“Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; Who, being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God hath highly exalted him, and given Him a name which is above every name: That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.” Philippians 2:4-10
Our weekly Christian devotional
It has been a few years since I worked as a stripper. But like a haunting nightmare, the memories of those days are as vivid to me as if I had just danced this past weekend.
Most people assume that after a career of enticing men, I wouldn’t think too highly of them. Although I must admit that being a stripper didn’t do much to enhance my impression of men; the most damaging part of my job was how it affected my view of people–in general. The saddest part was that stripping made the most terrible impact on how I saw myself.
I became an expert chameleon. And for over a decade, I invested a lot of time and money in learning every trick of the trade. Not only did I invest a hefty chunk to enhance my chest, I dyed my boring brown locks into an enticing shade of blonde. And, of course, who needs brown eyes when you can have baby blues for the price of colored contacts? Sadly, the madness didn’t stop there—I practically tanned myself into another ethnicity, trained my petite legs to walk in eight-inch stilettos and probably dieted and exercised about half my brain cells away…
The unfortunate truth was, the more I moved away from the real ‘me’, the more money I made. This truth couldn’t be denied; the proof was in my garter. It expanded considerably with every alteration that was made.
It didn’t take long for this job’s poisonous ways to start affecting my already low self-esteem. It was my choice to fashion myself into becoming a desired object. And, for a while, I was actually okay with that. After all, I was a very expensive object that many were willing to pay astronomical amount of money for! So, of course I naturally concluded that: “I must be valuable!”
Sadly, that ‘value’ was based on an illusion. And, this illusion had an upkeep that was starting to consume more time, effort and money to maintain. Eventually, my roots would begin to grow out and the fake tan would wash off in these strange, uneven spots… My beautifully fake luster would begin to fade again. And when my mousey humanity would poke through I would quickly find a way to smash it back into oblivion with whatever cash my garter could pony up. Some days I could only afford a set of fake lashes or nails. On good days, I would treat myself to a three hour hair torture of highlights and low lights. But, the consistently sick truth was that my life was always about…me.
When I quit dancing, I went through what I can only describe as terrible withdrawal symptoms. Although I can’t say that I have never been addicted to any foreign substance, my pride and vanity were getting massive doses of affirmation the whole time I worked as a stripper. And, when I quit, my ego got a huge wake-up call.
For so long, I saw people from such a warped point of view: What I could get from them, and what they wanted to get from me. I was constantly grappling with trying to have it all and feeling like nothing was ever truly mine.
When I read Philippians 2:4-10 it was a complete reversal of thinking for me. How could I possibly tend to the needs of others? Who would look after me? I wasn’t just your garden-variety kind of selfish—I was selfish to the core.
Learning how to trust God was one of the hardest things I have ever done. But, putting myself out there be available to help others was actually much harder. After being a predator for so long, I almost felt as if God was expecting me to actually become the prey. After all that I had learned about people–I was wise enough to know that this kind of behavior was risky to say the least! It felt downright insane.
But, as Philippians 2:4-10 reminds us, Christ was God wrapped up in human flesh. If Jesus could humble Himself to be a servant to others, I started to see that my ‘great excuses’ for not obeying didn’t really give me a stable stiletto to stand on.
So, who am I, exactly? Honestly, I don’t have a cut and dried answer for that yet. I’m slowly beginning to discover this for myself as the petals of my salvation experience continue to unfold everyday.
On certain days, I’m excited about what the Lord will show me. On others, I feel like hiding under the blanket of Jesus, not daring to touch the floor and face another day attempting to be vulnerable and kind–again.
Like I said, my selfishness runs to the core. But, I suppose my simple acknowledgement of this is actually good news. For years, my depravity didn’t bother me at all. And, I can honestly that my recognition of it is how I know that God is real.
You see, God said that if simply ask Him, He will open the eyes of your heart. He will allow you to see yourself as you truly are. But, there is relief in the fact that He has no intentions to just leave you in that state. He will kindly give you the keys to change (the Bible) and the power to do it (the Holy Spirit).
Today when catch a glimpse of myself, I no longer see an angry girl who is running away from herself. I see a woman who is exploring just how beautiful God can make her from the inside out. And, I’m finally beginning to understand that true beauty isn’t a commodity that can be purchased at Sephora. It is something that only God can develop. And this development can only happen as I continually allow Him to change me. One day at a time…from glory to glory.
“Dear Heavenly Father,
When I think about what Jesus did at the cross, His humility and submission humbles me. Who am I that you would send your Son to die for a selfish person like me?
I’ve lived for myself my whole life. Others came as a vague and passing thought; the needs of God weren’t even considered.
Lord, how patient you have been with me. I don’t deserve to be a loved by you. Yet, I know you love me. I feel your mercy bathe me every morning.
Help me to be as good to others as you have been to me. Give me eyes to be particularly merciful to those who are living in blinded selfishness like I was.
If Jesus could die for me, I can do more than I am doing today. Show me what Jesus would do if He were living in my body…because He is. He is living in my heart. Let His heart rise to the surface of my hands and feet; that I may walk in love. In Jesus’ precious name, because you deserve my best shot, Amen.”
Thank you for reading our weekly Christian devotional on verses: Philippians 2:4-10
Please check back and see what we have for you next week!
Author: Julia Shalom Jordan
Photo credit: Rich Markese