The story I’m going to share is a powerful personal journey. It’s one that I am amazed to look back on and see all that God was doing through the last several years to bring to fruition. The story of how, in the midst of a difficult season of my life, God used it as an opportunity to reveal to me a powerful truth. I eventually came to be able to share this truth publicly and see the impact it has had on other women like me. It all came about because of the phrase “A Princess Worth Dying For” and the truth associated with it. My hopes is that the truth will be even more powerfully proclaimed as I share the story behind what became my first spoken word poem.
What This Phrase Means
This phrase is applicable to every women who has ever lived and ever will live. Not only is it applicable, it’s also true of each and every women. Unfortunately, there are too many women that don’t know it’s true. Or if they have been told in some way or another, they have totally forgotten or disregarded it, and instead chosen to find their value in men or man-made things. It really and truly does break my heart to think that so many of us have been deceived in this area. I think it’s one of Satan’s strongest footholds in our society today. I know it was a foothold in my own life, until I learned what this phrase really means. Two main points stand out about its deeper meaning.
First, every woman is a princess. Now, before some of you roll your eyes at this analogy, I want to take it in a little bit of a different direction than you have probably heard it used. I use the term "princess" not as indication of her status or even the way she should be treated, but as a gauge of her value. In our world today, there are few women that are considered more valuable and precious that queens, princesses, first ladies, and the wives or daughters of those in the highest authority positions. Especially with today’s modern security measures, they are guarded like they are of the greatest value. Their security guards would give up their lives in the defense of these women, because of how valuable their lives and their work are to the country over which they preside. That’s the kind of value all women have in God’s eyes. Every women is that valued and precious in His sight. They are meant to be cherished and protected. Although I do think the princess analogy can be misused, it is one of the best ways I can find to explain this truth when presented in this way.
Second, every women is worth dying for. Every woman wants to know that someone loves her enough to lay down his life for her. The problem is that most women think they are unworthy of that kind of sacrificial love, which is heart-breaking to me. They think the guys that are that genuine would never be interested in them. But in reality, this quality in a guy isn’t just meant to be like Prince Charming of our dreams, but it is really meant to be the standard for what men should strive for. In other words, a guy that willing to lay down his life for a women should be an expectation or requirement, not an elusive dream that can’t be achieved. Especially once a man and a woman are married, this sacrificial love should be the standard of the relationship.
The truth is that we have had a man that laid down His life for each and every one of us. His name is Jesus Christ. The place where we should find our value is at the foot of the cross, because that is where Jesus declared that in His eyes, you were worth dying for. Your value is something no one on this earth has the right to define, because it was already determined on the cross. Regardless of anything you have done or what has been done to you, anyone can find this value in the sacrifice of Jesus. All you have to do is accept it for yourself. Once I started to understand this phrase in this way, things were never the same.
Where It Started
By the fact you are reading this blog post, you can probably assume that I like to write. Although it is true that I had only been blogging a little less than a year at the time I'm writing this, I have been writing in other ways for so much longer. But one of my greatest writing projects I’ve ever completed has, for the most part, never seen the light of day, and that’s because it’s a Lord of the Rings Fanfiction. I have essentially completed a sequel to LOTR that took me about 12 years to write. Really the only ones that know my story very well are those that have read my story on Fanfiction.net or on YouTube. There are several other friends in my life that know about my book, but haven’t necessarily read it. Some of these friends have asked me why I have been so determined to finish this book that I knew I'd never be able to publish. I think that what I'm about to tell you will explain the answer to this question.
One of the reasons I kept writing is because it was such a fun and creative way to write about the lessons I was learning in my own life while I was writing. I started to write this book around the same time that I made the decision to commit my life to Christ and be baptized. Because of this, the book became a reflection of my spiritual journey, especially in the life of my heroine. When I came to a time in my life when I was struggling with my self-esteem during college, I wrote this conflict into her life as well. Her struggle was so deep that when her best friend (King Aragorn’s son Eldarion) confesses his love for her and says he would die for her, she initially can’t even comprehend the feelings as true. She had gotten to the point where all she could see was the opinions others had of her.
One day in fall 2012 (probably September or October), as I was working on my book, I was specifically focused on this scene and struggling with finding the right words for Eldarion to break through her mental barrier and prove he loved her. Whatever I had previously written simply wasn’t working. But suddenly, out of nowhere it seemed, this line popped into my head:
“No matter what anyone has ever said, you are my princess…a princess worth dying for.”
