Friday, April 20, 2012

The Eye-Catcher

 (True modesty and purity in action)

Adeline sighed and pressed her nose up against the glass of her upstairs bedroom window that overlooked the quiet streets of a small but picturesque, old-fashioned town.  It was the beginning of springtime in Texas, for the warm weather had already arrived and the wild flowers by the roadside had already been showing their faces for several weeks now.  Adeline's eyes watched teenagers from the local high school as they walked—some in groups, others in pairs—along the streets of her town.  School had just let out for the day, but Adeline was bored because she had finished her book work hours ago, being home-schooled, along with her chores.  Now there was nothing to do but take her usual place at the window seat and watch high-schoolers that she could only long to be friends with.

Adeline slowly raised the window, and a fresh breeze whirled her hair around her face.  Her eyes particularly watched the teenage girls.  They were so different from her, with their tight shorts that Adeline's parents had strictly forbidden, tank tops which exposed too much skin, and jeans that all-too-clearly displayed their small but curvaceous hips.  Adeline understood the importance of modesty, but she didn't know why the guys of her town always wanted to hang out with those girls.  Guys didn't give her a second glance as she walked by in her modest and feminine apparel.  She couldn’t help feeling maybe she didn’t have what it took to please a man.  She hated her insecurity, but it was always there, staring her right in the face.

Adeline's eyes followed a particular group of older teenaged girls—the bright and sumptuously beautiful girls—and the ones who wore the skimpiest clothing and most daring makeup. To Adeline, they looked great, with their toned and tan legs, even if their shorts were too short.  Why is it that guys only go after those sorts of girls?

Adeline sighed once again and turned back to her open Bible that lay on her bed.  She was envious.  She was coveting.  God, it's not fair!  Not fair?  Adeline could hardly believe she would say such a thing to God.  Tears began to rim her eyes.

Footsteps sounded on the staircase leading up to her room, and Adeline tried to dash away her tears as she turned to see her mother open her door.  Seeing tears on Adeline's face, her mother's warm smile turned into a worried expression.  She sat beside her on the bed and wrapped her arm around her.  "What's wrong with my Adeline?"

Adeline bit her lip.  She was afraid her mother wouldn't understand.  Who could?  Adeline couldn't understand herself most of the time.  She lowered her eyes in shame.  "Nothing," she whispered.

Adeline's mother cast a knowing look out the open window as loud, boisterous, girlish laughter sounded from outside. Living in town was not the best thing for a sixteen year old whose parents were trying to raise into a godly young woman, but their situation couldn't be helped.  She prodded her daughter again.  "C'mon, you don't just cry over nothing.  What's wrong?  I'm your mother and it is my job to help you.  So tell me what's wrong."

Short, jerky sentences finally came from Adeline's lips.  "It's just not...fair!"  She blurted out.  "Why are all the most beautiful girls the immodest, loose ones?  And what's worse, guys only seem to like those kinds of girls!  Every eye is drawn to them, but someone like me isn't even given a second glance.  Even the girls at church dress like that!  I want to be beautiful too!"  With this her sobs deepened.

Adeline's mother sighed long and heavily.  "Addy, how many times have I talked about this with you?  You are beautiful. Both your father and I have said so."

Adeline sniffed.  "Yeah, but you're my parents.  Of course I'm going to be beautiful to you. And besides, you would just say that to make me feel better."

Her mother raised an eyebrow.  "Then who do you want to be beautiful to?  Every man that looks at you?"

Adeline blushed.  "N-no, but I want to believe it.  I look at all those other girls and my confidence in myself is shaken.  I'm not beautiful compared to them.  They get to show off everything about themselves, while I have to hide beneath my frumpy old clothes.  I feel like I'm such a misfit."

"But you are beautiful. Your beauty comes from the inside out.  Remember, 'Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised' (Prov. 31:30).  A woman's heart is the most important factor in beauty, not what she looks like on the outside and what she wears.  In fact, the Bible implicitly requires modesty in a godly woman."

Adeline bowed her head.  "I know, Mama, but why do I still long to be viewed as beautiful on the outside too?"

