“But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself…” Psalm 4:3a (KJV)
What does it look like to be “set apart”? To not look like the rest of the world?
There are plenty of Bible verses that tell us what it looks like to be “set apart”… to not be conformed to the world, to show love and kindness to others, to work hard, to take care of the good things God has given us, to be thankful for our lives, to not gossip, to not be gluttonous, to show hospitality to all people, but also, not waste our time on foolish things or foolish people. Today, I would like to share a book that paints a picture of how all these things can be a little more practical for us to live out.
It will be a surprise to you. You would never think of finding Biblical principles in a book written about the French, but I have read other books on how the French live, and somehow I find, whether Christian or not, in many respects they live out the Biblical life better than a lot of “Christians” in America do.
Jennifer L. Scott lived in Paris as an exchange student in her early 20’s and wrote this very inspiring book that teaches how to improve the quality of your life based on lessons she learned from her host. The most interesting take away for me from the whole book is that “Madame Chic” and her husband have remained true to living a way of life that my own parents lived in the 1950’s and on until this day. It is a lifestyle that has been lost.
The lifestyle that I am talking about and that is written about in the book, is one that demonstrates the following character traits. There is a certain air and flair to living this way… “set apart”. This is the breakdown of what this lifestyle looks like.
You get up each day at a regular time after you have slept a healthy amount of hours in clothes meant to wear to bed, pajamas or gowns. Before you come to breakfast, you are dressed and presentable for anyone that would see you. Your hair is styled, you have on natural looking makeup and are well groomed.
Your choice of clothes for the day are simplified, because in your closet, you have only good quality clothing that fits you perfectly… since you have taken the time to shop wisely, you know your body, and what looks good on you.
You eat breakfast and go to work, or begin the work that is part of your life. Your other meals are taken at regular times… every day… no exceptions and no snacks. These meals are good quality meats, fruits, vegetables, cheeses, breads and desserts (many made of fruits). They are served on nice plates and are eaten only at the table with no distractions, other than talking to the family members or friends that have joined you. You enjoy and are thankful for these good foods, for the work you have been given to do, and stay in the moment, when eating or working.
“Madame Chic” gives us practical wisdom in the formality of everyday life. She wears a simple wardrobe, very feminine, usually skirts and blouses. When cleaning her home and cooking, she wears an apron to cover her clothes and keep them in pristine condition. Her husband dresses in suits for work. They do not wear nice clothes in public and then change to “ratty” clothes when they get home, as so many of us are prone to do. They always look presentable and ready to go out at a moments notice.
She and her husband are given to hospitality and have dinner parties many nights during the week. Watching very little TV, but being well read and up to date on news worthy items to discuss with the many guests they entertain is important to them. They value people more than things, and put guests first, making sure they are comfortable and have everything they need for a fun, relaxed evening.
There is very little gossip that goes on in this culture… more of a sharing of the latest book read, or music and cultural events.
To follow this lifestyle, it is very important to be financially wise, to not spend money you don’t have, to appreciate and take care of what you do have, and to not want the latest “gadgets” but to enjoy the process, and being in the moment, when working with what you own.
You can manage weight and be free of gluttonous eating, by following the examples of eating great food, at regular times, in calm settings, and not snacking in between meals. There is not a propensity to do rigorous workout routines, but to get exercise in the normal aspects of daily living… walking, cleaning, cooking, gardening.
This way of living demonstrates a return to earlier times in America when manners, quality in life, loving and being respectful to others, ruled the day. Maybe it’s time to let the “Lessons from Madame Chic” help us go back to a better, more Biblically based, way of life and be “set apart.”