Stay young. Wrinkles are among the worst of evils. Sagging skin betrays sagging worth. Your beauty is what defines you. Protect it. Spend your resources to keep it hostage. Do everything but kill for it, all the while pretending it is not your god.
"Age is not all decay; it is the ripening, the swelling, of the fresh life within, that withers and bursts the husk."
George MacDonald was a Scottish author, poet, and minister born in the early 1800's. He wrote fantasy literature not for the child but for the child-like, whatever their age may be. Although C.S. Lewis had never met him and was only a child when MacDonald died, many years later he lovingly lauded MacDonald his "master" and didn't write a book without quoting him in some form or fashion.
This week I painted a small abstract acrylic work on panel and scrawled that favorite MacDonald quote across its face. It will quietly sit in our living room a few feet from the screaming television that preaches quite a different message.
May MacDonald also become our master. May his thoughts on age become our thoughts on age. Our bodies are dying from the moment of birth. Youth is not our right. It is ours for a few years and then it disappears into the better thing. Age. May we stop clinging to this life and begin to ripen in hope for the next, eternal one.
Maybe you just rolled your eyes and braced for an old-school lecture by your mom/dad/grandma/pastor/fill-in-the-blank-with-an-authority-figure here. Maybe you're a man reading this and you just tuned out because, after all, isn't modesty a girl thing? Maybe you're a woman who doesn't particularly love exhibiting your body, so you just got excited to read in expectation of two big pats on the back for your successes in the modesty arena. Maybe you're just sick of hearing about modesty altogether.
May I submit that modesty does pertain to you and me, and dusty modesty is worth dragging out of that corner spot in the attic? Let's throw caution to the wind and blow off those dust bunnies in an effort to uncover modesty together.
Modesty: the quality or state of being unassuming or moderate in the estimation of one's abilities.
Modesty is usually only brought up at Christian all-girl retreats and youth events. "Don't wear this. Be sure to cover up that. The Lord loves modesty." But why? Why does the Lord love modesty? And is he only concerned with what women wear? And why shouldn't I act and speak and exist to impress those in the room?
There's this story in Genesis about the woman Eve who was told she could be "like God" if only she would disobey his command and eat the fruit. More than anything else, Eve longed to be like God. After all, he knows everything, understands all, and is worthy of worship. Like our first mother and father, we too want to be worthy of worship. Not surprisingly, our longing to be worshiped (adored, exalted, revered, honored) quickly snakes its way into our doing.
Turn on the TV, and you will see mouth after mouth, body after body, attitude after attitude demanding your attention. God demands attention because he's worthy of it. We demand attention because we want to prove to ourselves and everyone else that we're worthy of it. It's a giant sham for something unworthy of praise to demand it stubbornly.
How can I make my peers look at MY achievements, MY character, MY home, MY body, MY money in such a way that will set me up in a higher place than they?
Modesty is not the clothes we wear. Modesty is the mindset we put on.
The Dressing Room
Some of us have a quick wit, others a savvy business sense, some a sweet spirit, and others intuitive social skills. Let's make sure our triumphs aren't worn on our lips to build up our own renown. Cover up. Let's put some clothes on our achievements for once. There can be only one God, and I am not he. Neither are you.
Some of us are rich-- Most of us, in fact. We use what we need and then employ the rest in making a name for ourselves. We build a kingdom and slap our seal on it. Dollar stacked on dollar we raise a foundation and then walls engraved with our success. We peek out of our castles of manicured lawns and shiny cars and put-together families to flaunt a carefully crafted façade. Money sews Pride for clothing. Let's be careful to never put on that brand. There can be only one God, and you are not he. Neither am I.
Some have beautiful bodies and lovely faces. Those are gifts given to point others toward the surpassing beauty of the Creator, not to distract from him. We don't do this by revealing more of who we are or what we have. We do this by revealing more of who Jesus is. If we are dressing to turn others' gaze to our cute style or ample curves or smooth faces (which will lie misshapen in a grave within less than a century), will others be able to focus on the unfading beauty of the One who will not die? Or will we be guilty of diverting their attention from the true God to a lesser god-- us? There can be only one God, and I am not he. Neither are you.
Some of us struggle with self-deprecating thoughts and a shriveled sense of self. Still, this betrays we are thinking of ourselves far too often. When our thoughts rest on our own deficiencies, we draw people's attention to us in pity. We are guilty of turning their gaze (and our own) from the glories of the Creator to the lack of the created. There can be only one God, and you are not he. Neither am I.
Let's quit using our abilities (and inabilities) as a pair of stilts that promote us to the heavens. If not used to reveal the goodness and faithfulness and kindness of God, they are rotting stilts that will soon give way under our bloated, god-sized egos.
Modesty = Humility
Modesty is this: having a moderate opinion of oneself. Not a despised opinion. Not an exalted one.
Speak in such a way that proves you are not Creator. Live in such a way that proves there is Someone much greater than you. Dress in such a way that proves you do not own the glory of a god. Become less (as in less often!) in your own thoughts, so that He can become more in others'.
We are not God, therefore we will not be satisfied even if all the world respects us as such. We will only be truly satisfied when we gaze on the incomparable worth of Jesus Christ.
May each of us stop stealing his worship. May we lock our god-complexes away in a far attic and pray that left alone, they will become dust-covered and forgotten.
"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." Romans 12:1
"Then Jesus told his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.'" Matthew 16:24
"For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land." Psalm 95:3-5
"Then the LORD said to him, 'Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?'" Exodus 4:11
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?…" Job 38:4-7
welcome Audrey DeFord is an artist, illustrator, wife, momma, believer. But not in that order. She currently resides in Texas with her husband Sam, baby girl Flora, French bully Shortstack, & 12