Read an Excerpt
Secret KeeperThe Delicate Power of Modesty
By Dannah Gresh
Moody PressCopyright © 2002 Dannah Gresh
All right reserved.
Chapter One[The Power]
I sat basking in the warmth of the Florida sunshine when she came my way. Her hot pink leans were filled with model-thin legs and topped off by a matching tight cotton T-shirt. Her belt and shoes were white leather, pulling everything together in a baby-doll look that pretended to say "innocent" but whispered "sexy."
"Can we talk?" she asked, as a gentle breeze blew her long chestnut mane into her face. She tossed it behind her revealing deep green eyes,
"Sure, have a seat." I invited.
"I've got a problem." she admitted restlessly. "I, uh ... well ... Ya know when you were talking about purity? Well, like. God was telling me something about myself then."
She paused as tears welled up in her eyes, and then she tried once again to verbalize what was causing her pain.
"OK," she said and gave a deep sigh. "I was very overweight until recently. Like, in the last year. I've lost over fifty pounds. And, before that I didn't really have this problem. I mean, I didn't feel this way. But ..."
She paused again.
"Well, now, I know that if I wear the right thing, they'll look. I can feel them watching me and ... well ..." She hesitated.
"You can feel them watching and what?" I prodded matter-of-factly,
"I like it," she blurted out as another tear began making its way to the rim of her eyelid.
"Then why are you crying?" I asked.
"Because I also hate it," she stated as a free fall of tears streamed down her cheeks. "I hate it because of the way it makes me feel, but I love it because ... I can't explain it. It's like, well ..."
I waited for her to find her feelings. I wasn't prepared for her wise discernment.
"It's like I've found this power," she stated confidently and sadly.
The power is your allure. Allure? Yes, allure. It's a strange, nondescript word. And yet, it does give language to the mystifying, undefinable power of the female attraction. A power which both men and women are drawn to, though men with greater magnetism. I invite you to explore this power with me. More importantly, we'll explore its source of sustenance. For what good is it to know a power exists if you don't know where to get it? To mention this source is to use a word that's been given a bum rap, but stick with me here.
[The source of the power Is modesty.]
Modesty? A source of great power?
Yes. Modesty is the source of this delicate yet formidable power, making it a power in and of itself. It's delicate because it can be so innocently given away without your even knowing it. It's formidable-or difficult to deal with 'or control-because once you've mastered it, no man will be given access to the full secrets behind your allure until you so desire.
Do you know Tim Allen, the actor who plays the Tool Time guy on the hit TV sitcom Home Improvement? He once wrote that he'd never forget the first time he really noticed a woman's body. "In a way the picture was both frightening and reassuring," he wrote. "I realized for the first time that, dumb as it sounds, all women are naked under their clothes ... they have this power and I didn't even know it."
I'm convinced that the practice of modesty in your life is an intriguing and untapped power source. So I've tackled the challenge of writing this little book. If you stick with me for these few short chapters, you'll be in the driver's seat of this power. I can't say what kind of decisions you'll make with the knowledge, for I won't try to answer all the questions, and I promise not to write a list of do's and don'ts for you.
Modesty is much too complex to regulate with a big list of rules. I just want to give you all of the facts in their rawest form so that you can at least make an informed decision about how you'll use this power.
But first, be honest with me. Are you a bit reluctant about reading this? If we're going to lay the facts on the table, we should start with our own feelings.
I'll confess I was not excited to write about modesty. I had a few stubborn misconceptions, and I didn't want my wardrobe rocked. I had to admit that the presence of strong feelings required me to move forward in exploring the topic. With God's help, I decided that this would be the next mountain I would climb. (I felt like I was standing at the bottom of Mount Everest.)
Within just a few weeks of digging into the subject, I found myself frustrated with random thoughts.
"If so many parents of today are troubled by belly rings and tongue rings, how do they explain that Isaac's gift to Rebekah was a nose ring and that during Bible times a pierced nose was a simon of royalty?"
