Wait! Come back! (Those who've known me, lo' these many years, usually find a way to slip out the door every time I say that...)
Seriously. Today, I'm pondering - not the 7 zillion dollar Government Bail Out, not the election, not even the gas shortage in the southeastern US - I've been pondering the seemingly differing subjects of personal style, and avoiding extremes. Personal style. Avoiding extremes.
Amazingly, one chapter in Ecclesiastes kinda sorta addresses both concepts, a fact which I find most satisfactory. Those Biblical "Wisdom Books" absolutely send me. I find so much food for thought in Proverbs or Ecclesiastes, my brain burps, because I'm always trying to feed it too much at one time.
Which brings me to the subject of extremes. There's a pitiful thing in Christendom, and it is people who conceal their lack of substance by masquerading as "being radical". Extremes are quasi-Christian, actually. They resemble the authentic Christian life, but are entirely human in their origin. To tend towards extremes is to live in a very dangerous place, according to the wisdom of Solomon:
Don’t be excessively righteous, and don’t be overly wise. Why should you destroy yourself? Don’t be excessively wicked...why should you die before your time? (Ec. 7)
Extremes manifest in ordinary life, and are quite easy to discern, if you remain alert. They are seen in the tendency to believe that if a little bit of something is good, a whole lot of it is better. If enjoying a friendship is good, why then ten text messages and a phone call or two a day is better. If spending a couple of hours in fellowship is good, then hanging out almost every day must be better. Staying for dinner - good. Staying for ten hours - better! If being friends is good, why, let's be BFF's.
If making your acquaintence is nice, I say we up the ante, and you be my long lost sister, 'kay??
If having a Facebook page is good, then spending forty-five minutes every other day "keeping up with friends" and pasting little buttons on a bulletin board, and writing lots of messages on lots of walls, and having lots of contacts is better. If using my spiritual gifts is good, then camping out on them must be better. If doing "it" once is good, then running "it" into the ground must be even better.
If God has called me to be a writer, then I ought to be writing down everything. If He has called me to prophesy, then I'll come up with "a word" for almost every corporate gathering. One mission trip is not enough, I must go on five trips. If I am good at administrating my small sphere of influence, shouldn't I be critiquing everyone's leadership style? If exhibiting passion is inspiring, then an emotional melt-down might bring revival!
You heard me. I find extremes to be boring. Because they are, literally, everywhere. Mega-churches, IMAX theatres, Big Gulp drinks, Hummers, collagen lips, boob jobs, loud music and loud personalities are a dime a dozen these days. Much like an experienced grade-school teacher will softly read a storybook to a roomful of squirming, noisy children, understated elegance is now what attracts attention.
Which brings me to the subject of personal style. Whether we're talking in terms of a woman's wardrobe, her home decor, her talents, or her personality...personal style can never be bought or imitated. It is precisely when a writer strains to write Great Literature, he begins to write trash. When anything poses as Art with a capital "A", it becomes Pretension with a capital "P". When a Christian strains to lead, she becomes irritating with a capital "I".
My sister has this gorgeous head of hair. I was not so blessed. You either have great hair, or you don't. If you don't, you could buy a wig...but I'd be reduced to admiring the talents of the wigmaker, and not your hair. So if you don't have great hair, how about drawing out those deep brown eyes? Or your smile? If you don't have a voluptuous figure, for heaven's sake, don't go out and buy one. You won't look quite right. Find a way to enjoy being lithe and graceful with the figure you were given.
If you are forty-something, please, for the love, stop wearing outfits designed for a twenty-something. Trust me....it isn't "you, only better".
Style is organic to the person. It is as much a part of the person as their eye color or their voice-print. It cannot be manufactured, it can only be highlighted or honed. Problem is, many women have spent so much time copying Sister Someone Else, they don't know who they are! In the Christian life, you can only work out what God has worked in. In matters of personal style, copying someone else is the equivalent of shopping at Rooms-To-Go. Takes no imagination.
Ecclesiastes kinda sorta tells us this, when it says:
Wisdom is as good as an inheritance, and an advantage to those who see the sun. For wisdom is protection as money is protection, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of its owner.
Don't you love it? "Wisdom is as good as money."
Having personal style is as good as being rich enough to afford a designer house, designer wardrobe, and surgical enhancements. In fact, the woman with style is at a distinct advantage. Both style and riches can lend you some measure of influence, but while you can run out of money, you can't run out of good taste.
Solomon would advise us: avoid excess, and always remember....the most important things in a woman's life cannot be bought or imitated.