following Jesus as woman in today’s world {part 1}

womanfollowing

Do you ever wonder how a woman in 2012 is supposed to be like Jesus in 30 A.D.?

That question was on my heart the other day as I drove to the gym. So I asked God.

“Lord, forgive me for asking, but how am I supposed to be like a man who lived 2000 years ago? I’m a helpmate, a woman, a mother in a modern age- not at all like the Jesus, the Lord of all things, who lived and walked here in the flesh so many years ago in Israel.”

Not even a minute passed, and the Lord started to answer. He started pouring out ways I, a mama of four and a wife of a man, could be like His Son, right here and right now.

The first way hit me in the gut.

I was completely taken aback when He said this:

He did not try to make himself seem beautiful to the world.

Oh. my. goodness. Why did I ask?

Here I am on the way to the gym in full makeup.

Oh, no.

Yes, Lord, I’m listening. You’ve got my attention. And I feel a bit sick.

“Remember,” He said,

“For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.” {Isaiah 53:2}

He didn’t try to make himself look more appealing to His culture, the Pharisees or anyone else for that matter. Now this is just a guess, but he probably didn’t whiten his teeth, use an age-defying moisturizer followed by a glowing primer, topped with a great matte foundation to cover up His flaws, all while running and eating cabbage so His thighs would get smaller.

Ugh.

He wasn’t pretty. And He didn’t try to be.

Oh, Father.

As I drove, His quiet voice asked, “how many hours a day do you spend making yourself look beautiful to the world?”

The answer came instantly.

Hours. Every day.

I spend hours and hours at the gym each week. I spend plenty of minutes putting on makeup each day. I wash my hair, I dry it for 30 minutes a few times a week. I have five different skin care products I use on a daily basis.

For what?

For whom?

It was like taking a punch to the gut.

I’d like to believe that God wants me to look beautiful so that I can share his message to the world- so that I can reach those around me by being noticeable. By being different.

But that is not what Jesus did.

He did not seek the notice of others. He did not seek to make himself appealing so that he could share his message.

What does that mean for me?

How do I learn from Jesus 2000 years later?

I follow His example. I make myself less noticeable, and my Father more noticeable.

It can’t be about following rules- like avoiding makeup or any sort of beauty treatment. That would be trying to follow the law. And I will fail when it comes to following the law.

This is about my heart.

And unfortunately, it’s not pretty.

I care far, far too much about my appearance to the world.

My heart is clever and deceitful- it tries to make it about Jesus, but it’s honestly at it’s root, it’s not.

It’s pride. I want to be admired, or at least thought of as pretty or trendy. And while my heart loves Jesus like crazy, I can’t love myself that much and put Him first. I'm being like a whitewashed tomb.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.” Matthew 23:27

I hate talking about this sort of thing because it’s not fun and easy; in fact, it’s far too hard of a thing to follow. At least it is for me, anyway.

I will fail at this. I constantly fail at this.

I know my heart.

But my God knows it even better.

And He is slaying these idols one leg, one arm, one finger, at a time.

I don’t have any simple steps to follow, no list of ways to cast down the desire to appear beautiful to the world.

I only have God.

And I know that He is bigger and stronger than my selfish desires.

I know without a shadow of a doubt that He can change this stubborn, prideful, selfish heart into a heart like His. He can help me lose the desire to make myself appear more beautiful to the world.

It’s not about the makeup.

It’s not about the exercise. It’s not about the five skin care products. They aren’t sinful.

It’s my heart. My heart is full of love for itself.

That is sin. And it needs to die.

I praise God for shedding light in dark places, even when my sinful heart loves those dark places. 

I praise Him for redeeming me and making me beautiful by giving me a new heart through the sacrifice of the blood of His perfect Son.

God give me a heart that is fully yours.

Don’t let me focus on my appearance. I don’t want to serve myself in my hours on this earth. I want to serve you and only you, Lord.

Change me, change my longings and desires to be only for you, God. Let my adorning come from your Spirit, not from the dresses I wear or the things I put on.

And let not your adornment be merely external-- braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. 1 Peter 3:3-5

beauty2

next week: following Jesus as a woman today {part 2}

23 comments

Anonymous said...

Wow, so refreshing to read this! I struggle with this as well...i know it's a process. But, God knows i am trying. This has certainly blessed me. Thanks for sharing.

Amy Bennett said...

