Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s Jesus Christ

She passed me her phone with a smirk, asking, “How old do you think I am here?”

It sounded like a dare. I looked at the formal headshot, scrutinizing it for details. Same gorgeous hair, same glowing skin, same shining eyes. It was taken last week as far as I could tell. “Twenty-five?” I guessed.

She shook her head and laughed. “Sixteen.”

My eyes widened as they bounced between her nearly-thirty face and the photo, unable to tell the difference. “How…?” I stammered.

She laughed again and shrugged. “Jesus.”

At the time, I thought my friend was being funny, but as I came to know more women of God, I realized they all had a similar story: you could tell where they’d been in their faith by how they looked in their pictures. The closer they were to Jesus, the more beautiful they were; the further away, the more worn they seemed. The condition of their flesh reflected the condition of their soul.

Of course, this isn’t to say that one should become a Jesus-follower simply for the skincare, but the evidence is pretty remarkable. You can see it in my own pictures. Same makeup, same face, different soul.

Ellie Di Julio headshot 2010
Me, circa 2010
Ellie Di Julio headshot 2018
Me, earlier this year

Hashtag age-defying. Hashtag beauty from ashes. Hashtag no condemnation. Hashtag Jesus.

This is a silly, superficial example of a deep truth: When Christ lives in us—when we love, trust, and obey him with our whole heart—his loveliness shines from our faces, transfiguring us with a holy, eternal beauty that no amount of charm or makeup can ever replicate. It’s God that makes us truly beautiful, inside and out.

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised.” (Proverbs 31:30 NLT)

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