As I wrote yesterday, there are, sadly, many women who seek attention through immodest dress. However, by the grace of God, there are also women who have chosen to glorify God by dressing modestly. The following is a letter my Dad received from one such teenager, Emily.
“I wanted to thank you for the message on modesty that you presented at my church several months ago. I have a fourteen-year-old brother who is always asking me, ‘why do the girls dress like that?’ I usually consider myself as dressing modestly. I check my clothes with my Dad and my brother before I wear them. But I had to go back, with the ‘Modesty Heart Check’ you provided for us. It has been a challenge, a means of grace for my friends and me. I have seen it hung on the mirrors of many of my friends as they exclaimed, ‘if you stick it there, there is just no way of getting around it.’ It has also been much easier to bring things to people about their clothing, or point something out to them, because they have heard the message. I have seen a lot of changes in the way some of the girls dress as a result of your message. Thank you!! Emily”
The thanks goes to you, Emily, and to every woman committed to honoring God through modest dress!
(Per request, you can download the “Modesty Heart Check,” that Emily mentioned by clicking here.)
The other night I saw a report about the trend among high school girls to request breast implant surgery as a graduation gift. It got me thinking.
Though we would not choose to walk out of our graduation ceremony and into the plastic surgeon’s office, I don’t think there is a woman alive who hasn’t wished she could change at least one perceived physical flaw. I probably think about it more than I want to admit.
When it comes right down to it, I don’t think these girls—or any of us for that matter—want a different body for it’s own sake. Rather, because of the sin in our hearts, we long to find happiness in the applause (worship) of others. We think beauty is our ticket to bliss.
But it won’t take us anywhere. Beauty doesn’t satisfy. Proverbs says that it is “fleeting” (Prov. 31:30, NIV). Charles Bridges elaborated: “Beauty—what a fading vanity it is! One fit of sickness sweeps it away. Sorrow and care wither its charms. And even while it remains, it is little connected with happiness.” (Charles Bridges, A Commentary on Proverbs (Carlisle, Pa.: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1846, repr. 1998), p. 627.)
This is why the well-meaning advice to simply “learn to love your body” doesn’t cut it. Even with supposed “Christian” packaging (“Jesus loves you just the way you are, so you should love yourself”)—it’s hollow. It’s an erroneous diagnosis. It doesn’t satiate our desperate, sinful thirst for attention. Even if it seems to for a moment, it won’t last. You might as well hand an exhausted marathon runner an empty water bottle.
But there is hope—for these high school girls and for every woman consumed by the quest for physical beauty. There is hope for me. For “[Christ] died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Cor. 5:15).
Because of the gospel, we can be free from this fruitless and rebellious search to find satisfaction in receiving admiration for our physical beauty. We can live for Christ instead. And thus our hearts can “be fixed, where true joys are to be found” (Book of Common Prayer, 1662).
So what difference should the gospel make in how we think about beauty today?
First, instead of complaining to the mirror about our imperfect body, let’s consider how we can live for Christ by trusting Him and serving others. True joy will inevitably follow.
And secondly, if we’re tempted to envy (or self-righteously judge) the beautiful, immodestly dressed co-worker, classmate, or fellow mom, for the attention they receive, let’s pray for them instead—that they too would find true joy in Christ.
(This short post only begins to address a biblical perspective on beauty. We’ll no doubt return to this topic. But if you want to read more about it, Mom has taken a closer look in our book, Girl Talk: Mother-Daughter Conversations on Biblical Womanhood.)
We hope you’ve enjoyed this first week of the Girl Talk Blog. We’ve had a blast!
Thank you to everyone who took the time to email us. Even though we have not been able to reply, we read each one, and are truly grateful for your comments.
The purpose of this post is to officially announce our blog weekend policy. And that is: no posting. We trust you understand. We have (between us) four husbands to love-on and five boys to raise into manhood; not to mention the busy joys of church life. Simply put, we’re committed to living out biblical womanhood before we write about it.
But, come Monday, we look forward to another exciting week. We already have tons of ideas about things we could post. And we’ll have at least one surprise.
So, thanks for reading. We’ll see you Monday!
