By Sherye S. Green
Playing Dress Up No More
I well remember how much fun it was as a little girl to wear my mother’s high-heeled pumps and clomp around the house, laughing all the while at the funny sounds the shoes made. Both of my grandmothers kept a dress-up collection of their own for me—old purses, costume jewelry, and shoes now past their prime—which afforded me countless hours of fun and make-believe. My own daughter, now a mother herself, did the same as a little girl, playing the time-honored game of dressing up. How fun to pretend to be someone other than yourself!
One of the ways I learned how to behave as an adult female was to model good behavior fleshed out by fine examples all around me. In the same way, I learned how being a woman of God by emulating godly behavior exhibited in the lives of Christian women I respected and admired. Good behavior, however, can only take one so far.
What I have discovered in growing up into an adult female, and more importantly, into one who calls herself by the name of Christ, is that my outer appearance is governed by my inner countenance. If the woman inside of me is not grounded on the Word of God and if that woman is not being fashioned into the reflection of my Lord, it won’t matter how put together my outward appearance seems to be. It’s a façade, at best—a false front and nothing more.
I know all too well the condition of my own heart. I’m still working to grow up into the woman God is creating me to be. Despite my best efforts, I continue to face within myself the tendency to act more like a spoiled toddler than a mature woman on any given day. This is still very much a part of my nature, regardless of my ever-increasing chronological age.
As all action originates in the mind, that’s where I know I must begin to make a wardrobe change of sorts. God’s Word tells me I am to be mature in my thinking and behavior. Synonyms for mature also used in the Word include perfect and complete. Paul reminds me of the mature mindset that is mine in Christ, “When I was a little child I talked and felt and thought like a little child. Now that I am a [grown up] my childish speech and feeling and thought have no further significance for me” (1 Corinthians 11:13, Phillips). The writer of Hebrews encourages me to “press on to maturity” (Hebrews 6:1, NASB). Jesus’ brother, James, tells me that patience developed through trials will equip me so that I “… will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete” (James 1:4, TLB).
Paul encourages us even today in his epistle to the church at Ephesus to “… live a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called [that is, to live a life that exhibits godly character, moral courage, personal integrity, and mature behavior—a life that expresses gratitude to God for your salvation]” (Ephesians 4:1, AMP). He goes on to explain what is to be the goal of Christian maturity, “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Ephesians 4:14, ESV).
What are ways in which I can put into practice Christian maturity? I will put into practice the lessons learned from my mistakes, rather than repeating the same unproductive behaviors over and over. I will practice self-discipline more often in every area of my life—conversation, thought, eating, use of free time, tackling difficult situations—and will appropriate the strength of God to do so on days when my own strength fails. I will choose to act my age and not my shoe size, especially in frustrating and confusing situations. I will allow the Lord to make me softer and sweeter the older I get, not harder and more critical. I will choose to stand on the truth of God’s Word and His track record of faithfulness (100%) over the course of the forty-five years I’ve walked with Him. I will choose to believe God still has work for me to do, even in this middle season of life.
I’ll always be God’s little girl, but He loves me too much to allow me to stay in that childlike state. As His daughter, God has provided for me an entire wardrobe of clothes—compassion, forbearance, forgiveness, gentleness, humility, kindness, love, and patience. He’s even provided accessories to accompany these beautiful dresses—the beautiful belt of truth, fine shoes of the gospel of peace, the ribbon-trimmed hat of salvation. Garments which fit me perfectly and which make me more like Him. Outfits that signify my maturity in Christ. Apparel that marks me as a daughter of the King.
If, like me, you’ve been playing dress up far too long, perhaps while pretending to be someone you’re not, come to the Master’s closet. Dressed in His finery, you’ll be authentic and always in style. God’s wardrobe is guaranteed to please.
Sherye S. Green is a Jacksonian, a teacher at Madison-Ridgeland Academy, and a wife, mother, and grandmother. Sherye and her husband, Mark, are members of First Baptist Church Jackson. She is also the author of Abandon Not My Soul.