Today I'm going to talk about several aspects of life, which I've tied together with the word "externals". These things often seem like they aren't that big of a deal, but they actually have quite a bit of impact on your character, the kind of wife you'll be, and the sort of husband you'll attract.
You knew I'd say that, didn't ya. :) Well, obviously modesty is important, but I'm not going deep into that topic just now. I already did that here, here, here, aaaaaaand here. :) If you didn't see those posts, it would be splendid if you could go ahead and read them. What I do want to show here, though, is how important modesty is to Christian guys who are looking for a wife.
Out of 1,229 guys (of all ages) surveyed, 875 strongly agreed with this statement: "Modesty is an important quality for your future wife to have." Another 297 guys agreed with it.
Listen to some of their comments about this:
Age 21: It is absolutely my very first criteria. Immodestly dressed ladies are the first people I eliminate as possibilities.
Age 22: I believe modesty is one way for a woman to show that she is committing herself to her husband. She is saying that he is the only one who is going to have the opportunity to enjoy her physical beauty. That would mean a lot to me.
Age 23: It is one of my chief quality because it reveals a lot about her character. Does she want to be known as a hot girl or a godly lady?
Age 17: I feel that it is important to me to get to know who she is as a human being, and person in Christ, rather than how she looks. And it helps a lot if she wears modest clothing that way I can focus better on what she is saying and how she is acting.
Age 15: Modesty is not just an issue of clothes, it also has to do with the heart and the woman's walk with God. A girl who dresses modestly is showing that her heart is right, and that is the kind of woman I intend to marry someday.
Age 17: There is a difference between paranoid modesty, or external (not from the heart) modesty, and true attractive modesty. I want my wife to know the difference, not out of legalism, but out of strong character. =)
Age 40-49: If she's using that kind of bait to hook you, why would she stop after catching her first fish?
I do want to cover a few things other things here, though. One, the clothes you wear really affect how you act and how you are treated. Dress like a lady and you'll be much more prone to behaving like one and being treated like one. Not guaranteed, it's true. But it sure is a lot more likely.
Age 21: I don't want my wife dressing as if she is trying to give herself away to every guy that looks at her. I want her to dress, even before I know her, as a woman who is a precious object that must be won through pure and genuine love, not lust.
And they just go on, and on, and on. Go have a look for yourself!
Another thing I'd like to mention is that it is very important to men, even (especially?) after marriage, that their lady looks attractive. You looking lovely reflects well on him, odd as that may sound. So develop good habits now. I don't mean that you always have to be dressed up, but just that you should make an effort to take care of yourself and your clothing, even if it's just the two of you. And remember, a smiling face goes a loooong way in this department. :)
Now, media and entertainment.
Oh boy... this is a very large, complicated topic.
What you put in your mind is what comes out. Seems incredibly obvious, but-- somehow, all too often, we overlook it. This applies to all forms of entertainment/media: music, books, movies, TV, blogs, and so forth. If the majority of what you listen to/watch/read exemplifies low and ungodly standards, there is no way you are going to develop and live out noble standards in your own life.
Biographies of Christian heros [The Hiding Place, God Knows My Size, God Smuggler, Bruchko, and many many others.], old (or at least old fashioned) non-fiction books about manners and the Christian walk [How to be a Lady, So Much More, Home Making, etc.] fiction books which have high standards [once again, books from around the 1800s are usually best for this--I'd recommend lamplighters.], and etcetera.
I know that for me, personally, this has been a great encouragement and has trained me to value old-fashioned manners and standards and to apply them in my life. It has also helped condition me to be disgusted and deeply saddened by the contrast in our current culture. Since we don't have many opportunities to be around people which such high standards (and thus be automatically conditioned to sort things into the proper folder-- appalling or commendable-- correctly) in real life, the next best thing is to surround yourself with examples in books.
