Modesty Unfolded: Sarah A.

What is Modesty to you?

I believe modesty starts from within, in my heart, and from there it is reflected in the way that I dress, my character, and other areas of my life. For the longest time I believed I was modest because I covered up and wore knee length skirts, but in my heart, I still desired to receive ungodly attention from guys and envy from girls. I appeared modest on the outside, but on the inside, it was a completely different story. Thank God for deliverance. Now I understand modesty to be an inward working. ‘As a man thinks in his heart, so is he,’ right? So modesty doesn’t start when I’m shopping or picking out an outfit, it starts in my heart, and in turn, what is in my heart is reflected in the clothes I decide to wear.


Also, modestly does not mean boring or ugly. There is beauty in being able to express yourself through what you wear without having to unnecessarily expose yourself.


How would you describe your style?

I would describe my style as simple, urban, chic, and comfy! I love being able to show my personality through my outfits, whether it be with a pop of color, print, or a statement piece.

How has your style changed once you started pursuing Christ?

My style has changed quite a bit since I started pursuing Christ and overall maturing as a woman of God. Before I gave my life to Christ, I didn’t have a set standard to look to so I found  myself wearing all manner of things ranging from too short, to too tight, to just not right. After giving my life to Christ, the Holy Spirit really helped me with dressing in a way that aligns with my fashion sense but is also pleasing to God.


What are some things you take into consideration when shopping for clothes and getting dressed?

When shopping and getting dressed, I always go by the phrase “when in doubt, throw it out.” This goes for whether an outfit is appropriate, whether it’s worth the price, or whether I truly need it. I also like hitting up my friends for a second opinion. My best friend, Abby, and I always FaceTime each other when we can’t decide on an outfit. Like what do you think about this? Is this shirt too much? Pants or skirt? Heels or no heels? It always helps!

I also simply ask the Holy Spirit. Huh? Yeah! He is our helper and loves when we ask for help. On numerous occasions, the Holy Spirit has highlighted specific outfits or pieces for me to wear, and I always feel the best when wearing them because they are essentially hand-picked by heaven ;)

Where do you typically go shopping?

I like to shop at a variety of stores. Like most women, I enjoy shopping at Forever21, H&M, Asos, and Zara (when my bank account is willing), but I also love shopping at other retailers like Ross, Marshall’s, TJ Max, Plato’s Closet and THE THRIFT STORE. The thrift store is a major key y’all, not only because it is extremely affordable, but also because you get one-of-a-kind pieces and rare finds.

What is your typical Sarah outfit?

Hmmm… A typical Sarah outfit. Well, for everyday school, hanging out with friends, etc I’m usually wearing fitted jeans or slim fitting pants paired with some sort of button down or loose fitting shirt. I loooove button down shirts so you’ll probably catch me wearing one 9 times out of 10. Accessory wise, I typically keep it basic with a watch, studs, and a necklace. When it comes to special occasions, like birthday dinners and formal celebrations, my outfits are usually spontaneously put together, so every time is honestly something different.

What fashion statements are you fond of?

Hmmm, I’m fond of a lot, but I love all black/all white outfits, everything olive green, plaid/polka dot print, loafers, and pointed shoes!


purity of motive doesn’t cancel the effect of your appearance.


 

What is one fashion tip you would like to share with young adult women?

A tip I’m always giving is “purity of motive doesn’t cancel the effect of your appearance.” This quote stung a bit the first time I heard it, but it’s the truth man. In today’s society, the common idea is for responsibility to solely be placed on men and not women. i.e women should be free to do as they please, if a man stumbles it’s his fault, etc. But as women, I believe there is responsibility on our part as well. I don’t feel comfortable calling someone my brother in Christ knowing that what I’m wearing is causing him to stumble. Also as a worship leader, I never want to be in a place where my outfit is the center of attention when people should be engaging in worship.