I typed it out and stared at it on my laptop screen for a couple of minutes. I realized what a powerful truth it was, both within the context of this fictional story, and in my own life as it related to the powerful truth about Jesus’ love for me. This single line was what in the end sold this scene to me and to the few people that have read my book. And funny thing was, as much as I wanted to develop other parts of my story, I kept coming back to that scene again and again just to reread that passage. The lines surrounded this one expanded over time, but this line was the essence of what drove the scene. Sometimes, just reading it on the page makes me cry.
[If anyone is by any chance interested in reading my fanfiction online, click here. The scene I described here is in chapter 16]
Interesting thing was that for some reason, this line and the powerful truth behind it just wouldn’t go away. I was usually able to put my story away and not be thinking about it all the time, but that scene just wouldn’t go away in my mind. The connections to my understanding of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross continued to get stronger over time. I eventually realized that this was a truth I wanted to maybe share with other women someday, but I wondered how I could, since the situation with sharing my fanfiction was complicated. Then, I figured out a small way to do it.
Fast forwarding to the next semester (Spring 2013), I was in a class affectionately called “chick preaching” (Biblical Communications for Women) and had to write a topical sermon. I decided to tackle the topic of modesty and as I mentioned in last week's blog post, this is a topic that is not only close of my heart, but also very directly connected to a woman’s understanding of her value. If you really believe that Jesus died for you, you are going to dress that you believe you are redeemed by the blood of Christ. As I wrote this into my sermon, my special phrase “a princess worth dying for” fell onto my heart again, and I realized that this was the perfect opportunity to share it. When the girls I shared the sermon with told me how much they appreciated what I had to say, I sensed that this was just the beginning of this powerful message.
When I Wrote the Poem
Some of you that read my post about meeting Jon Jorgenson have already heard this part of the story, but I'm going to share part of it again to illustrate the whole journey. As I mentioned in that post, although God was at work in my life during this time, I was in such a strange place mentally, emotionally, and spiritual during this whole time I was just describing. Although I knew this special phrase, I was still having a hard time accepting it. Just after I shared this sermon, a few things happened that made my singleness stand out, and I started to struggle with understanding why my relationship status has never changed. For several months, this struggle was always in the back of my mind, even as I entered my last on-campus semester of college. It was to the point that I had almost forgotten about my special phrase. Then in October 2013, someone on my dorm floor shared this video, which made me stop dead in my tracks.
The truths declared in this video are so powerful. For me, it was a reminder of not only how valued I am in God’s eyes, but also that I am capable of doing the things that I have been called to do, and that when I do, I can help bring change to our broken world. In the weeks that followed, I started making some changes in my life that needed to be made, especially in regards to my view of myself. I finally got to a point where I was healed from some hurts I had in relation to both my singleness and even my body image. It felt like I had literally been freed from a burden that had been weighting down on my heart for about two years. Even as I was on my knees praising God in tears of joy, my special phrase, “a princess worth dying for” fell upon my heart again. Suddenly, something clicked in my head to help me understand the fullness of what this phrase meant. The inspiration and most of the words of my poem flooded my mind over the course of a few days and I wrote them down on my document on my computer. It was crazy to see how fast the inspiration came, considering I’d never written a piece like that, but I also felt like God was giving me the words to say.
For that point on, this phrase really did start to become a sort of catch phrase. A little later in the semester, the girls on my floor were encouraged to make a two sided sign out of cardboard, one side having a phrase about your old life or struggles, and the other side about your new life in Christ or personal victories. It wasn’t hard for me to figure out what mine would say. The back said “Not Good Enough” and the front said “A Princess Worth Dying For.” We shared this signs with each other at our weekly dorm floor devotions. It really did feel like a moment of personal triumph when I showed the girls my sign and they applauded for me. It was a very special moment.
I thought that my poem was good, but I hesitated to widely share it at first. I decided to share it with a few of my college friends by asking them to read it and see what they thought. Even from the five or so friends I shared it with at the time, the response was so positive. I even had one friend that shared it on her blog. But beyond that semester, I kind of put the poem away for a while. I did pull it out on occasion and make a few revisions to it, but I didn’t try to share it again for quite some time.
