So I have this secret…obsession (?) with refinement. You know, Christian lady-like behavior as well as being more, well… refined. If you read my post The Basics of Refined Behavior you’ll see what I mean. If our behavior can be refined, what about our appearance? Which begs me to ask the question: How does refinement look?
It started several years ago when I was playing Apples to Apples with some of the children and “refined” was one of my red cards. I turned the card to show the children and said, “This is what I want to be. Refined.” They laughed. I mentioned a friend of ours, Candace. She is a lovely, refined Christian woman. Even her name sounds refined! They agreed, yes, Candace is refined. Me… just not quite there yet.
During the summer this year I studied Christian refinement in the life of a woman. I learned a lot. I have some posts written up about it to share sometime with you all too. Refinement may sound as if it shouldn’t be a goal of a Christian woman, just as charm shouldn’t be a goal, after-all; “Charm is deceitful…” but I assure you, true refinement is most assuredly a Godly endeavor!
When It Comes To “The Look”
Have you found that, in general, you act how you look? Not in every case of course, but if you’re wearing an evening gown and seated in a high-class restaurant, you probably behave in a way that is fitting to your attire and surrounds. On the other hand, if you’re wearing your jammies at home while snuggled on the couch with your husband, you behave in a way that is fitting to that scenario. What you do and say and even your posture is different in your jammies at home than would be in an evening gown at a classy restaurant.
So What About Hair?
I have been fighting with my “hairstyle” for years. I don’t really have one. I was never one of those girls who went and got her hair cut a specific way every few weeks. I cut it myself, hence the lack of “hairstyle.” I swing back and forth between bangs and no bangs. Watching my videos probably proves that! haha…
When I thought about my hair, again, I thought about what a refined hairstyle would look like. Off to Pinterest I went. I typed in, “classy hair styles” and what I found was….
Medium length hair. No real hairstyle, but lovely and simple. And…
Yes, out of all the images I scanned through, only a few of the ladies wore bangs.
With all of this in mind I approached my husband, “I think I want to grow my bangs out.”
“Okay,” he said.
So I have been fighting the temptation to cut them since they were at that point where they’re just long enough to be a bit of an annoyance, yet still too short to do much else with.
Why all this on hair?
Partly because I want to share my journey to refinement, and maybe it’s your journey too! And, I want what is in my heart to show on the outside as well. I will say that I have a looooong way to go before refined behavior comes natural to me, as it might to Kate Middleton, but I’m trying, and trying to teach my daughters as I go.
How about you?
Where are you in the journey to refinement? Perhaps you considered it just a few minutes ago when you started reading this post, or you may be similar to my friend Candace and can quickly be described as a refined woman.
Either way, please leave a comment and share your thoughts on refined behavior in the life of the Christian woman.
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Stephanie Cronk says
This is a very interesting post. My question is would a woman who is overweight be considered to have a refined appearance? Or someone with short hair? Or a woman with thinning hair? Or grey hair?
Forgive me and I may be taking this personally but I am a overweight woman with starting to grey hair that is shoulder length. My hair is also thinning right on top. I wouldn’t consider myself to be pretty or refined. I think for me to try to be refined in appearance would just make me feel even worse about my looks. My question is who sets the mark of what refinement looks like? I really love your posts and you have always been a great encouragement to me.
I always hope that my posts are an encouragement, and not the other way around. I have seen beautiful (with not the “perfect” body type or size) women, with shorter, graying hair that shine the light of Jesus. They keep themselves clean and kempt and have a refined behavior.
As I mentioned, I’m still working on the behavior part, it’s not something I see modeled at every turn. I also know that though the state of our heart is of great importance, we must not neglect the outside. “Man looks at the outside…” So with that in mind, I talk about (in this post) what a refined woman may look like. Much of what I wrote is my journey, so long brown hair is taken into consideration only because that is what the LORD has given me.
I think a post on the possible “look” of refinement for older women may be in need. I very much hope I didn’t discourage you.
Stephanie Cronk says
hi Jennifer, I was discouraged. The discouragement came from my own insecurities and not from this post. I think I am having a problem with the word “refined” and my association with it. I looked it up in the dictionary and here is what I found. 1. Free from coarseness or vulgarity; polite. 2. Free of impurities; purified. 3. Precise to a fine degree. Of course I don’t want to be coarse or vulgar and I try to be polite. I do care about my outward appearance and try to dress as nice as I can and fix my hair and put on a little makeup. I just worry about where are we getting our picture of refined. I think that you are very pretty and if you decide that you like bangs it would not make you less refined. Forgive me if I’m being negative I really am not trying to be. Also, I think a post for older women would be great but I am only 46 years old. I think some women just don’t have beautiful thick hair, slender bodies and clear complexions. I hope I am making sense. I am also not refined in my written communications.
