Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Practicing What I Preach

For a while, I’ve been practicing not looking at men. I don’t mean “looking” at them – I mean looooooking at them. I even exchanged my primary crush on the bald beauty of Bruce Willis for the striking stature of the Chrysler Building.

Recently, though, I was with a male friend and commented on how much I respected that I’ve never seen him stare at a woman. Ever. (And yes, he’s completely heterosexual.) “It’s not easy,” he said. “But I set my mind to it and it comes easier with time.” He said he thought it was probably more difficult for him to not let his eyes trail a woman than for me in my efforts with men. So I tried to put myself in his shoes and perform a one-week experiment of not staring at women.

Initially, I thought I mostly looked at women to admire their fashion. I was wrong. Way wrong. On day one, I realized that I would stare at an attractive woman in workout clothes longer than a well-dressed but unattractive woman. I deduced that my purpose in looking at women was actually to assess their value, to judge them as “worthy” or “unworthy” of love. The attractive people were “worthy,” of course. This disgusted me about myself.

I realized that, in my weaker moments, I compared myself to other women. Someone once told me that comparison is a joy-stealer. Not only that, but it ignores the image of God that He has placed in that person.

If it makes me sick to see men leering at a woman, why would I let myself do it? Of course, I don’t offer the pathetic catcall that he does, but I’m still focusing on the same things. Maybe he’s lusting after her, but I’m judging her. It’s causing me to stumble too, just in a different way... I stumble into pride or vanity or self-condemnation.

By the end of the week, it had become much easier not to look. And a funny thing happened—I think I developed a stronger sense of confidence. I always thought I had a pretty healthy self-image, but this trained me in a new way. I even found that I had less of a desire to linger on TV shows or magazines that featured a parade of beauties. I didn’t want to judge myself against their standard or judge them against my own.

I’m doing what I can to kill this thing in me… this monster of self. So I decided to keep it up—not just for that weeklong experiment, but as a general method of operation. In an unexpected way, this new restriction kind of set me free. Weird.


palomita said...

Funny how truth is paradoxical that way, huh?

Thanks for being so transparent. It's inspiring.

Anonymous said...

You would have me read this entry right before I click the "Photos" link at the top of your website. lol. [sigh] I guess I will just be satisfied with the photo in your masthead. :)

Really though... great post. I will give it a try. (especially difficult for a man taking mass transit every day)

- one of your long lost R&B/Rock buddies in DC

Anonymous said...

How encouraging it is to see how you are allowing God to work in you , and you are making a CHOICE to be honest in order to walk in freedom. I am SO encouraged by this post for many different reasons. What stands out to me most, its your determination to kill self. That's right where I am right now. Battling my greatest enemy...myself. God bless you Tara-Leigh. Thank you for being so candid.

Amy said...

Wow, great post! I do the same thing, too. I'm like, "Wow, she's pretty...I'm so...not." You're right; it really is a silly thing we women do. Sigh...

Leslie Delk said...

I wanted you to know that I so appreciate your transparency in so many of your posts, it's refreshing. I never realized how often I let my glances linger until reading this. As I was driving home yesterday I noticed out of the corner of my eye as I was turning the corner that this young man had his shirt off. I kept my eyes on the road. I was a little surprised that it required a conscious effort, but how great it was to stare at the road!

Thanks, TLC. Love your writing, love your music. Isn't it true that there's no better thing than being used by God for His glory? Keep it up. Maybe we'll be at NewSpring at the same time one day.

Leslie(Amber Roberts' friend in FL-sometimes it's nice to know about mutual contacts)