Monday, November 8, 2010

Out of the Swamp

I've been thinking a lot lately about—my hair. I really need to get it cut. And maybe I should start curling certain those annoying parts that don’t curl naturally. I want to look professional for my job. And around campus because I am constantly passing potential employers, so nice hair is important. And so are nice clothes. And necklaces. I have some of those, but I wear them a lot. Maybe I should get some new ones, or is that a waste of money? Clothes are much more important. And I’m sure Blake would like to see me in some nice new clothes. He’d probably also like it if my hair looked better…

Welcome to my brain. I could go on, but I'll spare you.

Sadly, unless I am actively reigning in my thoughts, this is the materialistic, trivial swamp I often let myself fall into. God has convicted me about my over focus on my external appearance many times, but it wasn’t until my study through 1 Peter that the specifics of my problem really made sense to me.
In his letter to the dispersed church, Paul exhorts women specifically. He writes:

 “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the wearing of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” 
1 Peter 3:3

At least I can be affirmed of one thing from this: as a woman, I’m not alone in my preoccupation with how I look. It appears that, for centuries, women have been spending so much time adorning their outer shell, that the actual person is often neglected. We have to be told to remember we are more than our shells.

I recently heard a saying: “Your inner beauty never needs makeup.” While this is very true, I think it gives off the impression that inner beauty is easier to maintain than our appearances. What a lie that is! It would be much less painful for me to spend a weekend shopping and getting a haircut than it would be to cultivate a “gentle and quiet spirit” from my stubborn and defensive one. Thankfully, God has grace and He will help me. 

As I think about preparing for my upcoming marriage, I couldn’t be more thankful for this passage. Peter continues his message to women when he encourages them to imitate the “holy women who hoped in God” in the Old Testament. He gives the example of Sarah through whom we receive the simple, yet extraordinarily difficult, exhortation to submit to our husbands. Submission is an extremely beautiful thing in God’s eyes that takes no small amount of “adorning” to achieve. Yet, the slew of wedding magazines, websites, and even input from friends is screaming the message that the wedding, the onset of my marriage, has to be beautiful—on the outside. Let’s perfect my dress, my hair, my make-up; the flowers, the linens, the lighting. While I the want the appearance of my wedding to reflect the underlying beauty of this covenant relationship, appearance should not be the focus. Yet, unless I can reign in those thoughts [how long do I want my hair to be for the wedding? I don't have a necklace nice enough for the big day...] outer appearance will become my focus. 

And so I pray for grace and for help from the Holy Spirit to climb out of the swamp of pointless thoughts and adorn myself with a quiet and gentle spirit.



Lizzie said...

Yes, yes, and yes. This was so well written and such a timely reminder. Thanks for helping to keep me on track :)

Kristina Marie said...

Love it Turell. Such a wonderful reminder that i need to be told time and time again.
Let us strive towards Christ together :)

Beauty in a Barn and a Blanket of Snow

Beauty in a Barn and a Blanket of Snow