5 Ways to Starve the Vanity Monster

October 19, 2012

in Everyday Jesus,Womanhood

It’s no wonder they call it a vanity mirror. Does a mirror every do more for me than make me want to look more, change more, be a little more vain?  Since day one, Jesus has been working away inside of me to help me care less about the outside of me.  I really do wish the vanity monster was just some Wild Thing, some figment of my imagination.  But it’s not.

It’s this sneaky beast that whispers often, ‘Think about your outward appearance more.  Look at yourself more often.  Worry about your looks, and not so much about looking at others.’

Recent days and a reading of 1 Peter have reminded me that I have to make a conscious choice to regularly starve the vanity monster that the rest of the world is dying to feed.  

This isn’t about a list of rules or ‘do not’s’ but rather a list of little helps that might help us care less about the way we look.   Of course, only Jesus can really do this.  But, He uses means.  And so here are just five (really six) ways to get started at starving the vanity beast.

1.Mirror, mirror on the wall. One fast way to help yourself forget about what your self looks like is to stop looking so much at yourself. Pick a day to fast from the mirror. Maybe look once while you brush your teeth and call it quits for the rest of the day-no compact, no rear view, no quick sneak in the dark windows of the building as you walk by.  Just can’t stand not to look?  Keep a dry erase marker near all the mirrors in your house and mark the mirror each time you look.  See if you can decrease the number as the days pass and you pass by all those mirrors.

2. In a Row. Wear it twice or three times, even four? I’ve been trying this more and more recently, more as a laundry protest.  But still, it works as a protest against vanity too. On the off chance that my clothes aren’t covered in spit up or peanut butter, I try to wear the same thing the next day, changing my undies, of course.  I’m not a yoga pants and ponytail type of girl.  Don’t get me wrong. I still get dressed in normal clothing-jeans and knit tops, typically.  But, this repetition helps me think less about what I’m wearing.

3.Drop one ritual. Pick one thing that you do to make yourself look a little prettier than the way the natural course of nature would have you look and give it up. Just stop doing it. For me, this year, it’s been eyeliner. I’ve worn eyeliner since high school days when I was dying to be on the cover of Seventeen. There have been different seasons, but mostly, I rarely left home without it. During ‘No Spend Month,’ I ran out and decided to just give it up. I realized the eyeliner really changed the way my eyes actually looked. Since letting it go, I’m more comfortable with people seeing me just as I naturally am.

I’m sure all you ‘au natural’ beauties out there are going, ‘Oh wow, look at her, she gave up eyeliner.  Big whoop.’ I know, I am a lightweight.  But, perhaps there’s even one thing you do (I’m really hoping there is) to make you look the way you do-some expensive mask? plucking your eyebrows? Come on, there’s got to be something.

4.The Shirt Off Your Back. So, I’ve never actually done this, but I really want the guts to. I remember reading how Rich Mullins did. And, back in my twenties, I had a friend who did this too. When someone tells you they like your shirt or your skirt or your dress or your whatever, and the Spirit so moves you, give it to them, after you’ve found something else to put on, of course.  Not yet up for giving the shirt off your back?  Just give something, anything, that’s dear to you away.  A piece of jewelry, a favorite accessory, anything.  When we release some of the items we love most dearly, God always comes in and fills the gaps more perfectly.

5.In Half. The time it takes you to get ready? See if you can cut it in half. I did this, though not intentionally. Most days, these days, I’m doing good to put on deodorant.  Seriously, during this stage of life, I get about 5 minutes for a shower in the evenings and about 5, maybe 10 minutes to dress in the mornings.

The other week I had this vague recollection of getting dressed when Jason and I were first married-how it actually used to be an ordeal, a 30 minute or so ordeal. And I thought, ‘What in the world did I do to myself for 30 minutes?’

Looking back, I have to say that I didn’t look 30 minutes more incredible than I do these days. I still honestly, just looked like me. Me, with the pointy chin and the green eyes and barely there eyelashes and the sometimes splotchy skin and the little moles around the bridge of my nose.

This is me. God made me this way. Even the scars and the pock marks are His doing. And I’d like to think more about what He’s doing than what I can do to myself and my appearance. I’d like to just be happy that He made me, that He has given me a chance to know Him and enjoy Him and be near Him through Jesus.  I’d really just like to forget about myself and what my outsides look like.

I really just want to look like Him.  Deep down, I think everyone who’s truly His must too.  

I’d like to just not be vain anymore. But this is no overnight ordeal. The beasts under the bed won’t go away without a fight.  

Working out our salvation takes real work. So, I’m praying for grace to starve the vanity monster right out of this imperfect skin. And I’m praying for help to feed the beautiful Christ inside, the one true Strong Man, and let Him change all the vain thoughts to sane moments.  

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 1 Peter 3:3-4

Oh, and one last thought. This really should be #6, but ’6 ways’ is just not as catchy. Toss it. Toss the magazines. Turn off the commercial. Seriously, have you ever seen any ad that told you that you were just fine and dandy just the way you were? That there was nothing that you should add on or take off before you were just fine? I don’t think so. One of the best ways to starve the vanity monster is to starve the media one too. But don’t go hungry…read His beautiful words, sing His songs, be with His real and beautiful people.

And I have to tell you, when you are just His, you are just perfect.

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