When I Made the Video
About a year later, I was teaching a junior high girls Bible study on modesty, my poem came back to my mind. I thought about turning it into a video, but I was a little hesitant at first. Although I do enjoy video making, I didn’t have great video equipment and had no experience making that kind of video. But I couldn’t help but feel I needed to do it. I did want to share this message, especially with the girls of my Bible study. So in the end, I made to decision to go for it. I recorded this video in the same room where I did the teaching for the Bible study in my church building. In hindsight, it wasn’t the fanciest video I could have made, but for the resources I had at hand and the fact I made it by myself, it was good. I felt like I was faithful to what I was called to do with what I had.
[If you have never watched this video, please do!]
When I shared this video, the girls were so sweet about how much they liked it. Because I filmed it in the room I taught the girls in, I left the cross from the end of the video on the wall and used it as a prayer station for a prayer/reflection time I did with the girls after I showed them the video. At the end of the night, I also gave each girl a white stone with their name on one side, and on the other side it said, “A Princess Worth Dying For”
A couple of days later, I uploaded the video on YouTube and started to share it on my social media. Although it is not my most viewed video, I know that those that have viewed it have been touched. The share and comments I have gotten from people have been amazing. It is rather incredible to think how writing this poem about my personal experience has become such a powerful tool to help women see their value. It was in part from this reaction that I decided to seek out other opportunities to do more spoken word poetry on my YouTube channel. It all started with a short but simple phrase that taught me about my value in God’s eyes.
As I look back on this personal journey, I am still in awe of the powerful lesson God taught me and how I have been able to share it with others. As the time I am writing this, this video only has about 250 views, but I know it has made an impact in the lives of the few that have seen it. It’s awesome to see the impression it has left on the last few years of my own life. It has become one of the truths that I am most passionate about sharing with others. As I said earlier, this really has become a sort of catch phrase. Even as I was recently updating my bio on my social media sites, this was what ended up coming to my mind.
This really does describe me and my heart in so many ways, and I want to spend the rest of my life declaring that I worship the Living God because I am a Princess Worth Dying For. I hope that some of you have found inspiration in this story. If you have, please consider share this blog post or the video itself with someone that you think needs to hear it. If you are into the hashtag thing, use #princessworthdyingfor when you share. Let’s see how many women will believe this truth for themselves.
A Quick Update
Because this video and poem are so close to my heart, I have always wanted to reach as many people as possible with its message. For this reason, I took the opportunity to recreate this video. With the help of a friend that had the right video equipment, I was able to make the quality of video I wanted to make in the first place. I am adding this tag to this blog post the day I am releasing the new video, so I am not sure how well this new version will do. But I am hoping that no matter the outcome, I am being faithful with the little opportunities he places in front of me. And again, consider sharing the blog post or this video with the hashtag #princessworthdyingfor
It all started when I was in junior high. Since I was in a private Christian school, we often had talks about remembering school rules like the dress code. This usually didn’t bother me too much since I have always been conservative in the way I dress. But I will never forget one of these modesty discussions because of one of the comments made by my teacher. Mrs. Giles was probably my favorite teacher I have ever had, and this comment illustrates one of the reasons why. She told us in her southern Alabaman accent,
“Remember girls, as Gandalf said in The Lord of the Rings,
‘Keep it secret, keep it safe.”
Needless to say, we all laughed so hard! And almost any time I tell this story today, people still laugh. In the end, although this was definitely meant to be humorous, it also made a powerful point. When Gandalf told Frodo this, Frodo had no idea what the Ring was, the power it had, or the potential danger it posed for him to have it in his possession. For that matter, Gandalf was not entirely sure himself, but until he had the chance to find out, Frodo could not take any chances. Gandalf instructed him to keep the Ring hidden (not telling anyone he had it) and to guard it securely (making sure no one could steal it) until they knew the truth about it.
As I got older, I began to appreciate this analogy for modesty more and more. Men and women alike have also been given a power, although it isn’t from a gold ring. This is the power to attract attention to our bodies in the way that we present ourselves. The problem is most of us either are unaware of the how great this power is or we use our knowledge of this power to bring the attention to ourselves. But I also think that our misunderstanding of the biblical perspective on this topic has provided much disdain for it that needs to chance in the church. Modesty is about so much more than what we wear; it’s a lifestyle that reveals a humility of the heart and the spirit through our attitude and our actions.
