This post is for anyone who wonders why "wearing your praise" matters. This post is for those who, like me, have searched for the line between healthy self care and vanity.
I find it increasingly hard to label myself, theologically. (I promise, this has everything to do with fashion and beauty - at least in my life, theology informs just about everything.) I'm not Presbyterian. I'm not Charismatic, in the strictest sense. I'm not Baptist.
I'm not a fundamentalist. Though we did homeschool, I refused to wear long skirts and tennis shoes together. I wore a little extra makeup and cute shorts (on purpose) to all the home schooling summer curriculum fairs, and thus scandalized 80% of the crowd. Good times.
I'm not a hedonist. I'm not a stoic, unless it comes to my negative emotions. I have come to believe that the stark opposite to "wearing your feelings on your sleeve" is good, old fashioned Biblical meekness. Meekness is any strong emotion - under control. My feelings are invited to the party - but they are not allowed to plan it.
I wasn't always meek, and I'm still not, on days. But now I really am chasing rabbits.
Suffice it to say that at one time, when I was a girl, I wanted nothing more than to feel pretty...to be pretty...and some told me that that was a sin.
Is it any wonder that I am working my way, 12 hour days at a time, into making a living from beauty? I was meant to be an artist. I have craved beauty and order since I was a child.
When I was a 20-year-old one-income, poverty-level newlywed with honeymoon twins, I remember spending the meager amount set aside for our tithe, to buy just one new outfit from JCPenny. There I was, all grown up and married with children, and my hunger to feel pretty was still clashing with my theology.
My theology won, and I have no regrets - giving, even from your own lack today, is a key to prosperity in the future.
Throughout my kids' growing up years, I resorted to mostly (amazing, miraculous) hand-me-downs from clothing shop owners and friends, supplemented with thrift store scores. And I did all sorts of silly (and wise) things to stay as fit and healthy as I knew how. I just wanted to like the woman I saw in the mirror...and looking back, I know that I was far too hard on myself.
Fast forward to the years when my children (now grown) were teenagers and young, single twenty-somethings.
Is it just me, or does anyone else understand the stage your nearly-grown kids go through, when they begin to question everything they were taught, the way they were taught it, and all your mis-deeds are remembered, either in vivid detail, or sometimes even embellished beyond recognition?
We were there.
And someone did something for me, that even she didn't know the profound affect it would have, especially in my relationship with my daughters.
At a church event one day, this young woman was chatting with my daughters as I was off somewhere else across the room. She looked at me, and said to my girls, "Your momma has the cutest backside of anyone I ever saw in my life. She is so beautiful for her age. I want so badly to be like her as I grow older."
It sounds so silly and so vain, and I didn't find out about the remark until much later.
But do you know what that did? It gave me fresh - and at the time, much needed - credibility with my daughters, at a very crucial stage in their development. I realize that seems like a stretch. And there were a lot of other factors involved. However, trust me when I tell you that that really was a turning point for them...for me...for us.
And here is where I bring this home - sorry it has taken me so long, but the "back story" matters, in this case. (No pun intended.)
Throughout history, a beautiful woman has been a sort of gate-keeper. It perhaps shouldn't be so, but it is. Beauty opens doors, it brings credibility even when credibility is unearned and undeserved. Young women especially will listen to another woman who embodies the kind of pretty they seek to be. They will take her word as near-gospel. Many of us middle-agers still (almost) believe that beauty equals wisdom, hence our great love for "beauty secrets". Pretty certainly equals power, whether we like that or we don't.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find a teenaged girl and casually mention to her how gorgeous you think her momma is....when her momma is nowhere around to hear it. Be specific about it. Apparently, my backside is special. Not sure how I feel about that, but there it is.
Affirm the other woman's beauty - to her daughter.
You may never know it, but you just might change a life doing something as silly as that.
And that, gentle reader, is why I still care about how I look. Because pretty equals power, I want all I can reasonably get short of idolatry or plastic surgery. (...aren't those two things the same? I digress...)
Why do I still pursue age-appropriate pretty?
So I can influence the next generation. There are too many other women, far more beautiful than me, who are using their influence to degrade the very fabric of society. Us Jesus loving girls have to take what beauty God has given us (and we all have some) and cherish it, respect it, and use it for His glory...not as "the end", but as a means to an end - a mere tool that we can use to take back a whole generation.
You and me? We aren't just another pretty face. There's theology - sound theology - lurking behind our mascara'd eyes.
And all these seemingly random pictures of my stumpy (so not pretty) hands are just peeks into a new-ish design. I will be expanding my leather stack ring set to include gold-tone (yeay!) - since gold tone is all the rage for the foreseeable future. (So glad I didn't change my wedding rings to white gold or platinum...everything old is new again, except for my laugh lines.)
I've made a new friend in recent months...and boy-howdy is she ever a gate keeper. (read: that means she's gorgeous). She's also a grandmother...because really, why would you get your advice from anyone under 40? And if she's over 40 and loves Jesus, and is pretty, and a grandmother?
Run, don't walk, run to her and sit at her feet and ask her stuff.
Her name is Honey Holden - fellow preacher's wife and taker-back of a generation and practitioner of pretty. I think you'll love her.