Sunday, December 23, 2012

Freedom from Beauty: Day 22

Twenty-two days has gone surprisingly quick. Christmas is almost here and though my fast is coming to a close, the lessons I've learned from it will always remain. Most of what I learned was revealed within the first few days and has already been shared on this blog, but here are a few other things:
  • What we do matters. I think all to often we justify this and tell ourselves that it doesn't matter, no one is paying attention, people shouldn't judge us anyway, and so we can do what we want. This is simply just not the truth. I think of my daughter who is watching absolutely everything I do. She is watching everyone around her and taking it all in. I'll notice her imitating things I didn't even realize she saw, much less understood. She's like a sponge. She's been stealing my make-up and proudly trying to put it on herself since she was a year old. How she knew that the eye shadow was to be applied near the eyes is beyond me. If I'm doing it, she likely will be as well. I don't care if she wears make-up when she's older. I do care if she thinks that she is only beautiful with it on and if she draws value and worth from it. That's not the message I want to send her or anyone else who might be watching what I do and how I act.
  • There's more about this issue than can be learned in twenty-something days. It would be a shame to just get through these days and then shut my mind and heart off to anything else God may choose to reveal to me at another time. I want to always be open and listening to what the Lord might be speaking to me. 
  • It's helpful to have accountability and someone nearby to encourage you when things get a little tough. My husband and sister had to remind me why I was doing this whenever I began to lose focus or get frustrated at the situation. They have also been helpful in choosing modesty by letting me know if something wasn't very appropriate to wear. This is helpful since my radar isn't very refined or objective in that area and I'll likely need some extra guidance and insight into the subject for a while. 
  • Whenever there's doubt, it's always a good idea to seek God and godly counsel. He wants us to learn and grow, but if we don't seek Him in our endeavors, how can we expect to be growing in Him? If I just cut out make-up and switched up my clothes for a while and didn't seek God during this time, of what value would it really be? But, if I commit that time to seeking Gods heart in a particular issue, He delights in showing me His truths. 
I'll continue to seek God in all things and to make sure He is first in my life. That certainly includes these areas of beauty and modesty. I'll try and be a good steward of how I spend the time He's given me each day. I'm thankful for all He's shown me thus far and am looking forward to applying those things and letting Him transform my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Freedom from Beauty: Day 9

There's one fairly predictable, but nonetheless beneficial, plus side to not wearing make-up or getting all dolled up before leaving to go somewhere. I have so much more time. I was never one to put loads of make-up on every day and usually I would just darken my eyebrows, but there were still a good amount of days which I would apply more make-up, take the extra time to fix my hair, and try outfit after outfit on. 

Well, now I can get ready in a lot less time. And lets be honest, we could all use more time. Unless God stops the clock again as in the days of Joshua 10, the day will always be 24 hours long. What you spend your time doing says a lot about who you are and what you value. The time I've saved by not putting on make-up or fretting over clothing and hair has been spent with God in quiet time or spent with my family. I can't think of anything better to spend my time doing.  

So, here are some of my thoughts about the whole make-up thing:
  • If you don't have time to do those things which matter most to you, but do have time to spend making yourself up, then you need to think about re-prioritizing
  • I, for one, can't think of much else more vain than putting on make-up. It doesn't even last one day (at least not in my case). There's no good excuse for the amount of time spent in front of a mirror. It isn't an investment and it doesn't last but must be continually re-applied. It can cause discontentment and stress when seen without it on (see below) and takes away valuable time. 
  • If make-up is causing unnecessary stress, you need a make-up cleanse. Give it up for a time, or even forever minus those special occasions. How do you know when it's causing unnecessary stress? If you can't go swimming, can't cry, or can't be seem without it on, that's when. You don't need to have that split second of fear while driving somewhere thinking, "Wait, did I forget to fix my eyebrows?!". 
Oh, and one more thing that's noteworthy. This past weekend my husbands family all got together to take family photos to send out on his parents Christmas cards. My mother in law printed 80 cards to send out. So, on top of the entire immediate family all seeing me make-up free, there will be approximately 80 households seeing my make-up free face on their Christmas cards. And you know what, no one is going to care, and what's even better is that I don't have to, either. That makes me smile. :)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Do You Know Him?

