Only Skin Deep.

August 8, 2008

(For those of you who are interested, the entire conference notes for all sessions and seminars are now available for free! Click on “Conference Media” & create a log-in to access them! … haha, I sound like a pop-up ad.)

“True modesty can only come from a person who wants to show the world how great God is, not how great she is.”

“Outward beauty without inner beauty is a monstrosity (see Proverbs 11:22).”

Martha Peace was Session #2’s speaker. She jokingly used Elyse Fitzpatrick, Session #1’s speaker, as an example of vanity because Elyse had painted her toe nails and painstakingly put polka dots on them (hahaha). Her message was titled “Only Skin Deep: Understanding the Vanity of External Beauty.”

I’m never surprised that this is an issue addressed at almost every women’s conference & in almost every women’s interest book. I appreciated Martha Peace’s message, because it is an ongoing struggle for women from any walk of life or culture to think rightly about external beauty, about physical appearance.

She pointed out how vanity, how consumed we are with our image, is a part of Narcissism (the love of self, a sin). “We may not pine away as [the Greek youth Narcissus] did, but we are consumed with our image, too. We become depressed, compare ourselves to other women, fall into self-pity …”

Here are some of her session notes:

Vanity is something that is empty, futile, vain, or worthless. Vanity (in the sense of the love of beauty) is an “inflated pride in one’s appearance.”

Be discerning about possible signs of vanity in yourself:
– Overly concerned about how you look.
– Unable to gracious receive compliments …
– Depressed or anxious because “I’m fat.”
– On a quest for thinness that results in abuse of your body.
– Overspend on clothes, hair, makeup, etc.
– Compare self to others & how they look.
– Say things to elicit compliments from others.
– Dress in a sensual or immodest manner.

The world, she said, views vanity as a “body image problem, low self-esteem, hurts from childhood, insecurity, or significance needs not met.” The biblical view, however, is that the woman is “not grateful (I Thes. 5:16-18), [is] not content (I Tim. 6:6), [is] a lover of self (Romans 12:3, 2 Tim. 3:2), lusts for beauty (James 1:14-15), [and is] not motivated by love for God or others but by the love of self and others’ approval (I John 2:15-17).” Ouch, huh?

Sarah, Abraham’s wife, was a beautiful woman, but in I Peter 3:5-6, she was said to be beautiful because of submission to her husband and holiness (hoping in God).

This isn’t to say that we must be “legalistic about dress and make up,” because Colossians 2 reminds us that asceticism and self abasement are of no use against the flesh; but rather that we should “enjoy the freedom the Lord has given,” remembering that that the pursuit of external beauty is a depressing, empty pursuit that is ultimately hopeless. True beauty comes from within!

“We must turn from our passion from loving ourselves and calling attention to ourselves to a passion for God and serving Him regardless of what we look like … That our love and passion for the Lord is what we treasure, [not being] self-consumed and -focused … Not a vain, proud woman, but consumed and enamored of the Lord.”

It was sweet to hear an older woman of the faith exhorting and encouraging the younger ones to follow Christ and love Him in this specific way.

I’ll be camping ’til Monday with my cousins and some family friends’ kids, and you know what that means: no running water (no showers!), no mirrors, no electrical outlets … In short, it’s a good place to put these truths into practice.

Or not :]

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4 Responses to “Only Skin Deep.”

  1. nathan Says:

    these women-focused conferences/sermons/books are so interesting! kinda brings about an element i cant quite fully grasp… but can kinda almost understand (in the underlying principles). fun fun.

  2. caroline Says:

    hey tia, haven’t stopped by your blog in awhile. always encouraged. love this post. makes me miss blogging.. there’s something about written expression that further “matures” and/or “completes” a thought. and i like that built-in accountability factor once your entry goes public. i think i will start blogging again. 🙂

  3. caroline Says:

    oh, this is caroline from sd/berean btw.

  4. tia Says:

    nate: i feel the same way when i read men-focused stuff … the funniest is when they talk to guys about manning up & putting away video games (hehe)

    caroline: of course i know who you are! 😀 i miss you! start a wordpress!!!


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