"Every woman does," her mother answered.   “We want to be admired, pampered, glorified, adored, and worshipped, and for some reason, Hollywood has portrayed women as only being 'beautiful' if they look and dress a certain way.  But if we are women who truly seek to firstly, glorify God in everything we do, and second, to be a godly woman, we must not fall into the trap that the world sets for women.  Each woman has a separate and distinctive unique beauty, and you only want one man to love and cherish you for it, not every bozo that sees you on the street.  Who cares what those kind of men think!  They are just seeking instant satisfaction from those girls.  You only want one man to see your true beauty, and it is your job as a Christian young lady to keep that for him until you are married."

"Let me ask you something," her mother continued.  "When the Bible talks about the whorish woman, what do you think of her?  Do you envy her, or do you scorn the very thought of her?"

Adeline blinked.  "Well of course I would not envy her.  After all, she seductively leads men on to destruction."

Adeline's mother smiled knowingly.  "Ah, so why would you envy those girls that you just saw out your window?  How are they any different from the woman talked about in Proverbs?"

Adeline's mouth opened, though she didn't speak right away.  "How...I's different...isn't it?  I don't want to entice or seduce men like the bad woman in Proverbs.  Those girls aren't wicked or rotten."

"There really is no difference, Adeline.  The clothes that you envy other girls wearing?  It is seductive and enticing to men.  The freedom that you long for?  It will cause a man to lust, even causing him to act upon his lust if he is not controlled by the Word of God.  'Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?  Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?' (Prov. 6:27-28).  When it comes down to it, Adeline, there is a dark though perhaps hidden reason behind your envy and longing to be like other girls.  A woman feels such exhilarating freedom if she knows she can entice a man with her beauty, and particularly her immodesty.  However, this is wrong, and more importantly, this is sin.  I know, because all women are the same.  We want to use our power, but always for evil."

"These worldly girls, they're just pleasing to the eye for a time.  They are eye-catchers.  Needless to say, they don't have the true beauty of the hidden heart that will keep a man enticed all his life.  Outward beauty fades, and one day they will have lost all manner of physical beauty that they flaunt right now.  One day they will be old women who have lost their girlish figures.  If it is your desire to dress like the world, you too will be admired by all men.  Because men are visually-stimulated, they are pleased by shapely legs and too much skin.  But that admiration will fade with time.  Do you want to win a man with your outward beauty, or the lasting beauty of a godly and pure heart?  The former never last, but with the latter you will keep a man until death do you part."

"You can be part of the world if you want to by dressing the same as other girls you see.  You can become an eye-catcher too, but I must warn you, God strictly forbids it.  Women want to exercise their independence from God by doing what they want and dressing how they want to dress, regardless.  This is sin, dear Adeline, and your father and I do not want a life like this for you.  It is a life that only leads to destruction and only unhappiness and disappointment is found there.  Do you want to be known as 'loose,' 'easy,' and 'floozy'?  Proverbs gives us many admonishments against the adulterous and seductive woman."  She picked up Adeline's well-worn Bible.

'For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: but her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword.  Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.  Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them.  Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth.  Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house.'  -Proverbs 5:3-8

'For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: to keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.  Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.  For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulterous will hunt for the precious life.'  -Proverbs 6:23-26

'For at the window of my house I looked through my casement, and beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house.  In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night: and behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart.  (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.)  So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him, I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows.  Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee.  I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt.  I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.  Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves.  For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey: he hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed.  With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him.  He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life.  Harken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth.  Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths.  For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her.  Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.' -Proverbs 7:6-27

'A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing.  For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city, to call passengers who go right on their ways: whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.  But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.' -Proverbs 9:13-18

'As a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.' -Proverbs 11:22

'For a whore is a deep ditch; and a strange woman is a narrow pit.  She also lieth in wait as for a prey, and increaseth the transgressors among men.' -Proverbs 23:27-28