 

Photos taken by Toyin Akinwande


 
My Choice to Trust

I was always considered the good girl amongst my group of friends growing up. I rarely indulged in illegal activities or things that I felt were against my character. Although my mom raised me well with no help, but I still had hidden issues.

The issues that I struggled with felt and still feel so big sometimes. It used to seem like it was easier to continue ignoring it, but, as I am growing older I realize that ignoring my issues cause it to show up in another form. I’ve learned that the issue is only one thing: my lack of trust in God.

Whenever I knowingly sin, I used to find it overwhelmingly embarrassing to face God, people and even myself to deal with it. I tend to ignore it and managed to convince myself that the sin I committed is not something I would do, because it’s against my character. It’s against my character but I did it though, and so I needed to seek God and repent.

I felt like Eve. She hid from God, knowing that He would find her after she sinned. God knows my issue, so why can’t He just take it away? Why do I still need to confess? Why can’t He just magically make me trust Him? If I try trusting Him, will all my other problems go away? What if they don’t, will I have any reason to still trust Him?

I sinned because I did not trust God. I settled because I did not trust God. I’ve dealt with soul ties because I did not trust God.

I don’t think I understood, or trusted, how much God loves me, to be honest. If I trusted God I would not fear what I fear now. If I trusted God, I would not run away from Him when I sinned because I know that He will cleanse me. If I trusted God, I would not be unwilling to pray for a stranger or a friend who is sick or needs salvation. If I trusted God, I would be able to love and be loved unconditionally.


How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.

   They cannot be numbered!

I can’t even count them;

   they outnumber the grains of sand!

And when I wake up,

   you are still with me!

Psalm 138: 17-18


 

If I could just focus on this scripture alone, if I could just focus on the precious thoughts that God has for me, there would be no space for self-doubt.


Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

Isaiah 41: 10


If I could just apply this scripture in my life, there would be no space for fear or discouragement.


Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4: 6-7


If I could grasp the meaning of this scripture, the would be no space for worry.

My lack of trust is not because God has failed me, but it is because I have not comprehended how big God is, so the mediocre things I asked God for do not come to pass because He has far greater plans for my life. I may not see it now, but I have to know and believe that God knows best.

Now when I ask Jesus, “why nothing seems to be going my way?,” He replies,

“You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will” John 13:7.
 

And so all that is left to do is trust.


 
Sticks & Stones

As unique humans beings, we all receive and perceive love differently. Ideally, there are five ways we “receive” love from other people: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time and Physical Touch. My love language is words of affirmation (as well as quality time). But no really, I really admire and cherish people sharing their hearts about me, to me. To this day, I still have birthday and graduation cards that I read randomly to rehear people’s words of affection towards me. I’m that person who has a journal of recorded and documented prophesies.

Although receiving words of affirmation, is a way for me to experience God’s love through His people, they had started to become a snare in my walk as a believer. Words of affirmation are suppose to bring out the best in me, but instead they’ve revealed how ugly my heart really was.

I’m sure we’re all familiar with popular Christianese phrase “if you don’t live by the praise of man, you wouldn’t die by their criticisms.” I wish that was my case, but I was dying internally from the lack of affirmation. Weird, right? But the weird part was that I wasn’t looking for affirmation in the sense of people complimenting how amazing my outfit was, or how white my teeth were, or how beautiful I was. It was the lack of affirmation in ministry that was causing me to lose my grip on life and creating tension between the friends I served with and I.

A friend once said, “You can’t say you don’t deal with something anymore if the opportunity to do it hasn’t presented itself to test you.” Meaning that you could possibly still have something residing in your heart, but because there hasn’t been an incident to test you, that thing hasn’t had it chance to manifest itself in your outward actions. Capishe?

