God Wants The Real You

Unless you’re listening to a branch of Christianity that teaches God doesn’t expect anything from you, Christians talk about change quite a bit. We change our lives when we commit to leaving sin behind and following Jesus. We change how we think as we put on the mind of Christ. We change from being outside the faith to being grafted into God’s chosen people.

There are some things, though, that God doesn’t want to change about you. Or at least, that’s not quite the best way to describe what He’s doing. Rather, He wants to reveal the “you” that He created you to be. He doesn’t want us to get rid of our individuality, our gifts, or our true personalities (though it might feel that way at times).

The way God transforms us often involved quite a bit of change. But it’s not about turning you into someone you’re not. It’s more of a revelation of the truest, best version of you.

He Sees All Of You

God wants a relationship with the real you. I’ve been reading Captivating by John and Stasi

Eldrege, and this quote caught my eye:

He wants your deep heart, that center place within that is the truest you. He is not interested in intimacy with the woman you think you are supposed to be. He wants intimacy with the real you (p. 123)

Though this book is specifically written to women, what I just quoted applies to both genders. Throughout the ages, God calls to our hearts. He longs for a relationship with people who aren’t going to hide themselves from Him. Read more

Another 5 Favorite Proverbs

Another Five Favorite Proverbs by marissabaker.wordpress.comI’ve finished making my way through a study of Proverbs, in preparation for my church’s women’s group discussion about favorite proverbs that is taking place this afternoon. My first post covered five proverbs from chapters 1-10, the second covered five from chapters 11-20, and this last post is for chapters 21-31. I still haven’t decided which of these 15 is my favorite, but at least I’ve narrowed it down to 15.

11: Reputation

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold. (Prov. 22:1)

I just heard a sermonette last week about God giving people names with meanings that fit the roles He designated them for — Jesus = savior; Paul = small; Peter = a little stone; Abraham = father of a multitude. From what I understand, names in Hebrew thought are inseparable from the essence, character, and reputation of a person. Therefore, it is better to have a good reputation, a name worthy of respect, than to have great riches.  The word for “favor,” which is described as better than silver and gold, is from the word chen (H2580), and it means “favor, kindness, grace, loveliness, charm, preciousness.”

12: Deliverance

For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity. (Prov. 24:16)

It doesn’t promise that if you are a just person you will never fall — it says you will be able to get back up rather than fall deeper into mischief. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous,” David said, “but the Lord delivers him out of them all” (Ps. 34:19). If — when — we fall, we  can be assured that God is holding our hand and will help pick us back up (Ps. 37:24).

13: Friends

Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. (Prov. 27:6)

King Lear would have been a very different play had the titular character been heeding this advice. When a friend wounds you, it is generally 1) an accident, or 2) with a view to your good. David wrote, “Let the righteous strike me; it shall be a kindness. And let him rebuke me; it shall be as excellent oil; let my head not refuse it” (Ps. 141.5). It might make us angry at first, but if we are honest with ourselves, we can often see that we were reproved out of love, and that we become better people with a stronger friendship as a result. In contrast, listening to the flattering words of those who secretly seek our hurt can only lead to grief.

14: Guardrail

Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. (Prov. 30:5)

“The Guardrail,” from joyfultoons.com

Here we leave Solomon’s proverbs and read “the words of Agur the son of Jakeh” (Prov. 30:1). This is a two-fold promise. Firstly, that God’s words are free of imperfections. As such, it is all profitable and no part should be ignored or neglected (2 Tim. 3:16). Secondly, that the Lord shields those who trust in Him. This was a frequent subject in Psalms, such as “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Ps. 84:11). Connecting these two points is the fact that God’s commands are designed to protect us, as illustrated by this comic I saw on Facebook the other day.

15: Beauty

Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. (Prov. 31:30)

This is from the end of the virtuous woman passage contained in “words of King Lemuel, the utterance which his mother taught him” (Prov. 31:1). When I was younger, I latched on to this verse as a substitute for my perceived lack of beauty — if I couldn’t be pretty, I could at least fear God and earn praise that way. As I’ve become more comfortable with myself and more mature as a Christian, my views on this verse have changed. I concentrate more on the last half of the verse, asking “How can I be a woman who fears the Lord?”

Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel — rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. (! Pet. 3:3-4)

Living With Style, Class, and Grace

Book cover: How to Be a Hepburn in a Hilton World: The Art of Living with Style, Class, and GraceI recently finished a delightful little book called How to Be a Hepburn in a Hilton World: The Art of Living with Style, Class, and Grass. It is written by a publicist for Warner Bros. Records named Jordan Christy. The basic idea behind the book is that in the years since Audrey Hepburn graced the silver screen, our culture has come to uphold standards of behavior that are simply unacceptable for smart girls to follow. This book sets out to show “modern ladies how they can be beautiful, intelligent, and fun while retaining values and morals.”

One of the most welcome things about this book is that it is not a Christian guide to modesty. I’m not saying those types of books can’t be helpful, but it was refreshing to find a book written for women who want to (or have to) work in a business setting instead of on an idylic homestead. It tells girls you can be modern as well as feminine, that you don’t have to wear ankle-length skirts to be modest, and that acting like a lady can be fun instead of restrictive. I think it would be a great book to give girls who feel like the commonly presented Christian ideals of womanhood are shutting them out (for the record, this does not include me, but does describe some of my close friends).

Just to be fair, there were some things I did not like about the book. In an effort (I assume) to keep the text relevant to modern readers, Christy uses many examples of actresses, characters, and reality shows. There were enough to become excessive (and I didn’t recognize most of them). Her writing style might also seem blunt and off-putting to some readers.

Best Quotes

Chapter 1: Keep Your Chin Up and Your Skirt Down

“If we want [guys’] undivided attention for a bout 2.4 seconds, we should keep wearing our glittery minis and doing the bend-and-snap. But if we want a real relationship with a real gentleman, we should just keep being our smart, classy, fabulous selves.” Or, for those who’ve never worn a mini skirt in their lives, don’t be tempted to compromise.

Chapter 2: Words, Words, Words

This chapter advised reading and increasing our vocabularies so we can become better conversationalists. She also covers knowing when to speak and when to keep silent, quoting George Eliot: “Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact.”

Chapter 3: Use Some Elbow Grease

“Unfortunately, that hard-work-doesn’t-hurt mentality appears to be in short supply these days. Why? It’s become painfully clear that our society just doesn’t support a sincere work ethic anymore.” Be that as it may, if you want to be a classy, respectable young woman, you have to be willing to work.

Chapter 4: Choose Your Friends Wisely

We need to find friends “who will help us kick our own vices, not just drag us down in the mire with them and theirs. If we’re struggling with self-image and potential eating-disorder thoughts … we need to find ourselves some normal, curvy friends who will take us to counseling and won’t care if we’re a size 2 or a 10.”

Chapter 5: Let Him Come Calling

“Regardless of the guy’s current status, bank account, background, or beliefs, if he’s interested, he will do the pursuing. There’s no need to interfere with the ways of nature! Doing so will only scare him off.” This is one chapter I had a little disagreement with. She doesn’t allow for anything in between completely-ignore-the-guy and obnoxiously-pester-him-with-text-messages-every-few-hours. If you’re already friends, shouldn’t you be allowed to Facebook or e-mail him once in a while to keep in touch?

Chapter 6: Dress to Impress

Two quotes this time: “While it may seem frivolous to some, our personal style does more talking than we ever could about ourselves — and we want to make sure it’s saying nice things!” “While it can be tempting to want to keep up with the current inseam trends, the respect we’ll receive from not exposing our chest region and upper thighs is worth so much more than the five-seconds stares we’d get from a bunch of ogling buffoons.”

Chapter 7: Less Is More

“Our society is undoubtedly of the flashier/louder/faster/stronger mentality, and for some reason makeup tends to fall into the same category, but it really should be placed indefinitely in the less-is-more category. … We need to realize makeup is a simply something to enhance certain features — not a daily necessity that needs to be applied from sunup to sundown.”

Chapter 8: Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

“You can healthfully and happily maintain your weight without taking any weird voodoo pills or sprinting a marathon on the treadmill every week. You simply need to find a steady balance between those leafy greens and that Sprinkles cupcake. Let’s become the new poster children for happy, healthy young women.”