Beautiful Girls and Subtle Hypocrisy

Oct
2014
29

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When I was pregnant with Reagan, I had no idea what to expect, and therefore had very few expectations. The ones I did have were quickly dashed to pieces when I had her. That’s the way it works with your first. Because you cannot possibly imagine what it’s like to have a baby of your own until you have one. No matter how much experience you have with others’ babies, nothing can prepare you for it.

With Charlotte, though, I’ll admit that I kind of felt I knew what to expect. And in many ways my expectations were correct. But one completely irrational assumption I had was that Charlotte would be a boy. I know that’s crazy. I know there was as much chance she’d be a girl as that she’d be a boy. But I have 2 younger brothers and so I just had it in my head that she’d be a boy. So when the ultrasound showed up “girl” (because I have no interest in waiting an extra 4 months to find out what I’m having) I was like, “wait, what?”

Sisters?? Two girls, 19 months apart? I have no categories for this. I immediately went to the teenage years in my head. What will THAT be like? How am I going to deal with the hormones and insecurities and drama of not just one girl, but two? Then, three years later, we added Eva into the mix and now I have three girls within two years of each other. Oh, Jesus help us.

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When I survey the cultural climate of our age, I can grow very anxious about raising girls into womanhood. I know they are still young and yet I also know that Reagan is six and that pregnancy feels like yesterday. Now I know that anxiety is never good, but I do think there is wisdom in preparing now for what’s ahead. In being aware of and prayerfully considering what my girls will be facing as they enter adolescence and adulthood.

One prevailing issue for young women (and older women, if we’re honest) is the issue of beauty. I won’t go into the whole “the media is ruining our image of beauty with photoshop” thing. Although I do think you should be aware that you are being offered a completely unattainable and impossible image to which to aspire. However, I think the more dangerous issue for Christian women is that we have allowed this to become part of our conversation in an unholy and unedifying way. And this can lead to a subtle hypocrisy.

Think about your conversations with your closest friends. How often do you discuss your external appearance? Exercise, weight loss, diet, hair style, makeup, the post-baby belly, that flab on your arms, needing new clothes, wishing you could get a tummy tuck, etc. Know that I point the finger at myself when I say this. I am part of the problem. And for the sake of my daughters, and for the sake of my own heart, I want this to change.

Here’s what Peter has to say, “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 3:4)

It occurs to me that I can teach my daughters the importance of this scripture while simultaneously undoing that teaching if they don’t see it taking root in my own heart. Because one thing is for sure, they are always listening, and they will hear that talk about exercise, dieting, etc.

I recently had a conversation with a friend about insecurity and body image and I admitted to her that I actually have always had a fairly healthy view of my body. Now please know that I’m as tempted as anyone to obsess about getting to the perfect weight or having the right clothes. I’m not boasting here. But as I was talking to her I realized how much I have my own mother to thank for the fact that it’s not as consuming for me as it is for many women.

I believe my mom did two very important things for me when I was growing up. First, external appearance was just never a big conversation topic. She never once brought up to me the fact that I had gained a few pounds or was maybe a little behind in fashion.  Now, if I brought it up, she gladly talked about it. But it was usually to encourage me to be content and not worry too much about it. And when I lost a bunch of weight running on the cross country team she didn’t make a big deal about that either. It just wasn’t the most important thing. And the second thing she did is she modeled this for me. I cannot recall my mother every talking about her own weight, worrying about her own appearance, wishing she could look different, comparing herself to other women.

It’s funny, both my mom and I are healthier now than we’ve ever been. We send each other iPhone screen shots of our most recent runs. We probably have better fashion sense than we’ve ever had. We shop together and keep each other from buying hideous things. We discuss hair styles and make-up. But it’s just not, and has never been, the main thing. And she helps me to remember that. A few weeks ago I lamented to her, via text, that I’d spotted my first vein on my leg. And she laughingly replied, “Badge of honor!”

This past week Josh preached on hypocrisy in the early church, what a deadly, insidious thing it is. I don’t want my daughters to hear me preach the importance of inner beauty, and then see me obsessing about my external beauty. This is confusing and harmful. Instead I want them to see what I saw in my mom. Contentment. A willingness to laugh about it all. A lack of worry. Seeing this in her went a long way with me.

My prayer for myself is the same as my prayer for my daughters. That in the face of every sort of temptation to obsess about outer beauty they, and I, would see Jesus and find contentment, quiet. That their hearts would find satisfaction not in how they look but in who Jesus would create them to be. May His pleasure be our delight, friends.

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2 comments

  1. Chris Conrad
  2. Deborah

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