Definitely have (do) struggle with this. One thing that really helped me was fasting my clothes and makeup. I really saw how much I cared and then realized how little the people around me cared. Really freed up some ties for me.

Yolanda said...

The Lord has been speaking to my heart about this lately as well! I feel so convicted. Though I don't spend hours at the gym, II spend a lot of time looking at fashion magazines and wondering what I am going to where to work and certain functions. II think about it way to much! Thank you for your honesty and sharing of the truth. Not always easy to hear but so freeing!

Melony Merten said...

Mandy, I started following your blog about 6 months or so ago and posts like this are what keep me coming back time and time again. I love that you are not afraid to ask the "hard" questions.....and that you're not afraid of getting the not-so-fun answers in return sometimes. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful heart with others. :D

Edie said...

I've been reading your blog for awhile but finally felt called to post a comment.


This was a great post! I really like how you LISTEN. To what God is trying to tell you and us.


Thanks. I needed this today!
Edie

Susan Shemo Conroy said...

Mandy, your heart is pure, honest and beautiful. God speaks through you in such a powerful way. Thank you for you blog, which is also your ministry. You rock, sister!

Ms. Impatient said...

You have just summed up and made totally clear what my husband has beating around the bush trying to tell me. You put this on my level. It has hit me like a ton of bricks. I have read this for the second time, and it made me feel like a ton of bricks were lifted from my shoulders. Cleanliness and treating my body like a temple is what is important. Thank you for sharing this!

Ashley Ditto said...

What a beautiful post! Bless you!

Jenny C. said...

Thanks Mandy - so good! It takes a lot of time, effort, and money to have good looking "flesh" (hair, makeup, clothes). I want my heart to desire more of Jesus instead, but it's a true battle in our culture and even our churches (sometimes church feels like a fashion show!). Lord help us seek You with all our hearts!

Amanda Medlin said...

Wow! I love your honesty! This is a tough, but much needed message for all women of God to hear. Thank you!

Rebecca said...

Wow. Your honesty is very refreshing. And a great reminder to us all. I love how you remind us it's about our hearts and not about following the law. Laws always trip me up - who is right? Who is wrong? Is it okay to wear pants? How short of a skirt is too short? Should I do my hair so I make Christians look good? Should I not do my hair so I make Christians look humble and modest? I have struggled with all of this for so long. How good to hear that it is not about the rules - but about the heart. God spoke to me today - on many levels - through you. Thank you for being willing to share. God Bless you!

mandyBH said...

Thank you for being willing to encourage. Satan wants me to feel defeated today, and God has used you to encourage my heart. Thank you so much.

mandyBH said...

I love that Amy- I feel like God is definitely leading me toward that, even more so after our conversation on the way to dinner. Love you friend! thank you for your sweet encouragement and letting me know I'm not alone. :)

Lauren Casper said...

beautifully convicting post.. thank you!

A Proverbs 31 Wife said...

Oh my goodness, as women we certainly do worry alot about how we look, and Jesus was indeed quite the opposite! I hadn't ever thought about that before. Great thoughts my friend!

Lesley Calo said...

beautiful. so much truth.

Corrine Hannon-Eide said...

This is such a beautiful post! Thank you so much for sharing!

Mindy Dunn said...

Mandy, thank you for sharing how the Lord is working in your heart and causing you to be more like Jesus! I have been convicted by 1 Peter 3:3-5 recently too! Reading your post has been such a blessing and encouragement to me today. Thank you, dear sister!

C said...

Refreshing! I just read another blog post that depressed me on this subject but it was not Jesus focused. Thank you for your life giving words and for sharing your one on one relationship with God. Thank you for turning off the world's voice as you listen to God's voice.

Kelly Yoder said...

Pretty awesome!

Sabrina M said...

Hello! I am a new comer here. I found you on Pinterest :) I came over to look at a DIY and WOW I feel so encouraged and blessed as well as convicted (in a good way) by reading page after page of your blog. Thank you for writing what God puts on your heart. This post really spoke to me. It's so easy to get caught up in beauty and looking nice especially for me as I near the "30 mark". But true beauty is revealing Christ in your life. It's all about him, not us. Thank you so much for your wonderful blog! It is bookmarked as a favorite on my computer. :)

Anonymous said...

I was reading through this and I too, felt a slight punch to the gut, but then a tiny voice echoed saying, "But Jesus was a man. Of course he didn't try to make Himself beautiful!"

Anonymous said...

This waisted my time, pretty girl talking about being pretty. So not what I expected. :(