"IT SEEMS TO ME THAT A LOT OF CHRISTIANS AREN'T JUST DISSING THE IMMODEST FASHIONS, BUT FASHION IN GENERAL. SO WHY DOES THE BIBLE ACTUALLY SEEM TO ENCOURAGE US TO DRESS WELL? SCRIPTURE HAS MANY VERSES ENCOURAGING US TO PRESENT OURSELVES BEAUTIFULLY,"
IF MODESTY IS SUCH A BIG DEAL, WHY DOESNT THE BIBLE TALK ABOUT IT MORE? IT S ONLY DIRECTLY REFERENCED FOUR TIMES.
And my big problem was this: "If immodesty is such a problem, why aren't any of the great Christian leaders of today tackling it with more good ideas and information?"
I was starting from scratch. I felt a little confused and a lot like just throwing in the towel and saying, "I'll wear what I want!" I bet you've got a few stubborn thoughts rolling around in your head too. Here are some I've heard from the teen girls I hang with:
"Why can't I wear what everyone else is wearing?"
"Aren't you just hung up on your old sense of fashion? Things change!"
"Why are my parents so hung up on this thing? They just don't get it!"
"Isn't it really the guy's problem? To me it's just fashion!"
Those are good questions. Go ahead and ask the tough questions. I can't promise I'll answer them all, but there is good news. As I've begun this long climb upward, I've changed my mind about how I feel about modesty. I no longer envision some crabby old lady buttoned up to her chin in lace pointing her finger at me. Instead, I see a lovely woman with her long flowing hair tied into a neat bun and her head tilted slightly down. She's holding a robe in front of her, and her hands calmly and perhaps even subconsciously cover her most private parts. Oh, did I mention she is naked? Yes, this beautifully carved 1846 statue entitled The Greek Slave by Hiram Powers is now one of the mysterious images of modesty in my mind. Hard to believe? Hey, even the most respected of Protestant ministers in the 1840s favored this statue.
A naked statue? Modest?
My, we do have a lot of ground to cover in this tiny little book, don't we? I hope you'll stick with me. If you don't discover the beauty of this power and the power of this beauty, at least you might discover the hidden modesty in a naked statue.
If you're reading this book, it's probably because you have the power too. If you're a young woman, you were born with the seed of this power planted firmly within you. Through the years God has tenderly watched that seed grow. Some call it sexuality, but even men possess that. This power is unique to us girls. Some might call it beauty, but that would limit it to the visual. This power is multidimensional.
get this! Modesty is a delicate yet formidable power that God has given to you!
Chapter Two[The Secret]
As long as you seem to be "hooking up" on a regular basis, no one has a thing to say to you, but if you're alone people become very concerned to give you lots of advice. I listened carefully to all of it I was alone, but had to conclude-without wanting to seem ungrateful-that the advice young women were getting was just appalling. I was stunned by the way my friends reassured me. You will have many men in your life, they all predicted. Your body's not so bad, your face not so ugly. You'll see. you'll see. You'll do very well on the market. Trust us. Just "maybe put on a shorter skirt or something, stop "hiding" yourself. stop "taking things so seriously." And "you'll see how the men will ..."
I tuned out at this point my mind whirring over this. You will have many men business. Was that a compliment, I wondered, or a life sentence? It's a life sentence if you're like me, one who hopes for-dare one even say it-not many men but just one. You will have many men. Well thanks for the generous offer, but am I allowed to decline?
I cringe when someone teases my children, Robby and Lexi, about their "girlfriends" or "boyfriends." For crying out loud, they're in elementary school!
It only gets worse when you hit high school, doesn't it? And God forbid you should graduate from college without a boyfriend! At least that's how the pressure often makes it feel.
Is that really what God intended? Was it His plan to have us "try" this guy and then that one like you might a new cosmetic line that advertises, "Try us for 30 days free!" Is it possible that God had something else in mind?
Let's get to the heart of being a woman. God originally created woman to complete ... fulfill ... finish man. Check it out. In Genesis 2, God surveys His fine creation and finds everything just right. He uses the word good. Everything gets this label ... with one exception. He says, "It is not good for man to be alone."
Hold it one minute there. Did you catch that? Alone? The God of the universe was walking and talking with Adam. How could Adam have been alone? God could've easily filled that void in Adam. He didn't. Instead, He crafted a masterpiece ... woman! You are one of those masterpieces. Bill Perkins is an author, but more importantly, he's a man. He writes, "The Master Artist who sculpted the universe spared nothing in the creation of this masterpiece. I've asked men on numerous occasions what they think is the most beautiful sight on earth ... they'll always say, `A gorgeous woman.'"