The opportunity to see the inner battles of my heart presented itself this past summer when I was asked to join my ministry's Discipleship leadership board as the administer director. I had been involved with the department for two years and was a by-product of the discipleship program, so I was honored and excited to continue serving, but also ecstatic that it was on a higher capacity. And the plus side was I was serving with some of my closest friends. But these weren’t just any friends. These were the people you called to lead bible study, or administer deliverance, or even for godly advice on everyday life situations. It is one thing to do life with people like this, but another to serve with them.

Now that the opportunity had presented itself, it was a matter of time before the heart issue manifested. So as I mentioned, I was the administrative director. With a distorted view, I found myself being frustrated because I was under the impression that my role was insignificant. I wasn’t leading the training calls and I wasn’t teaching, so I indirectly assumed I wasn’t an adequate teacher, which led to my childhood battle with speech insecurities to resurface. But mainly, I wasn’t being affirmed like the other leaders. All I seemed to be doing was sending emails. Because I had no one telling me the significance of my role, I began believing my role wasn’t significant. Because I failed to see the great need for it in the department, I didn't take full advantage of my role.

In December, a group of us were at IHOP-KC Onething Conference. It was during a worship set one night, when Misty Edward ministered “I Shall Not Want.” It was right there and then when God affirmed me. As Misty sang, I could feel God comfort me and also remove the insecurities I was dealing with. Even in the prophesy room, God spoke through two fatherly mannered men about things God delighted in me. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom indeed. I was free, or so I thought. Remember the opportunity had to presents itself for me to be tested.

The opportunity presented itself once again. And it led to jealousy and offense towards people I really loved. After a week of the frustration, I called my personal prophet. He said one thing that put a halt to my inner battle: “Ask God what He has for Olamide. You need God to tell you what He sees in you.*Boom* Shots fired. Who got hit? I was silent. My issue was I needed to hear that I was valuable and needed; but my solution wasn’t found in man, it was literally found in Christ.

My life verse is Colossians 3:3

"For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

Well, my identity is hiding in Him as well.


 “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!”

Psalm 139:17 NKJV


While recently studying the Book of John, the Holy Spirit highlighted how Jesus really wasn’t seeking public recognition, but was secure in His identity, because He knew where it lied. Jesus proclaimed to be the Son of God, but yet many people didn’t believe Him. Including His family.


“‘For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.’ For even His brothers did not believe in Him.

John 7:4-6


But that’s the thing. Man will affirm you for what they see in public. We affirm traits we see people display and attributes they personify in their demeanor.

But God...God is different. He affirms us on what we do in the secret place, what we do in the heart. He affirms what is concealed to the human eye, revealing our inward nature and calling us by that. With God, it's not a matter of doing, but of simply being.


But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’”

1st Samuel 16:17


“... and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”
Matthew 6:18


Affirmation from man is temporary, but affirmation from God is eternal, for two keys reasons: 1. God is not a man that he should (or even could) lie and 2. God’s word doesn’t come back void, but fulfilled.

But God will affirm you at the appointed time, and before the right people.


"When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’”

Matthew 3:16-17


How we receive love shapes and forms how we perceive the relationships we have. Once I knew the state of my heart, I was able to be vulnerable with those around me. I began to confess to my friends the battles I was secretly dealing with. With full transparency, I shared how I felt and was able to receive my much needed healing, peace, and assurance.


”Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.”

James 5:16


“Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

Roman 8:30


Until the time, when God raises me up in His hands, I will be here dwelling in His Heart. There is no better feeling to know you are His and He is your’s.


 
 
True Life: I didn't wake up like this [The story before the glory]

I woke up ugly actually. Dried up saliva marks. Bad breath. Flesh. My hair bonnet missing.  Eye boogers. Swollen eyes. Flesh. Irritated. Moody. Did I say flesh?
The Christian world promotes an idea of transparency, but we often fail to do so.  We project a false sense of perfection, while knowing that the only thing perfect about us is God. I fall prey to this too.

