I was trying to write this post on modesty, and then I realised I was way too cheeky. So I scrapped the first version and am now re-writing the post from the position of someone who struggles with modesty.
I’m 38 now, overweight and knackered from my 3 kids – which helps. It was much more of a struggle when I was younger and totally hot and had loads of energy. In someways it is actually a relief to be too tired to be bothered about how I look, and all that male attention I used to get is really the last thing I want nowadays. However, I’m not dead yet. I think it is important to look nice. But there is a difference between looking nice and looking sexy.
The truth is, if you are a woman and you have a pulse, men are going to find you attractive. It took me many years and many prayers before it dawned on me that being a woman comes with a huge amount of responsibility. It also helped when I started to learn about how porn effects a mans brain to the point where it can quite easily become a fully fledged addiction. Suddenly the smug ego trip I used to get from all the attention changed into the horrifying emptiness of the thought that some of those men would actually be aiming for holiness and I was causing them to stumble.
I started to think about how I was dressing, but quickly realised that modesty is much, much more than just the clothes we wear. It is attitude, behaviour, motivation. Lets face it – it is possible to be covered up from head to toe and still lick an ice-lolly in an immodest way. You see my point?
It is possible to wear a burka, a space suit or bin bag and STILL flash that smile and bat those eyelashes. Modesty is not just about how we present ourselves on the outside, but also what out motivations are on the inside.
I wanted to be desired by the men and envied by the women. But it was all very much under the surface. I don’t think I was even totally aware of it myself. I wanted attention. I wanted to feel special. I wanted to feel loved and adored. I wanted to feel successful. Modern western society taught me that I would gain these things by being sexually appealing.
But my desires were not fulled by love or goodness. They were fulled by fear. The truth is that I had a self esteem problem. Deep down I didn’t believe I was special, or lovable, and so what I was trying to do was to prove to myself that I was. The problem was that the attention I was getting from men was not fulled by love or goodness either – it was fulled by lust, which meant that I was never finding the attention and love I so desperately needed – which only made me try harder to find it by becoming more and more appealing. It is a vicious circle – and it only gets harder as we age.
If I am honest, I do still struggle with modesty, not so much in a sexual way now, but in a reality kind of way. Even now I still have echos of those deep fears that I am somehow not appealing enough as a person, and it is all too easy to paint that smile on and present a version of myself on social media that is more appealing than the real person sitting behind the keyboard. You do it too…
I am finding that the more I meditate on how Christ sees me, the less concerned I am becoming about how other people see me – or even how I see myself. Ironically, I have trouble accepting His love. Perhaps because I still don’t really believe I am worthy of it – which of course I am not, but He chooses to give it to me anyway. I hold my crucifix and still can’t figure that one out. With Him there is no need to try. There is no need for hair dye or botox or breast implants. He created me – He knows all my flaws, inside and out, and He still loves me. For some reason I find that extremely painful and overwhelming and often find myself holding my crucifix and wiping my tears. But I guess healing does hurt sometimes.
And the real punchline here is that my whole life – while I have been trying my hardest to get peoples attention left right and centre, I missed the fact that He was there all along trying to get mine.