”

First Peter 3:3–4 speaks of not focusing too much on your outward appearance. It was a warning, at the time, to the women of Israel to not become like the Egyptian women and spend hours focused on outer beauty. Instead, Peter says, spend time on who you are on the inside.

I used to not like these verses. (Am I allowed to say that?) It didn’t resonate with me because I thought about all the time I spent in church and all the time I spent trying to be the “right person,” but I never felt like I had a gentle spirit. I continued to hate my body. But what I have learned of late is that when I focused on the inside, the outside changed, too. The focus isn’t on clocking time with God just for the sake of checking off your daily responsibilities. “Did I pray today? Did I read my Bible? Did I journal? Okay, then I’m good!” I tried that for a long time. I thought that was building my strength. But it wasn’t. When I am doing the hard work of healing for my soul, when I am letting God dig down into the hurt places and expose them and heal them, my body responds with health as well. But when my inside is neglected and hurting, it shows in my hands and in my eyes. Not in the crow’s feet, but in the sadness that can’t be denied when someone looks right at me. I am never quiet (if I’m awake), but my spirit can be quiet. My heart can be at rest. And my painted nails will prove that to you.

What in your life paints the picture of the health of your soul? You know those verses I used to not love? Well, 1 Peter 3:3 tells us what beauty should not consist of, but is quickly followed by verse four telling us that beauty, “…should consist of what is inside the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit.” I love how Scripture leaves us with this true beauty that will last forever. It doesn’t mean I’m going to stop painting my nails or working out or brushing my hair—all activities that make me feel good about myself and help me see lovely. It just means that I notice those things for what they are, put them in their appropriate spot behind the focus of a healthy soul and spirit, and continue to run toward that health.

Excerpted with permission from Looking for Lovely by Annie Downs

Annie Downs, author of Looking For Lovely (April 5, 2016, B&H Books), is also a speaker and blogger based in Nashville, Tennessee. Flawed, but funny, she uses her writing to highlight the everyday goodness of a real and present God. An author of three previous books—Let's All Be Brave, Perfectly Unique, and Speak Love, Annie also loves traveling around the country speaking to young women, college students and adults. Annie is a huge fan of bands with banjos, glitter, her community of friends, boiled peanuts, and football games. Read more at anniefdowns.com.