What constitutes a classic?
If you instantly pictured a Dickens novel or a 1960s Camaro, well, you’re not wrong. A classic is something distinctive that doesn’t lose its appeal over the years. It’s something timeless, that continues to resonate long after its creation.
So in six millennia of human existence, what is classic womanhood? The world hasn’t really ever decided what to do with women. Throughout the ages and across cultures, women have been worshiped, abused, treated as property or bargaining chips, reverenced as the leaders of society. What constitutes a classic woman in a world that can’t make up its mind about us? More importantly, what constitutes timeless beauty to God? How can I, in the 21st century, live every day with the same kind of grace and beauty that characterized “holy women of old time”? (I Peter 3:5) How do I even recognize a woman who is truly, classically beautiful in God’s eyes?
- Walks with God.
I know, I know. I sound like a broken record. But it doesn’t matter what other accomplishments, relationships, or great aspects of personality and self-reliance the Lord allows you to have. You will lose it all, unless you have this foundation of a daily walk with God. “Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.” (Psalm 143:8)
- Knows her identity.
In a Sunday school class of 2nd-grade bus girls, I had exactly one rule: Act like a princess. Did you know you don’t need to tell a 7-year-old how a princess behaves? Immediately, backs straightened, ankles crossed, hair was smoothed, hands folded into laps, smiles appeared on every face. We had very few discipline problems that a simple reminder could not fix. Now, if I’m a child of God, and God is the King of kings, what does that make me? A child of the King – a princess. “Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house; So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him.” (Psalm 45:10-11) Perceiving myself as a daughter of the King isn’t self-exalting; rather, it forces me to see myself as my Father does. Is He pleased? Is He disappointed? Does He approve of this action? Is that what He wants me to do with my life?
- Dresses with purpose.
Assuming my appearance is already Biblically modest, the next step is dress to represent Christ. “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 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.” (I Peter 3:3-4) Meekness is not being a pushover, it’s “strength under control”. While we all end up “putting on of apparel” and enjoying pretty things, an expensive or high-maintenance look doesn’t show forth much in the way of purposeful self-control. Shirts emblazoned with brand names and TV shows are less about a quiet spirit and more about free advertising for the world. I can even try to repackage ratty clothes and greasy hair as “unpretentious” and “humble” but it’s just a thin disguise for “I didn’t care enough about how I represent my Father to bother with dressing up at all.”
- Develops productive skills.
The Proverbs 31 woman is a classic example: she can make things with her hands, she’s a bargain-hunter, she can generate her own income, she masterfully manages her home, she invests deeply and wisely into the people around her. Did she have some 930 B.C. version of Candy Crush, or study anthropology on the side? was she a reader or a musician? Just how successful was her linen-selling hustle? We’ll never know. Because in the long run, those weren’t the things she allowed to define her life; her worth was measured in how well she could maximize what God gave her, whether they be material things or people. Work to be a better steward of His resources. That sort of diligence tends to permeate how you think and starts to bear fruit in other areas of your life.
- Develops her mind.
Too many godly women run on cognitive fumes. They manage all right until a situation arises where they desperately need extra wisdom – a crisis, someone needing counsel, a child asking for a definitive answer, a major financial decision, a medical nightmare. Even a college education doesn’t prepare you for all of it. So educate yourself on matters of lifelong importance to you and your sphere of influence. Why do you vote the way you do? What does the Bible say about modesty, and where does it say so? What sort of lifestyle habits are best for your long-term health? “A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing.” (Proverbs 9:13) It’s a lot of noise with no real purpose or knowledge to justify it.
- Prioritizes others.
The godly woman takes time to anticipate and to meet the needs of others, particularly her family. Additionally, she’s quick to see the value and potential in others despite their faults – including those closest to her. Would the Virtuous Woman’s husband have been known in the gates (the local “meeting of minds”) if he hadn’t had a wife who convinced him he was worth knowing? How would Sarah be remembered in the Bible, if she’d called Abraham out on his numerous shortcomings instead of quietly supporting him anyway (I Peter 3:6)? How many people are in heaven today because of the testimony and genuine love of Dorcas?
In any age, regardless of how culture teaches me to perceive womanhood, I choose to be and befriend the woman who, in the Lord’s sight, will never go out of style. God’s Word doesn’t change. His ideals of beauty and pleasing womanhood are constant, timeless, classic.
Becoming a classic in God’s eyes doesn’t always come easily or naturally to the modern woman. It’s going to take me a lifetime. But is it a challenge worth taking? Ladies, let’s be the “woman among a thousand” here. And brethren still reading, “pray for us” – we’re going to need it, and you’re going to need us.
Talk to me: Should this be a two-part series? Because there’s plenty more. Let me know down in the comments.