I remember when I was in Bible college, back in the late ’90s we had all returned from mid year break and a number of girls had come back with earrings in the top of the ears. mothing worng with that in itself except that the Bible College I attended was pretty strict in their dress code and this new addition was something all we single girls were interested in watching play out with the leadership of the college.
It wasn’t actually an issue with the earrings but there was general intrigue and curiosity with how the dean of women would deal with it. Most of the girls who had got these extra ear piercings were 1st years and for some reason I was asked to be there. When these girls were asked to come to the office, I felt like I was back at school. Not only was I about to watch this unfold but I knew that anyone who had a beef with the outcome would end up giving me grief for being a part of it. What surprised and impressed me was the way in which the dean of women handled it. Each girl was asked to come in on their own to meet with her and not a lot was said but she did ask each of the girls to take out the earrings and wait outside in the hall. She did ensure certain questions were asked and each girl was given a fair hearing as to why they should be aloud to keep them. As You can imagine, there were a mixture of attitudes with this instruction. Some were happy to do so and others were not so. None of them were game to be be too outspoken as there was a healthy fear when it came to this lady. However, you could certainly tell which girls were going to go out of that room and whinge and complain and challenge the decision and which would simply comply and let it go.
What impressed me more was what the dean of women said to me when the girls had left. She said something to this effect and her thoughts have come back to me over the years both in my role as a pastor, but also as an observer of people and even as a mum. “Jenny, today has nothing to do with the rules about dress and in fact I couldn’t give a rip about how many earings these girls wear. What I was looking for today was an attitude. The girls who simply took out the earrings and were sweet about it proved by their attitude that their decision to get their ears pierced was simply a decision based on fashion. The girls who got angry and upset did this to defy the rules and defy my leadership. Their motive was tested today and found wanting. The ones who responded to my directives with a pure heart can have their earrings back and can have the extra piercings. The others can’t and, although I can enforce the rules on the outside there’s little I can do with their heart. That is something the Holy Spirit is going to have to work on and if they don’t let him deal with it in this environment, it is going to be a long hard road ahead‘.
She was so discerning and so loving and nurturing at the same time. As the girls gathered in front of her desks, some were given their earrings back and allowed to wear them. Others weren’t and went out whining and complaining about how unfair and unjust life at college was. I learnt a lot that day. Were those who were allowed to keep their earrings her favorites? Were they favoured over the other? I saw more than discerning leadership that day. I also saw but how easy it is to make a simple decision about something as simple as a fashion choice become a tool for the enemy to distract us from our purpose and what really matters. It can happen to any of us at any time. the enemy is seeking who he may devour…are your devourable???