This is a link that began a cycle of thought for me. Because of it, I began to ask the Lord about His thoughts on vanity, beauty and appearance, and especially, my vanity, beauty and appearance. See, many women have this powerful tool, a weapon even, that we are so used to using that we are often unaware that we are even using it.
It feels really nice to be adored. And there is a longing within us girls to be loved. And often, being wanted feels like being loved. And often without knowing it, and sometimes with full knowledge, we pursue being wanted - maternally, sensually, sometimes desperately. Sometimes, we use the tools we possess to manipulate subtly. They are not always obvious, but they are powerful and can be destructive.
Proverbs gave me a clear picture of a yucky part of myself this morning. It was a blow from the Lord, and those always hit profoundly close to home. Too close for comfort.
Starting at 7:6. a compilation of a few versions.
“For I looked out through the wood-work at the window of my house. And I saw among the empty-headed and empty-hearted a young man without wisdom and understanding. He passed through the street near her corner and took the path to her house. It was dusk, the evening coming on, the darkness thickening into night. See, a woman comes to meet him. She is dressed like a woman who sells the use of her body, and with a heart that wants to fool and trap someone (NIV says she is "with crafty intent"; Amplified Bible says she's sly and cunning of heart; KJV says she's a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil [which is Old French for subtle] of heart). She is boisterous and rebellious; her feet do not remain at home; she is now in the streets, now in the squares where people gather. She lies in wait at every corner. So she catches him and kisses him. With a hard face she says to him...Come, let us take our fill of love until morning. Let us make ourselves happy with love. Soon she has him eating out of her hand, bewitched by her honeyed speech. All at once he follows her, like a bull going to be killed, like a wild animal goes into a trap, until an arrow cuts through him. Like a bird that hurries into the net, little knowing that it will cost him his life.”
Holy mackerel. Talk about destructive. No, I don’t sit on the street corners just waiting for some naïve youngin to come around so I can be wanted. It’s much more subtle than that and also more unconscious than that. It’s not a blatant intent to kill, destroy and devour, but it is not less destructive because of its subtlety.
So, there are two separate kingdoms fighting for control inside of me. There is my kingdom. One whose king I am who seeks to uplift my own glory (vainglory nonetheless), and whose streetcorners are wrought with cunning hearts and crafty subtlety. One that destroys itself. My kingdom uses my beauty to manipulate and captivate for my own glory. Beauty there, in the pursuit of uplifting myself longs to be seen; and though it is beautiful, cannot be pure.
And there is the Lord’s kingdom. One whose king the Lord is who seeks to uplift His glory in me as His unique creation (that is an image of Himself nonetheless), and whose streetcorners are wrought with gifts that fulfill the best interest of those who walk in it. One that is complete. One whose beauty is not less glorious, less attractive, or less stunning. Beauty in that kingdom is not used as a manipulative tool, but is the result of gloriousness. Beauty there, in the pursuit of uplifting the Lord, cannot be impure.
So the two kingdoms are fighting against each other. Beauty longs to be seen in purity. It longs to not be used as a tool. It longs to be seen in truth, but as long as these two kingdoms fight inside of me, I can’t handle the truth very well. I’m really good at distorting my own beauty so it is no longer a mode of “shewing forth” the Lord’s glory, but a manipulative tool designed to chisel an idol out of myself.
Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ live sin me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loves me and gave himself for me.”
And so, the blow: I still live. And my kingdom still lives. And my heart is divided. And longs for rest from war. It longs for peace and truth, when all things will be unveiled. Who will save me from this body of death?
More reading: 2 Cor. 3, Romans 6-8