A couple years ago I was waiting in the parking lot for my husband to get out of the store. I was sitting there getting bored when a young woman, who was in the car right in front of me, caught my attention. She was all fixed up and like me, was waiting for someone (I am guessing her date) to get back to the car. But as she was waiting she kept looking in the side car mirrors and fluffing her hair, and making sure her makeup was perfect. She smiled and checked her teeth to make sure there was nothing in them. Then she took out her phone and started posing, making faces and took pictures of herself. I tried not to let her see me laughing. When she took her pictures, she would look at the camera phone and I could see her smile out of approval. When my husband returned I told him the story and we got a good laugh at the poor girl’s expense. Over the years I have thought of that incident in the parking lot several times and have said to myself “I’m so glad I am not vain like that!”
But what exactly does it mean to be vain? Is it just being conceited with ones’ outward appearance? The definition for “vain” is, “excessively proud of or concerned about one’s own appearance, qualities, achievements, etc.” Is it wrong to be conceited or haughty about how we look or what we own? 2 Timothy 3:2-4 is talking about evil men and their sins. Lovers of self, boasters and proud people are mentioned. Not many people enjoy being around others who think too highly of themselves. Women who are conceited with their outward appearance seem to have forgotten that God gave them their features. God desires that we be humble and not stuck up (Proverbs 11:2). The last part of Romans 11:20 says, “Do not be haughty, but fear.” So, yes! It is wrong to be full of oneself, to be prideful and boastful about your physical features and wealth. But that is not all that vanity is.
How often on a Sunday morning have you changed into 5 different outfits before finding the one that you think makes you look best? How many times have you stood in front of the mirror and complained about certain facial features, stretch marks, pale skin and just plain not feeling pretty enough? Have you ever felt embarrassed not being able to buy as nice of clothes as the other women of the congregation? Do you ever compare the clothes or toys you are able to buy for your children to what other families are able to afford? I know I am guilty of this at certain times. We need to remember that being vain is not only being conceited, but being too concerned about your looks, achievement and what you do or do not have. Wanting you and your family to look nice and wanting to be good at what you do is not bad! It turns bad when you start getting discontent with yourself or your surroundings (Philippians 4:11). Discontentment can lead to envy or jealousy of others, which the Lord hates (Proverbs 14:30). We must remember that we are made in the image of our Lord (Genesis 1:27)! He created us in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13-16)! When we are unsatisfied with our physical features we are telling God he did not do a good enough job with us. As women, this is a huge problem. If we want our daughters to be happy in their own skin, then we need to stop looking in the mirror and saying “I’m so fat”! They will follow in our footsteps.
Let’s work on not being conceited and not being unsatisfied with the way God made us! We do not want to be known as vain women! We need to always keep in mind what our goal in life is as Christian women and not worry about the physical struggles that can make our life less happy than it could be. “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised (Proverbs 31:30).”
By Alicia Bookout
Alicia and her husband, Garrett live in Clovis, NM where Garrett is the pulpit minister for 16th and Pile church of Christ. They have one sweet two-year old daughter, Emma. Alicia is a stay-at-home wife and mother. They both graduated from the Bear Valley Institute of Denver.