Thursday, January 11, 2007

To Be Beautiful

1 Peter 3 has caused many stirrings over time. It's that first line that has caused so much confusion and turmoil. "Wives, submit to your husbands." I cringe every time someone mentions a literal interpretation. I remember during the time I worked in a deli a new woman started working there, and she was talking about getting married soon, and that once she got married, she would become a Baptist, because that's the church her fiance belonged to, and his church believed in Wives submitting to their husbands. At the time I was in college and a little ignorant, but I like to think that as their marriage took place and moved forth, that she accepted her new faith with a whole heart and realized that her church wasn't talking about literal submission. I just remember how it weighed on her sometimes, something would come up and we would all just be chatting like co-workers do, and she would just sigh and say "I have to do what my husband wants." And for the longest time I had this misconception that strict Baptist churches adhered to that.

Of course, I don't have that in my head anymore, I understand more of what that verse is saying, and maybe someday it will become a topic for discussion here. What I actually wanted to talk about is further on in 1 Peter 3, verses 3-6 to be specific.

"3Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. 5For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, 6like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear."

This verse is written specifically to women. I like reading this verse. It's another way for me to avoid temptation actually. I think it's natural to want to look good, and there are times where I think to myself that I should splurge and go pick up some new jewelry, or a haircut, or go have a make-up consultation so I can learn to really dazzle. This verse is a wonderful reminder that those things are not important in the least. And in return, it is easier for me to save my husbands income for more important purposes. I get annoyed sometimes with my husband when he talks about how beautiful I am and how much he loves me. Because my physical self looks in the mirror and thinks about how I've changed since we first started dating. But then I stop and realize that what my husband sees and what he is in love with is not my shell. Not my outside appearance, but what's on the inside.

And right here in the Bible I have such wonderful confirmation of that. "It should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." I love that part. The unfading beauty of a quiet and gentle spirit. When I think of that, I think of the old movies. I think of an exiting screen shot of a determined woman, standing alone, the wind whipping through her hair, her eyes gleaming with determination without saying a single word. The gentle spirit is not a pot-stirrer, rather a gentle spirit seeks to quietly resolve conflict. This doesn't mean the quiet spirit sits by and lets things happen around her- she speaks up when it is important and when it matters.

And then there's the last verse there. "Do not give way to fear." Boy is that easy to do. It is so easy to let imagination run wild and fear for something. That happens to me all the time. I'll be driving and Zander will be in the back seat singing away with his songs, and I'll just get this irrational fear about being hit by another vehicle. Or I'll hear fire trucks outside while Abigail is at school, and I become instantly afraid that something awful has happened at school. It's during those times that I find myself relying on prayer more and more. I'll pray that God take away that fear and continue to be a guardian over my little ones. It doesn't do any good to be irrational, it does me well to remember to be a gentle and quiet spirit, and turn to God first.

After reading these verses today, I can only pray that I continue to grow more and more beautiful everyday. It's a little strange to think of that in the spiritual sense, but it's there nonetheless. I can also pray that I remain humble, for the last thing I want is to become puffed up. And that will be a topic for another day I think.


Claire said...

That verse is special to me and is something I pray God develops in me...a beautiful, quiet and gentle spirit that is pleasing to Him! I don't think that it is wrong to dress up our physical bodies, I think that physical attraction is important in a marriage (and I don't doubt that your husband does find you physically beautiful AS WELL as internally beautiful) but more attention should definitely be paid to our internal self as that is what will last.

I'll be interested to see what you think about submission to the husband by the wife. I think that if the husband is also obeying God's instructions to him, submission is not a chore and will direct the family in the right path. It also doesn't mean doing every little, tiny thing he says (i.e., being his slave) but is something that comes from love and respect. If he is leading as Christ leads and loves the church, then where he directs will be beneficial. This is one reason we are told not to be unequally yoked. you said, more on that later! :-)

Erika said...

Claire, I am certain that we are thinking along the same lines as far as submission to a husband goes.

And I definitely don't think that paying attention to our outsides is wrong, but it shouldn't be a priority, or it becomes a vanity. :-)