While indulging in reading one of my favorite fashion blogs, I came across this most interesting post from Aussie blogger Cassie, called “From Frightened to Femme.” When reading her story about how a shy, nerdy girl became a confident fashionista, I saw a lot of myself in it…down to our love of books, Daria, and other areas of geekdom.
Furthermore, at some point in our lives, we wanted to break out of our shells and express ourselves through our outward styles. Yet we were afraid if we did that, we too would become shallow, vapid people. Since we did not grow up pretty and popular, we wondered if such triviality was worth the hassle and expense.
In her post, Cassie writes:
“I had decided at about 12 there were two types of girls in the world – girls like me, and girls like Them. Girls like Them were the pretty girls, the skinny girls, the girls who wore makeup and read Cosmo without being embarrassed about it. They were the ones who dated the good looking boys, the athletes, and They made fun of me for reading at lunchtime. They were silly, giggling idiots (or so I thought) and therefore everything They liked was also silly. I didn’t care how I looked, because that was something They did – I was better than that. I was better than Them…
I’d missed all the teenage mucking around that teaches girls how to put on mascara without poking their eyes out, because I’d been too busy reading and scowling at people over the top of my glasses. Despite being in my late 20’s by this time, I found myself in the awkward position of eyeballing a makeup counter seriously for the first time, and having no idea whatsoever where to even start…I wasn’t even sure it was worth giving it a try. The most expensive concealer in the world wasn’t going to make my teeth straight, and a perfect manicure wouldn’t make me any less fat…It was easier to stick to the things I knew I was good at – being opinionated, reading, talking too much. Being fashionable, being stylish, being femme – my fear and uncertainty told me these things were just not for me.”
I’m not going discuss my similarities (I already wrote about it here), but I felt refreshed knowing I was not alone in my thoughts. Especially hearing from someone across the bigger pond, thus illustrating how these kinds of struggles are not endemic to your school, or your city, or your country.
We fully disclosed our guilt by having total disdain the interests of the pretty and popular, but also desiring style and beauty. We were also willing to allow ourselves to be renewed, to be OK with changing how we saw things and openly adopt interests that may have initially been uncomfortable.
However, I’m not here just to write about how Cassie and I are kindred spirits, but how her post made me reflect on how sometimes, as Christians, we can fall into the trap of judging others who do not fit the mold of how a Christian should look and act. I have also noticed we often diminish our negative feelings and secular interests, limiting them to only what’s shiny, happy, and holy. Like…only watching G-rated movies, popping pills for bad feelings, or listenining only to Christian radio.
Though we don’t intend to, we often take such pleasure scowling at people over the tops of our Bibles at those who are anxious, depressed, or backsliding. What’s even more disturbing is that we become haughty without realizing it.
Perhaps we see people’s behavior as too “worldly”, their interests are too “secular,” or they are just “superficial Christians” who were not really saved. We may lean towards thinking there are certain “levels” of being saved, like some people are more “saved” than others. You either are, or you are not.
Accepting Christ and how He saved our wretched souls from the grave is a very profound act. For those who accept this, the Holy Spirit works within us to transform and renew us, to become more Christ-like. Naturally, this includes wanting to move away from things that are of this world (Romans 8:1-6). When the Holy Spirit reveals things to us, so many things we see or thoughts we have appear “foolish.” And boy does it feel awesome to call it out!
However, we have to be careful about how we approach this. Just as we can become vain about outward appearance, we can easily become prideful in our ability to outwardly exercise our faith, resist temptation, find time to pray and read Scripture, or any other perceived “Godly” mannerisms.
Perhaps you revealed something rather “unsavory” about yourself to another believer, only to have that person slightly smirk and say, “Oh, I don’t really struggle with that” or “Tee hee, I don’t watch those kind of shows, they are sooo vulgar.” As if they are bounds above your flaws and indulgences. Or, they might allude to the fact that you do not have enough prayer and faith in your life. It may sound well-meaning, but really just made you feel like crap.
Sometimes, when I experience a negative emotion like jealousy or wrath, I want to tamp it down because I “shouldn’t” feel like that, or that because I am a Christian I am sooo above these petty emotions. As if I am some sort of super-intellectual being who has evolved to some higher plane of existence. But as much as I wish I could be a Vulcan like Mr. Spock, I am still just a human being with busted up logic and feelings.
Like Cassie and I thought we were “better” than those popular people because we were scorned by our environment, we often think we are somehow transcendent of things “of the flesh” because we have Christ, who was also scorned. Yet since we are all flawed, and salvation through Christ is a gift available to everyone (Acts 2:21), we are not special snowflakes in this regard. Furthermore, it can be comforting to know that we’re not all that deviant, especially if we’ve had days where we feel crappy, abnormal, rejected, weird, or unworthy (1 Corinthians 10:13). Which is, unfortunately, everyone on this planet—except this friend. Everyone has at least one of them on their Facebook wall ;- ).
While our paths and struggles may differ, and we are uniquely created with regards to our gifting, none of us is more perfectly made than another. Though it may be tempting to revert to those comfortable, elastic sweatpants of downward-comparison and judgment, don’t be afraid to let the Holy Spirit suggest us a fresh new look every day (Romans 12:2).