“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna.” (Revelation 2:17)
There are none among us who can truthfully boast of faultlessness. I wish to speak particularly now to those who are earnestly endeavoring to live a Christian life. Such girls will have seasons of inward searchings and examinations that will bring them face to face with their own shortcomings and weakness. What shall they do with them?
There is the fault of irresolution. A person, to be of strong character, must be able to make up his mind, to make decisions and to stand by those decisions in the face of hindrances and opposition. He who is irresolute is not sure of himself. He is ever going back to see whether or not he made a mistake in his decision. We have read of the character in Pilgrim’s Progress who saw lions in the way, and was not strong enough to march up to them. They who did face their lions found them bound so that they could not reach the path. But he who is irresolute never gets that far.
The girl who has acquired the habit of halting between opinions, of never making up her mind on anything, needs to take herself in hand sternly, look problems in the face, march right out to meet them, and fight her own battles through. To the one who is determined to win, victory will come.
Self-consciousness is a sister of irresolution. She causes her victim to keep his eyes on only himself, to study his own thoughts and feelings and acts, and to look to condemn. When he goes into the company of others, he feels that all eyes are upon him; when he undertakes to do anything, he is conscious of his every word and act, and blushing, stammering, apologizing, he succeeds in doing just the thing he hates—getting eyes upon himself.
The girl who is self-conscious needs to begin doing something for others. If you go into company, seek out someone who needs encouragement, a helping hand, and give it. Possibly you will see another more miserably embarrassed than you are; if so, help that one. There is no cure for self-consciousness like keeping busy and interested in others. Those terrible feelings come only to those who have time to entertain them.
Here is a girl whose besetting fault is sharpness of speech. It may come from nervousness of temperament, from environment, or from some other cause; but no matter what the cause, the result is always the same, hurting and wounding those who hear. Such a girl needs first of all to guard her thoughts. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” (Matthew 12:34) If sharp, critical thoughts are allowed, then sharp, critical words will be the result. If we will form the habit of watching for good things in others and of speaking about them, kindness will become a habit.
Another fault is an inordinate love for pretty things. I say “inordinate,” for there is a proper appreciation for those things that are beautiful that is allowable in everyone. But she who has too great a love for these things sets great value upon their possession. Pride and vanity are almost certain to be the close companions of a love for personal adornment. Money that should go for more necessary things is given for things beautiful. The girl becomes dissatisfied with the home and surroundings as she finds them, developing a deep dislike for what should be dear to her, all because they do not meet her ideal of beauty.
Such a girl needs to learn to look well to the good that is about her. Where love is, real beauty can be found. There is nothing more beautiful than a happy, satisfied heart. If your love for pretty things so fills your heart that you cannot see the good that loving hands and hearts would bring to you, then you need to give serious attention to that which is obstructing your vision.
There is a spirit of discontent that makes the girl restless and uneasy. Now, I would not have you fully satisfied with things just as they are, so that you will not strive to improve; but that dissatisfaction that keeps a girl fretting about her fate spoils her happiness now and unfits her to appreciate what may be in the future.
Selfishness is another fault that spoils the beauty of many lives. He who is selfish looks always to his own pleasure first. If others are displeased and inconvenienced, it matters little to him, if his own desires are met. This form of selfishness can creep into the lives of those who desire to serve God. I have seen girls who, though they were Christians, were so insistent about little things, so determined to have their own way, that they spoiled the beauty that Christ would have put into their lives.
This kind of selfishness will show out again in the way that a girl will enter into her church work. She can become so engrossed with her Sunday school, or league, or her attendance at the general services that her presence there, or her time given to work for her beloved church, may mean the robbing of her mother of opportunity to get out at all. It is pitiful to see a girl engaged in even a good cause if such continually keeps her mother or her sister at home with the cares found there. A fair division is the right thing under such circumstances.
Again, selfishness will show out in the fact that the girl’s clothes are so much nicer and more up to date than what her mother wears. It may be that Mother is willing for her daughter to have the best, but that does not change the fact that the daughter is selfish if she takes the best always.
Sensitiveness is another great fault. Dema, a young woman of beautiful character, had sensitiveness as a besetting fault. At the least rebuke or criticism she would become so hurt and mortified that she would weep for hours; and many times when the speaker had not thought of bruising her at all she would suffer greatly with wounded feelings. She was visiting for some time in the home of a gentleman who was able to see the beauty of her character in spite of this outstanding fault. One day she had wept till her eyes were red over something that had not been intended as a thrust at her at all. When she reappeared in the family circle, he watched her closely, and finding her alone he called her attention to a sensitive plant growing outside the window.
If I should touch that plant ever so lightly, Dema, what would be the result?” he asked.
“I have often watched it,” she replied, “and touched it just to see its behavior. It will close up every leaf upon the whole plant and remain just so till it has recovered from the shock of my gentlest touch. It is called rightly a sensitive plant.”
“Dema, you are our sensitive plant. We have to be as careful in handling you as if you were indeed just such a plant. We should enjoy you much more if you were not so sensitive.”
The fountain of tears again burst forth as poor Dema saw herself pictured by the little plant, but going to her room she asked God to help her to overcome. Such earnest prayers do not go unanswered, especially when the supplicant is willing, as was Dema, to fight against the weakness.
There are many faults, but every one of them can be overcome if the girl sets her heart to be victorious.
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