Modesty is not a word we like to talk about in Christian circles anymore. Partly because it was so abused in years past by those who used it legalistically instead of with a heart of grace and passion for Jesus. It is my joy to welcome to the Redeemed Girl blog my friend Morgan Morris. Not only is she stunningly beautiful inside and out, but she’s also a woman who’s discovered Jesus is better than any accolade the world can offer.” — Marian Ellis
Some people know me best as a Miss Oklahoma USA, some know me as a former model; some even know me as a missionary. I have worn many hats over the years, but in my recent days, I am becoming most known as Morgan, a military spouse, and new mom. –All of this is a part of my story, yes, but what I want you to know more than anything today is that I am a redeemed girl.
I recognized my need for Jesus and received Him into my life when I was six years old. Honestly, I cannot remember a time when God was not there for me— Reflecting on His faithfulness from the beginning continually takes my breath away. But even though I decided to follow Christ as a child, I did not always live as a committed Christian. Even though I knew the Lord while competing at Miss USA and working in the modeling industry, my choices did not always reflect it. I made a lot of compromises, allowing the enemy to have numerous footholds in my life and my identity.
Thankfully, we serve an intentional God, involved in the intricate details of our lives— A God who never stops pursuing us, even when we fail him, even when we run, even when we rebel. No matter what we are experiencing… good or evil, joy or misery, success or failure, submission or rebellion… he does not leave us alone. He does not allow his kids to stay in that place of defiance, but instead, He does whatever it takes to draw us back to Himself… and sometimes, this involved pain.
Here’s the thing though—pain is usually something we try to avoid, right? We don’t like to feel pain because it can lead to shame and sadness, even anger and bitterness—a whole range of emotions. But sometimes, it can lead to joy and life transformation. How often do we let God use a heartbreaking experience to be a heart changing one (2 Cor. 2:9-10)?
Without going into too much detail, I was once deeply hurt by someone; I would even say betrayed. This was a person who pretended to be my friend while spewing hatred about me to others. I had no idea of course and was completely blindsided by her contempt for me. One day, my ears got a sample of what she really thought. I could feel the malice in her voice, and it pierced my heart. She called me every name in the book and meant every syllable. I broke into a cold sweat and my mind raced – replaying each venomous word.
But, the truth? Ninety-eight percent of what she said was wicked and absolute rubbish. Words meant by the enemy to harm and debilitate me. Lies meant as shame for me to carry.
By the grace of God, I did not “own” or internalize that which was identity-crushing, as we so often do. Instead, every falsehood seemed to fall by the wayside. And as grateful as I am for that discernment and protection, I am even more grateful for what came next.
While she continued to voice her abhorrence, there stood loudly, a sentence that rocked me to the core—not because it was nasty, but because it was…. true.
This sentence… this one small sentence began to echo into my spirit. “She shows her ‘fruits’, alright.” (Implying the display of my body, but using wordplay to associate “fruits” of the spirit).
Instead of brushing this off, I immediately fell to my knees, and I wept… and wept…. and wept. God had used this vicious attack to reveal something to me that I had suppressed and denied.
For many years, I treated myself a commodity, instead of as a person. I did not live, as one deemed sacred by God. I did not honor his heart for protecting what was innocent. I was both insecure and prideful, using the gifts that God gave me to profit myself at the expense of anything and anyone. If wearing this outfit or exposing a little more of myself led to more work, recognition, or acceptance—so be it.
For far too long, I justified my decisions and actions. But, self-justification always distorts reality, and the reality was that while I thought I was submitted to Christ, my heart was not fully His. The reality was that God did not have all of me…
When it came to social media, I was not concerned about what I would post, nor was I mindful of how those images represented Christ. Simply put, I did not care enough to change; not until the Holy Spirit exposed me.