Lauren DeMoss Benson once said:  "The only reason why the Proverbs 31 woman can be previewed as ’perfect’ is because she is a product of the God who lives within her. The only thing that's perfect about her is Him. She doesn't place her hope in her husband, her family or her looks, but in God." I have absolutely no goodness on my own, anything good or perfect about me is truly from God and His goodness towards me.


“The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.”

Psalm 145:9 (ESV)


People tend to perceive me as that “Christian girl” that always talks about Jesus. People most often identify me with adjectives and titles like “happy, joyful, kind, prayer warrior and woman of God,” but in this article, I would like to shed some light on “the story before the glory” and what the Lord takes me through in my walk with Him.

A lot of women in our generation desire the “glory” without the “story.” In other words, we want the end product without going through the process, but in this walk with Jesus, there are no shortcuts to glory. There is no product without a process.


“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”

James 1:2-4 (MSG)


Let me elaborate in a more relatable way ladies; it's like long, bouncy, shiny & soft Brazilian hair. People admire and compliment it, not knowing that the vendor was terrible. It started tangling by the second week, the shedding amount was ridiculous and you did so much just to get to how it is now. Or for my team naturals, who felt like I just spoke in tongues, you know when you see a bomb twist out and you're like “wow that twist out is so defined and fluffy,” not realizing that the girl you're admiring bought a $12 curl wax and spent 2 hours of her previous night to get it like that. Honey, there is a story before the glory. Can I get an amen?

*waits for congregation to respond*

Before any woman of God can ever be deemed as admirable before the public, she has to go through a process. Here are three major stories that I’m sharing, based on my experience with the Lord and His Word. These are stories that I have to go through on a daily basis (process) before the “glory” that everyone on the outside gets to see (product). All of these stories require obedience in order to truly walk out this relationship with the Lord. Before we can be transformed into His image, we have to first let Him in, listen to what He says and respond with a “yes, Lord,” giving him permission to move in his fullness and it reveals that he is truly the Ruler (Lord) of our lives.


“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?

Luke 6:46 (ESV)


First Story: The story of Holiness

Before salvation, holiness was once a word that I wasn’t really familiar with. When I thought of holiness, I just imagined a halo above Mother Teresa. Holiness simply means “being set apart unto God.”  It’s a war to live in this world as a young Christian female. I’m most often surrounded by a world that forces me to choose between itself and God when it comes to entertainment, fashion and conversations. I literally choose to neither respond to specific texts nor carry along with specific conversations, nor attend specific events because I know that it's not what the Lord has called me to do or be apart of.

The Lord makes us holy by His spirit; Jesus said that He was going to send us The “Holy” Spirit.


“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

John 14:26 (ESV)


In a world that’s full of “spirituals,” He could’ve just said He was going to send us his Spirit but He added “Holy” meaning His “set apart” Spirit--His Spirit that is not like any other spirit in this world. He sets us apart because He is already set apart.

It says in Philippians 2:13 “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”


 “As for us, we can’t help but thank God for you, dear brothers and sisters loved by the Lord. We are always thankful that God chose you to be among the first to experience salvation—a salvation that came through the Spirit who makes you holy and through your belief in the truth.”

2 Thessalonians 2:13 (NLT)


Before any sort of “glory,” you have to allow the Holy Spirit to set you apart from the world.


“So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”

1 Peter 1:13-16 (NLT)


Second Story: The story of Sanctification

Ouch that hurts!

Do you think my heart naturally wakes up everyday and says "Good morning , beautiful birds! Hi beautiful family that I love ever so much! Jesus is awesome! Let me post something encouraging on Instagram today!" Some people are naturally perky, but I'm definitely not. Don’t get me wrong, some days I do wake up happy, but this isn't la la land. Most times I wake up like, "who's this knocking on my door?! ugh I hate waking up early. oh my gosh, I can't believe I have to do that today. Why is my eyeliner still on my eyes. Oh my gosh, it's raining." I have to make decisions everyday to deny myself and carry my cross and follow the Lord Jesus Christ, because when I wake up, my flesh wakes up too. So what do I do? What do you do? KILL IT. How do you kill it? Live by the power of the Holy Spirit, and the weapon of the Spirit is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17)


For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.