Do you know Christ, I mean really, really know Him? Intimately, passionately, scripturally?  

Do you find it difficult to commit yourself to Christ and endure through the trials and tribulations of life? Is it difficult for you to trust this Man whom you worship in church, but sometimes struggle to find Him in the day to day? 

I spent some time this morning reading in 2 Timothy. Paul is writing his final words to Timothy. Paul knows his earthly death is soon and that he would be executed shortly thereafter. What is it about Christ that causes a man to give up his life for Him? To endure, even with death looking you in the eye? How can someone be that persuaded and faithful?

Well, in 2 Timothy we get an insight to these matters as Paul exhorts Timothy to follow in his footsteps confidently. Paul is basically telling Timothy that he, too, may be called to give up his life for Christ, and to do so with faith, hope, and joy. Paul then shares one reason that he endures all kinds of sufferings, even to the point of death. 

"For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day."
~2 Timothy 1:12~

For I know whom I have believed...Wow. If you find yourself struggling to endure, ashamed of the Gospel, unable to understand the sufferings that you go through, then maybe it's time you really get to know that Man that you say you trust in. I'm convinced that the more we seek and find Him, the more astonished we would find ourselves. He was not just a man. He was the savior of the world. He didn't just die. He arose from death. Angels bow down to Him, demons fear Him; we would be smart to do likewise. 

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!"
~Matthew 7:21-23~

We can know about God, we can even call upon His mighty name and work miracles through Him, but it won't mean anything unless we really know Him. Even the demons know Jesus:

"And the evil spirit answered and said, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you."
~Acts 19:15~

Knowing Jesus' name and knowing Him personally are different, and, as seen in Acts 19, the demons recognized that as well when sons of a Jewish chief priest and Jewish exorcists tried using the name of Christ to banish evil spirits, and the spirits saw right through it. They knew these people didn't know Jesus themselves, they only knew His name was power and they wanted to use it.  

So, how can we be sure we know Him? The Bible says that when we seek Him with all our hearts, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13-14). The apostle John says in 1 John the following:

"Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, 'I know Him', and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked."
~1 John 2:3-6~

Seek God. Read His word. Pray. Obey His commands. He is faithful and when we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us (James 4:8). While we seek to know Him more fully, let us remember and take comfort in how He knows us. 

"Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: 'The Lord knows those who are His', and, 'Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.'"
~2 Timothy 2:19~

How we know God is not to even be compared to how God knows us, but we trust even the more so because of that. The following verse sums it up pretty well for me. 

"When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."
~1 Corinthians 13:11-13~


I sometimes find it helpful and more meaningful when I learn the root words and meanings in the original languages of the Scripture. If you are interested in going a little deeper on your own, refer to Blue Letter Bible. Here are some notes from my studies in relation to the above verses:

The greek translation for "know" in 2 Timothy 1:12 is eidō. It means to perceive, to see, to pay attention to, to discern. This is the word Paul used to explain how he knew God and how his faith in God in knowing Him helped Paul to endure. 

If you continue to read in 2 Timothy, you will come across 2 Timothy 2:19. The greek translation for "know" in 2:19 is ginōskō which also means to understand, to perceive, to have knowledge of, but it also is a Jewish idiom for knowing someone as intimately as a husband and wife do in the marriage act. This is how God knows us. For those that commit their life to God, He will know them deeply and intimately and place His seal upon them. 

In Acts 19:15, the greek translation for "know" in regards to the evil spirit knowing Jesus Christ is also ginōskō. How the evil spirit knows Paul, the root word is different for "know", it is epistamai which means to be acquainted with, to understand. 

In 1 Corinthians 13:11-13, the first "knowing in part" has the root word ginōskō (so right now we can only know partially the way Christ knows us), whereas the following "shall know just as I also am known" contains a similar root word but slightly different and expanded, epiginōskō, which means to know accurately, to know well. Christ knows us fully, accurately, and intimately.

See Blue Letter Bible for more in depth studies of the Scriptures. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Freedom from Beauty: Day 4

Day 4: There's been a lot of learning in just four days. I'm excited to share what the simple act of giving up love of fashion, immodest clothing, and all forms of make-up has taught me thus far. 

