January 9, 2014

Pretty Earrings and Men-Pleasers

This has been sitting in my "unpublished posts" for months.

It isn't a flowery post and it speaks far too much of my own faults and failures to be comfortable to write or read. It points fingers. It frustrates and encourages at the same time.

I'd like to write about something that I struggle with every single day. Do I do what I do to please God? Or do I question every action I take in order to please other people?

I like pretty earrings. Dangling big shiny earrings. I'm not talking about anything the size of a pie plate but they aren't tiny diamond studs either. I've always liked them. Not to draw attention to myself or to make my appearance look better but because I think they're feminine, dressy, and simply pretty.

However, every time I get ready to go out or go to church, I pull out a pair of those earrings and question whether I should wear them or not. Not because my conscience is convicted against them, not because I think they're inappropriate or too flashy, but because what will other Christians think of me wearing them.

My inner monologue usually goes something like this:

"These will match this outfit. I like these earrings."
"But...would a missionary wife wear them?"
"There isn't anything wrong with them."
"I probably won't be able to wear them on deputation...people will think I'm not conservative enough."
"Who cares what they think?"
"Well, I guess I'm supposed to look the part of a missionary so...I shouldn't."
"Wait, I'm just going shopping, not church, so they'll be fine."
"Why I am I even doing this to myself?!"

And the earrings either end up back in the jewelry box or in my ears depending on which side wins that particular argument for the day.

Something occurred to me the other day though and while I hope it will end my struggle over those earrings, I know better.

Fact is, when it comes to other people, you can't win. Ever.

Someone will always think something about you isn't right. They may have an issue with your hairstyle, your choice of shoes, what kind of car you drive, the way you raise your children, whether you paint your nails or not, and yes, even the kind of jewelry you wear. Some even go as far as to comment on how many children you do or do not have! If you're a missionary, all of this is accelerated to a whole other level.

I'm not going to turn this post into a judge or don't judge issue. That isn't what it is about. What I am saying is, if my choice whether or not to wear those earrings is based on what other Christians may or may not think of me then I need to evaluate who I'm seeking to please.

If I feel convicted about the type of jewelry I wear because I believe the Lord is telling me no, then I have the responsibility to not wear them. If they are a stumbling-block in some way to another then I should question my decision. If it's because I'm afraid what other Christians will think of my walk with the Lord...then I have a bigger issue than the earrings.

When talking about a woman's outward adorning, the Bible says, "But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price."

That meek and quiet spirit that comes from within is beautiful to God and it certainly doesn't come from conforming to what other people think I should do. Instead, it comes from a quiet heart that is willing to obey Him in every aspect of life and to follow His leading even when deciding on my jewelry.

It is my heart's desire that others will look at me and see beyond the earrings to a peaceful, Spirit-filled heart. Maybe if my character reflects enough of Christ, they won't even worry about my "pretty earrings" to begin with and will instead crave to better know the Jesus that saved me and made me His child.

Ultimately, I should worry less about the earrings and more about my heart.

I don't know. This whole post isn't written very well and I feel even as I finish up that my true intent or purpose hasn't come through. It's a muddled mess in my mind still but I don't know how else to put it. Perhaps my feelings on the whole matter are completely backwards?

Any thoughts?