“Adeline, do not make the mistake of envying the immodesty and freedom of the world.  As I said before, and as Proverbs clearly shows us, it is a life that leads only to destruction.  Never doubt that you are beautiful just the way God made you (Psalm 139:14), and in fact, your modesty and the purity of your heart makes you ten times better than the girls of the world.  The man who wins your heart will have found more beauty in you than all other women combined, because you have beauty that lasts—beauty that can only come from God.  Don’t worry about being pleasing to the eye.  Any woman can do that with the right dress and makeup.  Work on becoming pleasing to the heart.  I’m not saying that you have to be frumpy and out of style, for God wants us to take care of our bodies so that we might bring Him glory (1 Cor. 6:19-20); I’m saying that one day a man will be captivated by not only your outward beauty, but also the beauty that shines from within.  Don’t worry about these other girls who receive all the attention because they know how to snare men.  Neither should you envy those of your friends who profess to be Christians yet dress like the world. Christ explicitly declared that we are not to be of this world in any form or fashion, including how we dress (1 John 2:15-17).”

“Dear Adeline, I cannot stress enough the importance of remaining pure, even in your heart.  If you waste your time longing and wishing to look like the girls of this world, you are compromising your purity of mind.  Think on what is true (Phil. 4:8).  The truth is you are a different sort of eye-catcher.  I’m sure those girls down on the street look at you and wonder why you don’t dress like they do.  After all, it’s the norm these days to flash off your body.  Girls and guys alike may sneer and scoff at the way you dress and behave, but I’m sure underneath all that false bravado they can’t help wondering why you dress and do what you do.  You are a mystery, because you are different.  Your difference sticks out like a sore thumb, but not in the bad way you think.  People stop and wonder, and maybe even think how pretty and quaint you look—something that just stepped out of an old-fashioned movie.  Men will treat you like a lady because you dress and act like one.  But if you look like all the other girls, you will be treated just like the ‘easy catch’ you portray.  You practically invite a man’s evil thoughts and actions by your dress, unless your dress declares that you are not out to gain their attention and perversion.  True men will respect and honor a true woman—a woman who acts and looks like a lady.”

“You have power, just like every other woman.  The question is, will you use it for your own self-glorification, or use it to glorfy God?  Think about that for a while.”

Adeline’s mother rose from the bed and patted Adeline’s shoulder.  “You are worth so much more that this world has to offer.  If you buy into the lie that the rest of the world has bought into, one day you will regret your decision because your life will not bring forth true happiness.  You can only have a wonderful and fulfilling life if it is lived according to God’s Word.  I know you don’t want to waste your life; therefore don’t waste your thoughts by wishing you were something different than you are.  Beware of the eye-catchers that tempt you with their allurement.  Nothing good comes of it.”

Adeline sniffled and wiped tears from her eyes.  She nodded and smiled through her tears up at her mother.  “Thanks, Mama.  I know better than to think this way, but sometimes it just gets me down and I start to believe the lies that deep down inside of me I know are not true.”  She rose and threw her arms around her mother.  “That talk was just what I needed.  I want to use my power for good.  It’s just so hard to not envy the world’s standards of what ‘beauty’ is.”

Adeline’s mother smiled against her daughter’s hair and hugged her tighter.  “That’s my girl.  I knew you didn’t really want a life like the girls you see.  All women are tempted with that lie, even me, and it is a daily battle to fight against our flesh.  But it is our duty as Christian women to protect not only our purity, but also the purity of the men who view us.  We have a huge responsibility, so we have to be very careful.  But you know what, men, and more importantly God, will honor us for it.  We have to faithfully purpose that we will not become a world’s eye-catcher, but instead be an example for women of this world to see and follow.”

Adeline smiled, finally at peace, and thankful for the wisdom of her mother.  “Yes Mama.”


Joy said...

This was a beautifully written story, that spoke a really convicting message, Rachel! Thank you so much for writing and sharing it here.

By the way, I am writing a post on Not An Average Girl, about Homemaking and a woman's calling to be a wife and mother, who really it is a noble calling. It is quite a challenging post to write, but I am praying the Lord will help me. I just wanted to ask if it is okay, if I quoted (with reference) certain paragraphs from one or two of your blog posts on the issue of godly womanhood please?

God bless!
~Joy @

Rachel said...

My pleasure, Joy! And yes, you may indeed "quote" me if you wish. I would be honored! :-)