First I want to note that you can be fashionable and modest at the same time, although it is a difficult task that requires both mindful and intentional dressing. While I believe the calling of modesty is for all women, I don't think being modestly fashionable is a sin, however it can be if it becomes a source of security for you. That is what I want to write about today. 

Security. What is it? Where does it come from? Can you live without it? These are all great questions regarding the things that we feel comforted in and safe in. If placed in anything other than God, it is false security and is foolishness. Feeling secure and being secure are different. You might feel secure with something, but it may not truly offer you any security whatsoever. 

There are many, many things that can make us feel secure, and Satan can use these things to derail us from the true security found in Christ alone. Money, a career, a home, clothing, food, good health, beauty, a car, nice stuff, and relationships are just a few of the things that we can begin to feel a false security in. Most of these things are usually not bad in and of themselves, but to grow so fond of them that without them you feel a little lost, well that isn't good. Having freedom in Christ is being able to live without these things being a priority or of importance in our lives. True freedom is found when they aren't. As I've given up two of them, clothing and beauty, I've found more freedom than I've felt in a while. 

When it comes right down to it, false security can be found in anything that isn't eternal. The root of the security is that we find some kind of value in it. In the Bible, Jesus says:

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
~Matthew 6:19-21~ 

What you value is where your heart is, and where your heart is, well there is your reward. Is your reward only as good as the temporary things you trust in, or do you trust in God and have reward with Him? You cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24), and when we begin to feel secure in things other than God, those things begin to be forms of security and without them we are incomplete. I do not want to feel incomplete without make-up or stylish clothes on, but I do want to feel incomplete without Christ because I am incomplete without Him.

Fashion, clothing, and beauty were beginning to take precedence in my life and it was only when I took them away that I realized the value I placed in them. It's sad, but I'm so grateful that God has revealed this to me now instead of on the day of Judgement. I would rather stand corrected now than stand guilty then. I still have a lot to learn and a long ways to go, but I am strengthened knowing that my value and worth is placed in a God who is eternal, and not in a something as fleeting as beauty and fashion.

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?"
~Matthew 6:25-27~

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Freedom from Beauty: Day 1

This post is the first of many where I will share my 4 week journey into the realm of modesty, simplicity, and without make-up. I'm going to fast, if you will, from adorning and perfecting my outward appearance and focus solely on beauty on the inside. On this journey, my prayer is that God would reveal to me His will in three primary areas:

  1. That I will gain freedom from the somewhat obsessive need to be and feel beautiful.
  2. That God would reveal to me what true modesty and beauty is in His eyes. 
  3. That I would learn what kind of role fashion and beauty should have in my daily life.

So, I will be giving up all make-up and not wearing anything tight, potentially revealing, or anything that draws attention to my body as well as not focusing on fashion, but instead being simple in my attire. Let me share a little background story as to what lead to this inevitable decision, albeit a bit of a drastic one (for me anyway).