Carolyn, Nicole, Kristin, and Janelle
The following email appeared in my inbox on my fiftieth birthday (a few weeks ago), from a close friend, Nancy Loftness.
It was one of the most meaningful birthday gifts I have ever received.
“As I was praying a few weeks ago thinking about your 50th, the idea came to me to spend a day fasting and praying for you…. So happy birthday with a gift I anticipate God using, not because of any merit in me obviously, but because He loves to fulfill His own promises from His word, which is mostly how I’ll pray. Love, Nancy.”
Charles Spurgeon once said: “No man can do me a truer kindness in this world than to pray for me.” Tom Carter, Spurgeon at His Best (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1991), p. 143.
Who can you show kindness to by praying for them today? (Don’t forget to tell them you’re praying!)
PS: Today is Nancy’s 50th birthday. Happy Birthday, my dear friend!
I wanted to get up early, but C.J. encouraged me to stay in bed a little longer. I had been up quite late the night before. He thought I needed a little more sleep.
By the time I arose, the demands of the day came rushing at me in rapid succession. There was breakfast to fix. Conversations to have. The unexpected phone call. Family members to shuttle from point A to point B. One interruption after another.
It was 10:00 a.m. and I still hadn’t taken a shower, much less made progress on my to-do list. I was struggling. This wasn’t the way my morning was supposed to go. I wasn’t completing the tasks I thought were most important. Peace and joy had vanished.
Then I recalled this perspective-altering thought from C.S. Lewis:
“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life—the life God is sending one day by day; what one calls one’s ‘real life’ is a phantom of one’s own imagination. This at least is what I see at moments of insight: but it’s hard to remember it all the time.”
—The Letters of C. S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves (20 December 1943), para. 5, p. 499; quoted in The Quotable Lewis, (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 1989), 335.
It is hard to remember. But what a difference it made when I called to mind this biblical truth.
All these interruptions—they weren’t interruptions after all. They were “sovereign deliveries.” These “unpleasant things” were God’s perfect plan for my day.
Contemplating this bit of wisdom brought a smile to my face. And from that moment on, I met each subsequent “interruption” with joy. The shower could wait.
My prayer is that, next time, God will help me to remember this truth. Because Mr. Lewis was right. It’s easy to forget.
“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
Had there been such a thing as weblogs in 1973, the year Mom graduated from Southeast High School, she would not have been voted “most likely to become a blogger.” Maybe it’s her Mennonite ancestry. Wonderful people, to be sure. But historically not the first group that comes to mind when you think of cutting edge technology.
Don’t get me wrong. I think my Mom is hip. You’d never guess she’s a recently-turned-fifty grandmother. But she’s not your stereotypical blogger either. I mean, if you had to pick the guilty blogger out of a police lineup, Mom is the first one you’d rule out.
This is Mom. When she got her first computer, she kept all her information in one document. Seriously. ONE file. I’m not kidding. This massive document included health records, message outlines, weekly menus, Christmas lists, journal entries—you name it. It was the prize pumpkin of all WORD documents.
To come from these humble Mennonite beginnings in rural Virginia farmland, to the virtual cusp of the information age is a momentous journey. One to be celebrated. Marveled at, really.
All this to say: if our blog doesn’t have the snappiest layout, or the wittiest posts, or the coolest pictures you’ll be patient, won’t you? This is a big step for Mom.
Plus, if you know Mom, you know she’s happiest outside of the spotlight. The idea of posting her thoughts on the WORLD WIDE web didn’t originate with her. Rather, she was prevailed upon. And she only agreed because she has a heart to serve and encourage women—even when it means leaping out of her comfort zone. Her one request was that we take the leap with her.
So think of this blog as a seat at Mom’s kitchen table.
This is where the Bible is read, issues of life discussed, questions asked, opinions shared, hearts opened up, sins confessed, and grace recognized. Here encouragement is always on tap and laughter overflows. It’s where the gospel is prized. It’s every day Titus 2.
So on behalf of Mom, Kristin, and Janelle, I want to invite you to pull up a chair and join our little chat. We’d love to have you, no matter your age or season of life. It’s our hope that you’ll have tons of fun on this new adventure with us!