After I began to understand this, I became quite passionate about this topic and have come to do much research over the last few years of my life. Although I had always been aware of needing to dress modestly, I began to desire to understand why I should, and I eventually came to realize that modesty is not just about your wardrobe; it's a lifestyle of humility that is usually reflected by your wardrobe. I want to walk you through my understanding of what biblical modesty looks like, how to live that out in our world today, and some of the stories of how I came to discover these truths for myself. Because most of the discussions associated with this topic are directed at women, I am assuming they will be my main audience for this post. But I think men should also read this to not only understand what women struggle with in this area, but also to see if any of these truths can also apply to you. I think you will all be surprised. These are the three qualities that I believe lead to a lifestyle of modesty.
Assurance In Our Value
When I see a young women dressed immodestly, my first thought is that her understanding of her value and worth as a human being is messed up, because it obviously isn’t coming from the right source. When a girl dresses that way, she is communicating that the attention she get from the way she present yourself is the where she find her worth. If she doesn’t get the attention she wants, she doesn’t feel affirmed and will often go to greater extremes to regain that affirmation. There is something wrong with her understanding of the way God sees her. She either doesn’t know how valued she is in God’s eyes, or she's been told but then forgot her value in God’s eyes, or she has chosen to disregard the value she has in God’s eyes. These paths usually result in a women seeking human approval for the worth they already have in God’s eyes. As a Christian young woman, my ultimate reason for dressing modesty is my understanding of my value, and it comes from what Jesus did for me on the cross.
Let me illustrate. Have you ever watched a movie where the guy gave up his life for the guy? Those are some of the worst tearjerkers, right? That’s because in watching those moments on screen, we can't help but desire that for ourselves. We see how pure and true that man’s love is and we can’t help but think, I wish I had a guy that loved me that much.
Well ladies, I have good news for you – you do have someone that loves you that much. His name is Jesus Christ. Not only is His love so deep that He is willing to lay down His life for you, but he actually did lay down His life for you. Have you ever let that truth sink in? Jesus died for you. Coming to understand this fully will literally change your perspective of yourself and everyone around you.
What does this have to do with modesty? Well, if you really believe that Jesus died for you, you natural response is going to be to live your life in gratitude for that sacrifice. You are going to want to obey God’s instructions for your life not because you’re obligated, but because you are genuinely grateful for His sacrifice. 1 Corinthians 6 19b-20 reminds us:
“You are not your own; you were brought with a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.”
If we remember we were brought with a price, our natural conclusion will be in honor God with what we choose to do with our bodies, and that definitely includes how we dress. We need to teach this generation of Christian young women how to dress like they believe they are redeemed by the blood of the One that loved us enough to die for their sins. I think that’s a value lesson for all of us to learn.
An Attitude of Humility and Grace
Attitude is everything when it comes to modesty. In addition to communicating that she has a misunderstanding of her value, a young women dressed immodestly is also communicating that she has a bad attitude that ultimately represents that her heart is in the wrong place. Whether it be selfishness or anger or something else, they is something wrong with the condition of her heart. You can absolutely see that based on what clothes she is wearing. Most of us don’t think of that, but it’s true. Your clothing (or lack thereof) reflects the condition of your heart. What makes this interesting is that there can actually be occasions when a woman may be appropriately dressed, but is being immodest in her attitude by arrogant or pride, like when she dresses in such a way to outshine everyone else on purpose. Either way, the way you present yourself on the outside will represent where your heart is on the inside.
I feel like most of the direct references to the concept of modesty in the Bible are difficult for us to understand, because there were speaking to a different time and place. But I found this video of David Platt (author of the book Radical) breaking down these cultural references in the best way I’ve ever heard 1 Timothy 2:9-10 explained. This video is totally worth taking the time to watch.
When we are properly living out a lifestyle of modesty, we are reflecting an attitude of humility that worships God with our life and demonstrates God’s grace through good works. We will be living our lives as an act of worship and not have the desire to draw unnecessary attention to ourselves. I love what Platt said at the end of the video when he said,
“Let us raise us women across this church that get us every day, including Sunday, thinking humbly, ‘How can I dress today and what can I do today that will draw the most attention to the glory of my God?’ That’s not easy in today’s culture. That’s totally against the grain.”