You have been given all of the power of a masterpiece that is worthy of every glance you receive. And ever since Eve, guys have been glancing. Oh, have they been glancing!
Advertising researchers have actually attached little sensors to readers' eyeballs to follow the visual path and figure out what makes someone spend time reading an ad, increasing an advertiser's chance of sales. Crazy, huh? They've discovered lots of little tricks that will increase the viewing time by 1% ... 2% ... maybe 3%. But if you really want to stop the reader, use a woman. I've heard different numbers, but it seems a photo of a woman will increase the length of time someone spends with an ad by 14 to 30%. That's way more than anything else. It didn't matter much whether it was a woman or a man doing the looking. Both were drawn to the beauty of the female image. (There's that allure!) Advertisers just don't get the same response when they use the image of a man, no matter how fantastic looking he might be. It's the masterpiece called "woman" that calls our eyes to praise. The masterpiece is applauded with many glances. Just how powerful is the draw? Let's get a guy's perspective on this. Author Henry Rogers writes about how incredibly beautiful women are. He says that if it is the bottom of the ninth in the seventh game of the World Series ...
(... OK, a big moment [or guys ... ) and the home team is down by three runs and has two outs with the bases loaded ...
(... the stakes are getting higher ...) and the home-run king is at the plate ...
(... now this is a major life moment for guys ...) and suddenly a beautiful woman pulls off her top. ... the guys would forget the game!
(Now THAT'S power!)
He writes, "Women are beautiful to us because God made them that way. Their beauty and our desire are God-given. The nakedness of a woman has a powerful impact on us."
Our bodies create quite a stir in guys. Let's be specific here. Your body can really drive a guy crazy. And that's what God intended. Check out Proverbs 5:18-19 where it tells a man to "rejoice in the wife of your youth.... May you ever be captivated by her love." That word captivated would be better translated "intoxicated" since that's what the Hebrew writer was trying to suggest. Imagine this ... your husband on your wedding night filled with a holy drunken stupor at your presence. That's what God wants for you one day if His plan for you includes marriage.
But there's a catch. Notice the earlier part of the passage where it says, "the wife" ... in other words, one woman. Again and again, the Bible reconfirms that this intoxication is only to be shared with one guy ... and after you're married.
Until then, it's under wraps ... a secret to be shared with your husband. Sure you could "have many men," but God says "just one." Until then, the fullest secrets of the incredible masterpiece of your body are to be your unique secret.
As you might have noticed, some girls today aren't the best secret keepers. They flaunt their bodies in hip huggers complemented by belly rings, miniskirts matched to high heels, tight shirts to go with tighter pants and ... well, I could go on, but you've probably had some of that stuffed down your throat already.
Am I saying we have to hide all of your beauty and cover ourselves head to toe? No, I'm not saying that. If your experience is like mine, you've had some well-intentioned Christians tell you to dress pretty unattractively. (At least, that's what I perceived they were telling me.) The Bible doesn't tell us to walk around with a sack on our head and with the God-given curves of our body flattened by a corset before they're covered in a black sack.
Let's get one thing clear; fashion is OK. And, though God implores us to be more concerned with our inner beauty than our external beauty, He provides a consistent theme in the Bible for appreciating external beauty. (Why do you think He made us "masterpieces" so devastatingly beautiful?) Sarah was so beautiful that ol' Abraham was afraid other men might kill him so they could have his wife. Rebekah was "very beautiful" and a "virgin Abigail was "intelligent and beautiful." Esther is perhaps the Bible character most acclaimed for her beauty. There are more. The fact that their beauty is even mentioned in a document that doesn't waste words is significant. These were precious words. It must have been important to note the beauty of these women.
Did these beauties of the Bible appear plain and without use of the fashion of the day? Not necessarily. Several times the Bible notes that beautiful women used cosmetics to make themselves more beautiful.
Excerpted from Secret Keeper by Dannah Gresh Copyright © 2002 by Dannah Gresh
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.