Thank you for clarifying 🙂 I’ve looked up that definition too, and know bangs or not doesn’t define refinement. Much of the post was sharing where I am in this process. And like you, my hair is not at all thick, I lack the perfect silhouette and have very dry skin. The picture of a pretty woman was used to inspire, not discourage.
We all have differences in what the LORD has given us and I believe Anna (see below) summed it up beautifully…
To being refined in how the LORD created us… 🙂
Self-acceptance is very important, as well as presention as to whether it is at the top of the day or at the end looking tired, and, also to grow stronger in not being offended is a plus because people have inside what they would like to express, and so are allowed to have the right to share their opinions, and the other is to focus on the conversation at hand, and not to think I have to keep it going, yes, these are areas for me to positively attend to for my good.
Stephanie, I loved your question and thoughtful comments. I feel refinement is the total way we present ourselves, trying to be our best self that allows God to radiate through us. Perhaps as we age, we can pursue “refinement” through the pursuit of holiness, healthy living, speech and thought. Though we may not ever be 21 again, a new sparkle, wise mindset and confidence can come from years of living life…..another kind of beauty that replaces the dew of youth. I’ve seen so many attractive, peaceful mature ladies who possess this inner refinement and wear their years proudly. Actually, some may have thinning gray hair but I never really notice as they are so interesting, loving and full of zest. No matter what they have to work with, they make the best of it and then just start focussing on others….and they are beautiful and refined to me!
“Actually, some may have thinning gray hair but I never really notice as they are so interesting, loving and full of zest.”
Exactly… perfectly stated. Thank you!
Stephanie Cronk says
Thank you Paige!
Maybe refinement is also control of the tongue. Being mindful of one’s tongue, I believe, even effects one’s posture. (Speaking of posture, that is a big element of refinement.) Proper grammar, spoken and written, also yields a sharpened refinement. Another aspect of refinement is control over knee-jerk emotional reactions, as well as the impulse to quickly defend oneself verbally. Refinement seems to look like alignment in one’s proper roles, particularly consciousness of how to honor one’s husband, being mindful of how to act regarding hierarchy. It looks like not complaining. It looks like practicing saying what you mean and meaning what you say, doing what you say you will do (as much as possible), and articulating with correct words, not exaggerating (unless it is for intentional hyperbole, etc.) nor choosing the wrong words sloppily. Lastly, refinement means being aware of others, which requires a lot of self control.
I am on the learning curve for a lot of these. My husband is the one who has taught me a lot of them. I grew up with a refined dad and picked up many good things from him. However, my husband’s style of refinement has shown me a lot of holes in my own perspectives and behavior. My dad actually did point to some of the same types of things my husband has, but he was often subtle and not persistent, whereas my husband has a gift for being direct and thoroughgoing.
My husband would say – and I attest to this as well – that being refined means being like Jesus. Jesus is the ultimate balanced person with everything just right. When we are more like Him, we are more ourselves, AND more perfect in every way, lacking nothing. Refinement is putting others first, which is what Jesus did when He was on earth, which is another way of saying, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” That’s refinement that can be evidenced in every aspect of life — physical appearance to manners to social interaction and communication.
Yes, yes and yes. Couldn’t have been worded better!
This is a lovely post. I would say it’s like modesty of appearance and actions. It’s a balance. I’m definitely more casual at home but always *try* to be more proper when going out. Thank you for your great posts!
Mrs. Sarah Coller says
I love this—every bit—and the comments, too! Thanks, Jennifer!
Melissa M. says
When I think of an older refined woman I think of Jessica Tandy. She had gray hair and it was thinning. I do not know anything about her personal life or affairs so she may have been totally different than she appeared on screen. I feel that refinement has less to do with our physical appearance (as long as we are exceptionally well-kempt!) and more with a quiet feminine confidence that is kind and friendly to others.It is restraint against unfeminine behavior, talk and posture to me.
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Mrs U says
Oh how I loved this, Jennifer! I see refined as being ladylike- a quality sorely lacking in today’s society full of yoga pants and those shirts with the holes cut out on the shoulders (I do not understand those!). There are lots of women these days, but where are the ladies? I’m not saying everyone needs to dress like Grace Kelly, but ladies shouldn’t look so frumpy! Style your hair. Put on some make up. Maybe even wear a skirt or dress (SHOCKING!) every once in a while. Our society has become so casual. Let’s bring back the lovely, ladies! Let’s bring back ladylike!!
I absolutely love everything about this post and find it very encouraging!! It would be wonderful if you would speak more on this topic as it’s something that isn’t discussed enough these days.