The Three Graces are known in both Greek and Roman mythology as the muses of poetry, music and of course, art.
Lately, I’ve gained an intense appreciation for their numerous depictions in sculpture and on canvas.
I’ve been working on an article concerning body image; therefore, I’ve researched how beauty definitions have changed over time. This, inevitably, brought me to “The Three Graces.”.
Centuries ago, the Rubenesque body shape, defined as a voluptuous female figure, was desirable.
In the 1600’s, artist Sir Peter Paul Rubens was inspired by this fuller figure in his 1635 work, The Three Graces.
I’m sure you may have encountered the masterpiece. It features three Rubenesque women, with its center woman’s derriere prominently featured.
This painting has not only inspired me concerning body image acceptance, but also regarding spiritual matters as well.
Hang on, I haven’t lost my mind.
As I’ve studied Rubens’ painting, those three words, The Three Graces, shone brightly.
First, I’ve always loved the word Grace. It has associations with beauty, femininity and elegance. Its definition reads as such: “dignified, polite, and decent behavior; generosity of spirit: a capacity to tolerate, accommodate, or forgive people.”
Often, females are given the name. Even one of our cats is named Grace (we call her Gracie).
And, of course, scripture, is also filled with the grace word. For instance…
Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.2 Corinthians 1:2
Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace. 2 Thessalonians 2:16
And then, there’s the number three in the painting’s title. It’s not one, two, four or five. It is specifically three, three young women.
Over the years, I’ve studied this number.
It’s is all over the place in Scripture. Father, Son, Holy Ghost, three crosses, including Jesus’ at His crucifixion, three days before His victorious resurrection. And, let’s not forget, Jesus experienced this incredible feat at the age of thirty-three.
So, with grace and the number three in mind, I’ve focused on three scriptures which have been powerful to me.
Despite my interest in grace, I have not had an easy time with it.
And it’s in hindsight that I’ve seen just how my task-oriented nature not only contributed to my eating disorder mindsets, but also to my harmful spiritual perspective as well.
Rules… Commands… Legalism… And eventually, unrealistic perfectionism…
So, that grace thing was a huge stumbling block. I was thoroughly convinced it was about my perfect results and performance. That thinking eventually carried over into the development of anorexia nervosa, as I was never “thin enough.”
And, when it came to God, I thought I had to earn His love and acceptance. There was no grace, not for me, anyway.
So, years later, into my recovery and faith, I’ve gravitated toward what grace actually is. Three scriptures, in particular, have helped me.
Grace: In Spite Of…
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.Ephesians 2:8-9
First, grace is the point. It was there before me, in spite of me. That’s the entire reason for Jesus. He was what I could never be on my own when it came to my salvation. It had everything to do with God and nothing to do with any actions of mine. I couldn’t “earn” it. It’s a gift.
b>Grace: It’s Enough…
The second revelation: there’s enough grace for me.
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.2 Corinthians 9:8
With my abusive childhood, branching into my destructive eating disorder struggles, I believed an “or else” element to my place in the world. I was afraid to go “too far,” to exceed some quota and therefore, leave me vulnerable to a vengeful wrath.
Nope, God does not operate like that. His grace does not dictate we clean ourselves up and get it together (good thing). It helps us in our imperfect struggles. There is enough grace to cover EVERYTHING concerning our lives.
It is enough. Period.
>b>Grace: A Call To Action…
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16
And, lastly, grace, even though it’s “un-earnable” by us, it is not a passive word. It IS an empowering call to action.
We can summon God, at His grace, no matter what the situation or sin may be. So, again, that covers EVERYTHING.
Wherever and however we are in life, each one of us needs to get an accurate assessment of grace and apply it to our lives.
So, these three graces, more powerful than world famous art or beauty, can equip us to lives our very lives with everything God has meant for us.
The grace invitation has been sent. Will we accept it?