The awesome conviction of the Holy Spirit, juxtaposed with relevant circumstances, made me revisit a subject I hadn't thought of much since the days of middle school puberty: modesty.
I was always the good girl growing up, and I mean always. I followed dress code. I wore one-piece bathing suits. You name it, I did it--I could've been the cover girl for "Stuff Christians Like". At the same time, I longed for the boys to think I was pretty. I wanted to steal breaths at "Junior-Senior Banquet" (our equivalent of prom) armed with an elegant, long red dress as much as I did walking down the hallway armed with shining eyes and a smile.
Thus began the Freudian suppression of the insuppressible desire to be desired. Confused and warring values created prudishness, since I didn't know a way to emulate beauty (a healthy want) other than the "bad" way. Fear and legalism--that dastardly pair that almost always go together--gnawed at me.
During my junior and senior year of high school, the legalism began to break down. By sophomore year of college, I recognized that God had given me a good face and body, and started to appreciate the ways he made me beautiful, which is what I wanted all along. However, the revelation meant I had power in my hands that I didn't know I had. Forgive me the quote, but as Uncle Ben tells Spiderman, "With great power comes great responsibility!"
I conclude that beauty is a power that all women have--when we wield it, relationships change on all sides, for better or for worse.
My personal struggles didn't present a problem until this year. Immodesty (even "subtle" immodesty) was just another form of my age-old search for affirmation in all the wrong places. As I tried to figure out my value by looking through the eyes of man, my subconscious remembered I would be admired if I wore shorter shorts and lower shirts, which I did, which became increasingly shorter and lower as I pushed the boundaries. Sin is a lovely lure, you know.
Finally, after a conversation with one of my best friends, Katie, and my mentor Ann (both women I admire and want to imitate), I decided it was time to deal with the fact that while I've always maintained purity of body, I have not maintained purity of mind.
Chris didn't know my underlying motivations for my actions; even so, God would not allow me to get by with a mere show of godly wifehood. The fact that I would dress to impress any man but Chris had to go. I want to honor my husband--I want to be for his eyes only, something inherent in the vows I spoke that is a means of showing my faithfulness and desire for him.
Most importantly, though, I want to honor God. Immodesty is symptomatic of my disrespect for myself as God's creation ("Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?"), as well as dependence on man and out and out idolatry.
I am memorizing Psalm 24:1-4 this week, and the last portion echoed in my mind as I contemplated these things: "Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false..."
Why do modesty and purity matter? For crying out loud, what's the point?
The point is that no one can serve the idol of one's body or human opinion, and serve God and represent Christ at the same time.
There's just no room for two great loves.