First of all I must confess that I stole this title from a book by Richard Foster, which I highly enjoyed, but mostly the phrase just resonated with something that I have recently experienced. Multiple times in the past few months I have been asked about my choice to fore-go make-up and jewelry (other than a simple wedding band). Is it rooted in preference or in religious conviction? Strangely, I had difficulty separating the two in order to articulate a response. After thinking it through, my best answer is still, “Yes.” Yes, it is my preference, and it is my Christian conviction.
Ten years ago I wore both make-up and jewelry, and thought little about it. Like most people, when I read scriptures such as 1 Peter 3:1-3 and 1 Timothy 2:8-10, I reasoned that the focus was on the heart, rather than on actual adornment. The path that changed this perspective was not direct. I was first convicted about modesty (https://thebrownbrink.wordpress.com/my-brothers-keeper-an-urgent-call-to-modern-christian-women/). As I obeyed in that area, the Lord called me deeper, and I studied head-covering (https://thebrownbrink.wordpress.com/why-i-cover/). One surrender led to another until I found, to my delight, that the principle of 1 John 2:15 also holds true in reverse. I had long been disturbed by evident love of the world in my heart, but felt powerless to combat it. “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him,” but as I cut the chords that bound my heart to the world, my love for the Father grew and grew.
My ideal of Christian womanhood also changed without my ever seeking to change it. I believe this was simply a bi-product of pursuing a different kind of beauty. I, who had once so much coveted worldly fashions, found myself enthralled with unadorned simplicity. I, who once carefully lined my eyes and lips, have no desire for artificial beauty.
Another surprise that I have been gladdened to discover is that the “imperishable beauty” that the Spirit calls us to is not competitive. I have struggled deeply in my life with envy of other women–especially in regard to physical appearance. This temptation has faded to the point of being almost non-existent over the past few years. I believe this has happened, at least in part, because of the principle that Jesus teaches in Matthew 6:21–“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” When the treasures of my time, energy and money are invested in physical beauty, then my heart, too, is bound up with my appearance.
So, what does all have to do with make-up and jewelry? Over time, as I focused on modesty and simplicity, they just became out-of-place. I would try on a neck-lace for a special date with my husband and it would look strange, rather than trendy and cute. I had given up earrings when I started covering my head, because the combination made me look like a gypsy :). Eventually I came back to 1 Peter and 1 Timothy. Twice the Lord discourages outward adornment–contrasting it with the modest beauty of a woman whose heart is focused on pleasing the Lord. Whether this is a clear-cut command could be debated, but why? Somewhere along the way these questions have ceased to pertain to the realm of law for me and become an expression of freedom–freedom from the impossible, destructive standards of worldly society–freedom from the self-love that demands attention–a freedom to be simply and beautifully enjoyed.