When I began this blog, one of my goals was to encourage others in their journeys with Christ. I have been secretive for a long time about some of my past struggles and decisions, but I have learned that one of the best ways to encourage others is through the sharing of weaknesses and struggles.
My biggest weakness is something that I didn't know was a weakness at all until a few years ago..... I am vain. I once read years ago that Gwen Stefani joked that she could never get fat because she is too vain. This is something I would have joked about a few years ago as well.
I would always get a thrill when I got attention for my looks, and I took great pride in that. I used to subconsciously compete with my older sister to make sure I was always one step above her in attractiveness. My hair was always perfect, my legs were toned, my stomach was flat, and my makeup was perfectly applied. There is nothing wrong with those attributes themselves, but rather the attitude I had about those attributes that was sinful.
It took me years to figure out that my vanity is not something to joke about like Gwen Stefani, but something to combat and wrestle with until I overcome it. After accepting Christ back into my life, I began to feel a compelling in my heart to become a better person every day. I started watching only tv shows that were uplifting, and to this day the only show I watch is 19 Kids and Counting. I remember watching that show and thinking how beautiful the girls were, yet they were not sexy, they were not vain.
Proverbs 31:30 says:
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
You may have already read my post about my reasoning behind my modest dress, so I won't elaborate on that here (you can find that post HERE). What I will elaborate on is the change of mindset that had to come about for me to start overcoming my vanity. I think these steps are normal for anyone setting about for Christian change in their life.
1) I had to accept that my vanity was not only a weakness, but sinful, and something I needed to change.
2) I had to pinpoint areas of my life that contribute to this vanity and try to eliminate or minimize them. For me, this meant I needed to stop buying fashion magazines and going out with certain friends. It also meant purging my closet of clothes that emphasized my physical attributes as sexy.
3) I had to decide what I wanted others to focus on. I decided I wanted the focus to me on my heart, my actions, my faith, and my face (expressions).
4) I had to accept that other people were going to criticize the way I looked sometimes. Some would wonder why "if you got it, why aren't you flaunting it?"
5) I had to come to terms with the fact that my goal is not to be the prettiest, or the sexiest, or the thinnest, but to be a faithful servant in God's eyes. I need to be beautiful in his eyes, if no one else's.
Now, don't think I changed overnight, or that I am not still struggling with this. But slowly I have become more aware of myself in a new way. The depths of my soul are so much more beautiful than whatever is on the outside, and I am a bit ashamed of myself that I cheapened that beauty while emphasizing my physical attributes. When people look at me, I want them to think I am a beautiful person, not that I have a beautiful body. That body belongs to God and my husband, and I have really come to appreciate that as I have changed my focus.
I still struggle sometimes. We went to a wedding a few weeks ago and I wore a modest, though pretty dress, and couldn't help but feel a little put-out when the girls with their short skirts and long legs were getting lots of attention. I'm a little ashamed that I still feel that way sometimes. But as I said, this is my weakness, and I am working day by day to overcome it. (Luckily my husband made sure I knew how pretty he thought I looked, and he told me how proud he was that I WASN'T one of those other girls).
What about you? What do you feel is your greatest weakness?