Romans 8:13 (NLT)


Sanctification is holiness in action and also working with God on our pursuit of holiness. When God sanctifies you, He goes through areas of your life that don’t look like Him and He molds them to reflect him. Here’s two out of a million examples; one would be as challenging as music. It was a big deal for me because it was painful to relinquish, but I gave it to God. Guess what? The Lord was sanctifying me to reflect Him and eventually I no longer desired to listen to those artists. The other can be as simple as waking up grumpy. As I read the word, the Lord began to renew my mind and show me that everyday is indeed a day that He has made, He is in control of everything and He is with me.

When you read His word and let the Lord in, that's when you will experience the power of God.


“May the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”

1 Thessalonians 5:23 (ESV)


Third Story: The story of Surrendering

Despite how perfect my walk with the Lord may seem on social media or in fellowships, the Lord continuously reveals to me my heart, my rebellious ways and my tendencies to not desire to obey, forgive or rejoice in trials. Instead, sometimes I do want to be petty, respond in anger and irritation or text that boy the Lord told me NOT to. Sometimes I do want attention, sometimes I don’t want to lay my life down and sometimes I’m selfish.

Without Jesus and His grace, I might as well be the prodigal daughter every moment of the day.

Despite how perfect I may seem, the Lord reveals layers and layers of brokenness and hurts that I still carry.  But do you know what separates me from who I was yesterday? Jesus. He doesn’t only show me how I’ve fallen short, but He shows me my identity and His love, strength and power.  Jesus empowers me to walk in His righteousness. Jesus’ beauty transforms my rebellion to my surrender. I love Jesus so much, but it’s His love for me that draws my heart to surrender. He’s so good that even in my unrepentant state, He graces me to repent. Repentance simply means turning from sin and turning to God--but before you can do any turning, you have to first surrender. Surrendering is daily; the only way I can be deemed as “admirable” is because I’ve surrendered to the beauty and perfection of Jesus inside of me.

A life laid down is at risk of experiencing Jesus & his power.


“Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.”

Matthew 16:24 (NLT)


In Conclusion, as a young Christian female I am here to tell you that we haven’t arrived and as long as we're still on this earth, we never will arrive. In this walk with Jesus, there is always a story before the glory. Our glorious end product is to look like Christ. Allow him to take you through the process so you can have your own story and most confidently attain the end product, which is Jesus, your glory.



 
#BecomingHer Intro

When you were growing up, did you ever think about what it would be like to grow up? All the things you would experience? All the things you would accomplish? All the people you would encounter? What about being brought back to your true Father and experiencing a love that would never fail you?

 

When I was a girl, I never really thought about that, or about the idea of womanhood. I just knew I would grow up, but I never really knew what that would entail. Now that I’ve grown up and have been renewed in Christ, my biggest thought has been, “How I am growing in the woman that God has called me to be?

 

This series, #BecomingHer, is more than just talking about the “ideals” of womanhood. It’s about shifting through our life experiences and learning from them as we become “her.” Her is not a standard made up by the world, or even Christian culture. Her is defined as whoever God has called you and purposed you to be, and thankfully that looks different for each of us.

 

We are all destined to walk in different paths, but each path includes walking in power, wholeness, grace, and a full understanding of His love for us. As His daughters, His greatest desire is that we would understand our identity in Him, and from that flourish into our purpose as daughters of the Kingdom.

 

As we launched this series, our desire was that we would just simply give you a glimpse into the lives of women who are in the process of #BecomingHer. As you walk with us on this journey, we want to hear your stories about how God is moving you into the talents, successes, purposes, and identity that He’s called you to.


Recognize your journey, and know that in this time, you are #BecomingHer.