In the eyes of mainstream society and in my mind I wasn’t one of those “natural” beauties growing up who didn’t have to wear make-up to be attractive. In fact, I never had the courage to try this, but I would bet that if a woman who normally wears make-up to work didn’t wear it one day, her co-workers would ask if she wasn’t feeling well or if she was sick. Make-up is so ingrained in a girl’s thinking and identity from the time she is very little, I never even considered that not wearing make-up was an acceptable option.
I wasn’t a make-up fanatic growing up but generally did not leave the house without wearing the basics (foundation, cover-up, mascara, blush, eye liner and lipstick). I had a lot of acne in my teen years and even into my 30’s, so I felt I “had” to wear cover-up on my complexion to feel comfortable in public. I also felt I had invisible eyes and “had” to have eye liner and mascara on, if nothing else.
When learning about modesty (see previous post) from the Bible (1 Timothy 2:9-10 – “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works“), I suddenly felt pretty silly to be wearing such simple clothing and then to be made up in the face. It was contradictory to what I had learned about modesty in general. I was sending very mixed signals, saying, “Hey, don’t look at me……but do look at me!” So I started toning down the make-up, losing the foundation, and wearing more muted lipstick. Then I would only wear it when I went to town or when Dave and I would go out to dinner, etc.; and also when we visited family. Then I only wore a little bit of mascara, the last holdout, to make me feel less washed out looking and feeling “attractive.” Finally, Dave asked me, “Who are you wearing that for?” I hemmed and hawwed, “Um, well, so I can look better when I’m seen with you in public.” He said “Well, please don’t feel you need to do it for me; I like you better with no make-up”. To be honest, I cringed when he said that because deep down I knew I was clinging to wearing it for ME because I still wanted to look attractive to the world. I thought “Are you KIDDING me?!” How can you stand to be seen with a woman who looks so simple and plain?!” (Ugly was more the word I was thinking). “Don’t you know all guys want to be seen with a woman who looks her best and wears make-up?!” And speaking of ugly, I had just uncovered the ugly truth that I had let a good portion of my identity and self worth be overtaken by how I looked in make-up. The identity to which I had become accustomed had been taken away. But then God graciously reminded me that I as a Christian woman am supposed to point people to Christ through my obedience to God’s Word, not look attractive so God’s Word will be attractive. I had to repeat over and over again, and still do, “Modesty, modesty, modesty, it’s not about me, it’s not about me, it’s not about me…..” Good grief, the flesh dies hard.
Over time though, it is becoming more and more a feeling of freedom not having to be reliant on and in bondage (of sorts) to make-up. And the natural beauty of the women here in our little neighborhood community really comes out in each smile and glow of their faces as they have replaced make-up with the true joy of the Lord, living in obedience to Him. I realize some of you may have rolled your eyes just then, but it’s true.
The journey into modesty is really an inside/outside package deal that covers every aspect of who I am. And I haven’t even written on the biggest issues yet! But I’m so thankful to God for even taking the time to reveal and teach me these things. One thing I have also learned is that understanding the principle behind something God has instructed in the Bible is KEY! I asked myself at the beginning of this journey, “Why does God require this modesty ‘stuff'”? As we know, nothing in the Bible is there without purpose. I believe God requires modesty in all areas of the lives of Christian women because the flesh IS so strong and also as a constant reminder to us AND the heavenly realms that we are part of God’s kingdom and not part of the world’s kingdom, and we are to be different than the world and set apart to be known as God’s children. It’s really for our own good and to glorify God, which in reality is what it is all about (which is that underlying principle concept I just mentioned).