Okay, I admit it. I care about what people think. Don't get me wrong, what people think doesn't rule my world...well, sometimes it does. The older I get the less I care, but there are still times I want, and even need to meet the expectations of people I know - even strangers.
If I'm going to a big discount store, I really don't care what I wear or if my make-up is just so. I've seen people shop there in clothing ranging from pajama pants to expensive business suits. But if I'm going to the office, a night with my friends, or a wedding, I want to have the right look.
Writing this post caused me to look within at my own personal "look," rules for life, and why I have them. I had to grudgingly recognize, and reluctantly admit having the right look is an inner rule for me. Sometimes I still hear my mother's voice in my head directing my choices. Sometimes its my own pride. Sometimes its my desire to fit in and be accepted. I learned in elementary school that if you don't have a certain type of clothes, you're quickly excluded from the in-crowd. That is my first memory of rejection. My tender young heart learned that lesson fast. Now I understood the unwritten rule, and it became a personal rule for me, "You must attain a certain standard to be accepted." I believe our society runs on this mantra. If I have a speaking engagement, one of the questions I ask the event coordinator is, "Is this a casual or formal event?" I need to know what to wear. Why? Because like it or not, we're judged by our appearance. How we choose to dress, apply make up/or not, and whether we wear a conventional hair style or enjoy a spiky multicolored look, our look speaks about us. Are we trendy, traditional, all business, athletic, casual, religious, or a non-conformist who lives to make a bold statement.
There is an old saying, "The clothes make the man." I say it goes deeper. Like it or not, our appearance also says a lot about about our good sense, and wordlessly speaks about inner attitude. Would you wear a swim suit in a snow storm? Would you get a new job in a casual t-shirt and shorts techie work culture, yet walk in on your first day wearing a full suit?
The media will give us the world's opinion on the latest look for most any category we want, but I've discovered that God is lovingly concerned about my look. I grew up in a church that was all about the religious look. I call it the church of can't do's and no grace. You can't wear this, you can't do that. So many can'ts ruled my world, they spoke so loudly that they overshadowed the love of God. I truly hope you don't know what I mean.
God's word does speak to beauty and fashion, but not as a command. Caring about what God's word on fashion and beauty prompts us to respond. The response of a trusting child is to do what the Father says even if they don't like it or understand. The Father's motivation is not to deprive us. Day to day He longs to give us the best life, and a future that is all it can be because of His great love for us. A father knows that if his girl goes out looking like a hoochie mama the world will assume this is true. How his sweet daughter dresses speaks to the type of person she is. The Heavenly Father doesn't want His precious daughters to go out dressed inappropriately, but He is also concerned with the way we choose to dress ourselves internally.
Each day we choose our outer look, and our inner look. Do we have an attitude toward authority? Do we push back on our Father's loving standards, or do we submit? Submission is a word that gets bad press, but in Christianity, we are to have an attitude of submission toward those in authority over us. Use your head of course. Read the Bible yourself, and understand what it says, don't depend on someone else's interpretation. I did that growing up, but thankfully learned a better way.
Our Biblical heroine Queen Esther was noticed in the house of women not only for her beauty, but for her attitude. In a multitude of beautiful women this one young woman was given special treatment because her inner loveliness stood out. Esther could have had a victim mentality and succumbed to the blackness of bitterness. Her parents died while she was a girl. She could have branded herself mentally as an orphan. Her people group were captives far from their homeland. She could have mentally branded herself as helpless, and lived an angry life. Perhaps she had a sweetheart, dreamed of marrying and having a normal family life in a home of her own. She could have soaked daily in the disappointment of life's what if's. Esther was taken to the palace at the whim of the king. Behind her smooth facade she could have resented her fate. After all, what had she done to deserve this? Esther could have been mouthy and told everyone off, but she was smart and kept her mouth shut when she needed to. Or, she could have been prideful and arrogant, become reliant on her outer beauty to win her a throne. In difficult times she could have lived with anxiety, but she chose to trust God even when she didn't understand. As queen she could have lived fearful, looked down from her position, and forgotten her people, but instead she pushed through her fear to courageously save her people.
Internally Esther stood out because her heart, her head, and her will were submitted to her God. Esther knew that in the tumult of humankind's choices in this world she had a loving God. She trusted herself to Him.
Psalm 56:11, in God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me? NIV
I Peter 3:2-4, ...when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. NIV
Yes, God deeply cares about our look. He prizes our inner beauty because He loves us and knows this is the route to the happiest, healthiest, most fulfilled peaceful life for us. I do still naturally default to my inner rule of wanting to have the right look, but overarching the rule is my desire to do what God wants me to do. I submit my will to Him because I trust my Heavenly Father. He is not a God of don't do's and no grace. He accepts me with my imperfections, and when I repent, He pours the healing salve of His grace over me. I don't always make the right choices, but over the years I've learned that His look is the one I want most. It satisfies me and makes me the happiest. He knew that and over time, I've learned to trust Him more. He has proven himself a loving, good, and wise Heavenly Father.