When we do the opposite, choosing to draw attention to ourselves instead, we are taking attention away from God. One of my favorite authors on the topic of modesty, Dannah Gresh, put it this way in an interview.
“Any time we dressed immodestly...we’re bringing glory to ourselves. I think that’s the greatest sin of immodesty, is that we’re saying ‘Look at me’ instead of saying ‘Look at God.’”
David Platt also said in that video,
“Remember the One you are competing with for attention.”
Now I don’t think this means that we need to dress frumpy, dumpy, and out of fashion, but that does mean that our attempts to present ourselves well should never compromise your witness or distract anyone from seeing the God you profess to worship, as it is reflected in your attitude and your actions. If anything in your wardrobe hinders this, then you probably need to think twice before you wear it.
This is a slideshow from when I taught a Jr. High girls Bible study at my church last fall on this topic. We used Dannah Gresh's book, The Secret Keeper: The Delicate Power of Modesty. I learned so much about modesty as I did my research for these lessons, as well as teaching the girls in general. Aside from the fun pictures of our time together, there are some references to videos I used with the lessons as well as a song in the background that reflect what I believe the concept of modesty to be all about. It’s called Don’t Look At Me by Stacie Orrico. I think the lyrics speak for themselves.
Awareness of Our Secret
In addition to having assurance in our value and an attitude of humility, we must also develop an awareness of the logistical reasons for dressing modestly. This is the part of the conversation where most of you would expect me to pull out the “causing our brothers to stumble” argument, which personally drives me nuts. Although we should not desire to cause anyone to stumble, I think that is false motivation. Returning to the Frodo-Gandalf story, Frodo had absolutely no idea how powerful the Ring was or why he needed to keep it secretly secure until Gandalf returned. When Gandalf educated Frodo on all he learned about the Ring, Frodo became aware of the threat the Ring posed on the Shire and knew what he needed to do to keep that power out of the wrong hands. But it wasn’t until Gandalf told him that he was aware of the power that was in his possession.
The same is true of our physical beauty and our bodies. Most of us are really rather unaware of how powerful we are in regards to our sexuality, or at least how special that power is. The truth is that God designed human bodies to be attractive, specifically to the opposite gender. Dannah Gresh terms this ability as the power of allure. It's pretty incredible to think that God designed our bodies that way. There’s actually a verse in Proverbs that illustrates that a woman has the ability to intoxicate a man by her sexuality. That’s pretty strong language! Although a lot of people don’t necessarily equate immodesty with sexual immorality, they are very much connected to each other. As a Christian woman, my goal should be to dress myself in such a way as to save the deepest secret of my beauty for just one man. Anything outside of that will separate me from God and keep me from His better plan for my life.
Unfortunately, it is also true that there are many that know the power their bodies have and choose to use that to their advantage to get attention and have control in their situation. But as I said earlier, if you really believe that Jesus died for you, your natural response is going to be to desire to obey God’s guidelines for the way we dress out of gratitude. Yielding our wardrobes to Him will come naturally if we choose to think of it in this way. If that’s not the case, then your heart is not in the right place about it.
The way that I believe we should view this power is as an incredible gift from God. If we really believe that we are valued in God’s eyes, I think we should believe that our sexuality is a special gift, one that is taken for granted in our culture today. Although it is not something to be ashamed of, there is a right time and a right place to use it – and that’s within the context of marriage between a man and a woman. Revealing anything that was only meant to be for your husband’s eyes cheats him and yourself out of the full beauty of this special gift. We would all be a whole lot better off if we began to see it that way.
I’ve have been led on an incredible personal journey that led me to understand modesty in this way. From writing and delivering a sermon on modesty, to teaching a Bible study about it, to writing a spoken word poem on the topic, God has developed a passion within me to declare the truth on this subject. I may even write more about it in the future, but for now I feel like the poem I completed this summer is the best way to summarize my conclusions. If you have found anything I’ve said in this post to be inspiring, please consider sharing this video, for it hasn't gotten very much response. [There is also a link to my modesty sermon at the end of the video if you are interested]
“Now, I’m not going to give you a list of fashion do’s and don’t
Because if I ask you to go through your closet, you probably won’t
But I will ask you a question with wisdom I need to impart:
What does your clothing reveal about the condition of your heart?”