It's been a long time in the coming. Years, really, but culminating these past couple of months. Two specific events recently had a lot of impact on this final decision, so I'll just share those. 
  • It was the first week of the RCIA program at the Catholic Church, and I had just gotten some new heeled booties which I naturally was excited to wear. I wore them with tights, shorts, and long sleeve shirt with scarf. I asked my husband, Jason, if the outfit was modest enough since he has a great conscience regarding modesty and materialism in general. He has no fashion sense, and I'm realizing that's kind of a good thing. He approved my outfit, although a little apprehensively as he didn't understand why the tights with the shorts during winter. The shorts are long enough though so it passed his approval. Before going out the door to church, I grabbed my black trench coat that extends right above the knee (but past my shorts). When my husband saw it, he wasn't too happy. He argued it looked too risque with black tights, boots, and a coat. He couldn't tell if I was wearing anything underneath the coat since it was longer than my shorts, and that it brings the wrong kind of attention. While style and fashion aren't his forté, he tried to persuade me to ponder why certain things are "in style" and fashionable. Why is much of the modern clothing for women and girls tight, form fitting, low cut, and the like? So, that being said, the message that day in church was about Mark 10:17-29. A rich man who diligently followed the law and teachings of God came to Jesus and asked what he must do to inherit the Kingdom of God. Jesus, seeing his heart, told him to sell everything he had and follow Jesus. It said the man walked away sad, because he had great possessions and couldn't do it. They were more valuable to him than God. The message spoke to me, and I wondered what might God be asking me to give up to follow Him more fully. I knew that the thought of modesty was and is difficult for me because in my eyes, what I was wearing was fine. It was within my guidelines of modesty and I loved the outfit. I wanted to wear it, even though my husband didn't like it. He felt it drew negative attention to myself, and that at church in the very least I shouldn't be drawing attention to myself which might distract some people from God. I didn't think too much into it for fear of what God might be trying to tell me through it.
  • My husband has two sisters, one is 11 and the other just turned 14. I consider them both sisters and friends and deeply care for them. The oldest has recently been seeking my advice in some fairly difficult and complex issues of faith and life, and it's challenging me as well as I delve into the answers. Last night, on her birthday, she asked me if I think waxing eyebrows is vain. I was taken aback a little, because of all the issues of vanity that she could ask, it has to be about the eyebrows. I'm an eyebrow fanatic and I'm extremely self conscious about my own. They are too light. So, I've been darkening them for about 13 years now and have only gone out in public without first doing so once or twice during that time. Sad, I know. For her birthday, with permission from her mother, I gave her some mascara she had been wanting, two cases of eye shadow, and a small makeup bag. She wanted me to do her makeup with her new gifts and I was excited to bond with her in this way. For fun, I gave her a dark, smokey eye. Needless to say, the look may have been a little mature for her and her mother was not too happy about it. I found myself feeling defensive, frustrated and spiritually attacked that evening. Truth be told, I didn't see the issue with the make-up. My dear husband once again tried to persuade me to ponder why women wear make-up. It's unnatural and is rooted in discontentment. It's a difficult fact to accept and is challenging to say the least. Make-up in and of itself isn't evil, but the heart of the matter might very well be.
So, as mentioned above, I felt very spiritually attacked last night. I wanted to give up. I didn't want to go to church anymore, I didn't want to interact with my husbands family anymore and I didn't want to be a role model to his sisters for fear of failing. I questioned Gods judgement in giving me a daughter, who am I to teach her godliness and Christian character? I felt defensive, but deep down knew that it was rooted in pride. There are many times in my past when I've felt similar emotions and sadly reacted to them in a negative way by withdrawing from God and those that I love to continue in my own selfish way. To wear what I want to wear and act how I want to act and be who I want to be. It was all about me. Well, thankfully last night I decided that through Christ He has given us freedom and power to fight the enemy's attacks. So I am fighting back. My counter attack is to not give in to those temptations to give up and continue in my ways, but to give all to Christ. To die to myself and, in prayer, devotion, and fasting, take up my cross and follow Him. It isn't easy, but it's not supposed to be. Do you think it was easy for Christ to submit to His Father and die, though undeserving in every way? If He could do that, I can certainly do this, which is nothing in comparison.   

Day 1: Today was my first day in this almost 4 week journey (for the season of advent-a time of preparing ourselves for the coming of Christ). I cried. It was so hard to leave my house without make up on (especially my dearly loved darkened eyebrows) and my clothes were, to be honest, kind of butt ugly. Maybe something akin to what my grandmother would have worn. I'm beginning this journey with the expectation that God will reveal things to me that would have been too difficult for me to see while in bondage under those comforts of make-up and cute clothes. Today I've learned two things:

  1. Knowing and acting upon what you know are two different things. I knew that both make-up and clothing were materialistic and not what really matters in life by a long shot, but giving it up entirely has turned out to be so painful it made me cry. So, my actions tell me that it held more importance to me than what my knowledge and words would have admitted.
  2. It requires me to rely on Gods strength. I wouldn't be able to give up beauty, something so important in worldly standards, if it wasn't for God and realizing that in Him alone is worth found. Not in work, beauty, relationships, money, health, etc. Only in God. This is a challenge to make sure my priorities are His priorities. 

This is just the beginning. I'm excited to learn what else God will teach me about Himself, why He created me, and what He can do through me as I submit and give Him authority over this area of true beauty and modesty. I don't want to be a slave to materialism and false gods. I only want to serve Him, and if that's truly the case, then I should be willing to give up anything and everything He may ask of me.