If you want a happy marriage, you're going to need good character. (Meaning this: your normal responses to situations need to be joyful, patient, loving, honest, etc... ones.) And one of the major ways your character develops is through media. The way the people respond in the majority of books, movies, and so on that you read/watch is going to be training you to respond in similar ways. You can't immerse yourself in romance novels and romantic movies and expect to act and think like a pure girl.
While I'm at it, if you read those kinds of books/watch those movies, stop. Right now. Yes, that's an order. :P Throw them away, burn them. Get them away from you. When I was younger, about 14, a well meaning friend gave us some "Christian" romance novels. They were really "clean", you know. Nothing bad. But then I got caught reading them (yes... I was forbidden to read them and did anyways. :P), and Papa explained to me that the reason he didn't want me to read books like that was because it awakened desires (and unrealistic ones at that!) too early. Which... was true. Unfortunately. Now the effects are lessened, but still. Not good. So, please do yourself and your future husband a favor and don't fill your minds with that sort of junk. It'll just set you up for heartbreak and/or disappointment later on.
Now, this one might be a new thought for some of you. The way your spaces are decorated and maintained reflects your personality, yes, But they also affect you. And your future home.
Please tell me none of you need this injunction... but if you have posters of guys on your walls, please take them down. Like, now. Thank you. I don't think I need to explain myself there...
Even if you don't even have your own room (I share a rather small room with my three sisters), you can begin decorating, organizing and cleaning now. I'm sure you have at least some small area to call your own-- start there!
Personally, I have my bed, the wall space near my bed (I'm on the top bunk), my hook, my box in the bathroom, and my desk. I know, not very impressive. But! [S]he who is faithful in little... ;) When I was about 14, I decided that I wanted a clean, organized, pretty house. So, I decided I had better start practicing now. I made it a habit to keep my areas tidy and regularly organize and clean them. I made a pillow for my bed, and several verse cards for my desk, among other things. I have papers on the wall near my bed reminding me of things to pray for. I have gathered a little collection of unique containers (most of them were gifts or things I found around the home and adopted...) that hold my letters, papers, random stuff, pens and pencils, etc. And, somehow, they all go together. (I think I have a knack for that... taking a bunch of random things and making them look alright together. haha.) When you see my spaces, you will probably come away with several conclusions (though I have never taken a survey on this, so I might be wrong.): One, I love God, or at least His word. Two, I like nature. Three, I like things neat, but not sterile. :P (I actually use my spaces, so at least several times a day they won't be very tidy [like my desk right now... it has a Bible, a camera, several papers, my planner, an address book, and probably some other things]... and sometimes they even get a little dirty. But I always take the time to tidy and reorganize.)
Even if it doesn't seem like it, the vast majority of men like having a tidy and tasteful house. Just ask your dad.
Another thing you can do is take responsibility for an area of your house-- for example, right now our kitchen is my jurisdiction ("area of influence", for those who haven't watched the Duggars and then were curious enough to look it up in the dictionary). But I'm getting ahead of myself. On to more externals.
Yes... I have labeled friends as an "external". I'm sorry, friends who are reading this... I don't mean to sound rude or anything. ;)
However, friends are outside of us, and they do have a powerful impact on the way we will eventually turn out. So, choose wisely. Yes, it is excellent and admirable to have "ministry friends"-- ones you pour yourself into. But it is also very important that you have other friends who will build you up and encourage you in your walk with God.
Proverbs 13:20: He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.
You really will become like the people you are constantly with. Don't think you are strong enough to be constantly surrounded by worldly thinking and still come out with a Christian mindset and actions. It ain't happening, sister. Surround yourself with girls who talk way more of God than of guys, and also watch out for (and avoid as much as possible) feminist attitudes towards men.
And, finally, hair.
Very briefly: as an adult female friend of mine told me, guys like girls with long hair. Very simple. Keep it long, girls. And, also, if you'd like tips for taking care of long hair and keeping it healthy, feel free to ask me. :)
So: think about your "externals" and pray for wisdom in making the necessary changes. :)
And then go here for Part Five. ;)