Friends, it didn’t feel good to admit that cultural recognition had become priority over God’s approval. It didn’t feel good to see that I had been completely consumed with what was fleeting and worthless, gaining the whole world, yet forfeiting my soul (Mark 8:36). It didn’t feel good to acknowledge that I was living entirely for myself and not for my King, focusing everything on a shell that was fading every day, rather than on a spirit that would live forever.
It didn’t feel good, no… but it was exactly what sparked the desire for change in my heart. In this moment, I realized that if God did not have all of me… then he did not have me… that true worship is found in total commitment… that this faith journey we walk with Jesus Christ of Nazareth is meant to be an all or nothing pledge… and that God fundamentally despises double-heartedness, even equates it to “turning” one’s heart away from him (1 Kings 11).
I even realized that everything I had been longing for—love, acceptance, and beauty— was already mine in Christ.
All of this… from a sentence—a sentence meant to harm me, delivered by someone who hated me (Genesis 50:20).
With a face drenched in tears, I cried out to the living God.
“Lord,” I prayed, “I am tired.”
I am tired of trying to prove my worth or earn my affirmation. I am tired of feeling as if I have to show off my body in order to make a place in the world or be on guard to keep my place. I am tired of feeling pressured to contribute something so that society will value me.
But mostly, I am tired of …failing you.
I am tired of running after the futility of pleasure and wealth…
I am tired of chasing after everything that is meaningless…
I am tired of giving in to my flesh – the flesh that I hate.
I don’t want to crave the approval of man over you, but I do. I don’t want to allow forces outside of Christ to control me… but they do.
I no longer want my life dictated by status, or beauty, or any amount of attention that clothing could bring me. I no longer want to be enslaved by what other people think of me. I am desperate, Holy Spirit, for you to intervene.
Will you release me from this? Will you help me take back the ground that my enemy has been ruling? Will you empower me to break free from his grip? Will you remove this heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh? …A heart that is sensitive to sin. …A heart that beats as one with yours. …A heart that seeks and desires purity in every sense of the word.
…A heart that is completely surrendered to you.
Today, I give you all of me, and I implore you, Lord Jesus, with every fiber of my being…
Will… you… change me?”
With shaky knees, I stood up from my puddle of tears, and I knew that this time was different. I knew that my heart had been transformed. And even in the midst of deep pain, there was boundless joy… because there is always joy in the presence of the Lord.
Friends, a massive spiritual shift happened on this day, and I have never been the same. Romans 5:20 says, “But where sin increased, grace increased all the more!” In other words, there’s no one His grace cannot reach and nothing His grace cannot redeem. This is my redemption story. … The story of the enemy using a woman in an attempt to destroy me – The story of God using her hateful words to instead convict me – The ongoing story of giving God… all of me.
Have you given the Lord all of you? Have you allowed pain and negative experiences to be turned to good in his hands?
For those of you facing a similar battle right now, I will say this— Desiring modesty is an extraordinarily difficult fight to win in our world. In fact, until Jesus Christ becomes our heart’s chief authority, it will not even be possible to genuinely live out holiness. Until the Lord has become both our leader and our greatest treasure, modesty will seem outdated and irrelevant.
Until we truly understand the gospel of Jesus Christ and the price he paid for us, his treasure, we will not value ourselves as sacred and sanctified. Until we grasp that every other pleasure in this world is temporary and fleeting, our flesh will continue to blind us from the truth. Until we have grown to love the Holy Spirit and long for his fruit more than man’s praise, we will live for the approval of others. Until we recognize that joy, peace, purity and abundant life is found in Christ alone, we will search for it in every wrong way the enemy offers.
Until we view our relationship with Jesus Christ as sweeter than honey and more precious than gold… Until we see his power and glory and consider our Lord’s love as better than life… Until we count –everything— as loss for the sake of knowing him intimately… Our perspective on clothing, our appearance, and life itself will forever be controlled by powers that do not honor Christ.
This is everything, ladies. We do not choose modesty out of legalism or rules— we choose it because we treasure Jesus Christ over it all.
May every choice we make in this life reflect that our hearts belong to King… Jesus.