The Charming "First Lady"

Talk given to the Evangelines at Columbia Union College, March 18, 1963.

ESTHER NIXON ATCHLEY, Minister's Wife, Washington, D.

The second part of the "social, emotional you" that is so im­portant is your DRESSING HABITS. This has a lot to do with your self-confidence, too. You know, when you look nice, your confidence is stronger and your personality much better. Ellen G. White has so many things to say about proper dressing habits, and I will quote her words instead of using my own:

Follow the customs in dress so far as they con­form to health principles. Let our sisters dress plainly, as many do, having the dress of good, durable material, appropriate for this age, and let not the dress question fill the mind.—Child Guid­ance, p. 414.

Christians should not take pains to make them­selves a gazingstock by dressing differently from the world.—Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 458.

Dress neatly and becomingly, but do not make yourself the subject of remarks either by being over­dressed or by dressing in a lax, untidy manner.—Child Guidance, p. 415.

Those who are careless and untidy in dress are seldom elevated in their conversation, and possess but little refinement of feeling. They sometimes consider oddity and coarseness humility.—Review and Herald, Jan. 30, 1900.

Simplicity of dress will make a sensible woman appear to the best advantage.—Ibid., Nov. 17, 1904.

We really should not have any trouble living up to these instructions today, for our modern styles are simple and certainly not unhealthful. It is quite easy to dress neatly and becomingly. The hair is so important too. And I think the same principles should apply here. Without being extreme, it is in good taste to keep our hairstyles somewhat up to date, and becoming—a beautiful frame for a smiling face. It is also important to know what is proper to wear, and when, particularly with shoes and gloves.

As "first lady," you will often be visiting in the homes of the wealthy. At times you will go out to dinner, or to events with such people, and you do not want to seem ill-informed or careless. Nor do you want to try to dress as expensively as they might, but in as good taste.

The third part of the "social, emotional you," I believe, is your PERSONALITY, which is closely tied into your feelings of self-confidence.

I feel that too many people accept feelings of shyness, withdrawal, and fear as their natural personality, without realizing that perhaps ex­periences of childhood might have forced these feelings on them. Indeed, they do not have to keep this personality all their lives, but with understanding and God's help they may emerge, and find a new, thrilling existence, and surely a much more useful and fruitful life. Remember the verse in the Bible that says, "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might" (Eccl. 9:10). To me, this means "entering into, becoming part of, getting involved with."

Enthusiasm is a delightful part of a charming personality. In the book Education, Ellen G. White gives the following illustration of en­thusiasm:

On this point there is a useful suggestion in a remark once made by a celebrated actor. The arch­bishop of Canterbury had put to him the question why actors in a play affect their audiences so powerfully by speaking of things imaginary, while ministers of the gospel often affect theirs so little by speaking of things real. "With due submission to your grace," replied the actor, "permit me to say that the reason is plain: It lies in the power of enthusiasm. We on the stage speak of things imagi­nary as if they were real, and you in the pulpit speak of things real as if they were imaginary."—Education, p. 233.

The joy we can know in Christ, the freedom from doubts and fears, the faith that guides our lives, should promote real enthusiasm, a happy twinkle in our eyes, and a smile for everyone.

Courtesy is a big part of personality.

The value of courtesy is too little appreciated. Many who are kind at heart lack kindliness of manner. Many who command respect by their sin­cerity and uprightness are sadly deficient in genial­ity. This lack mars their own happiness, and de­tracts from their service to others. Many of life's sweetest and most helpful experiences are, often for mere want of thought, sacrificed by the un­courteous. . . .

All the real tenderness and courtesy in the world, even among those who do not acknowledge His name, is from Him. And He desires these character­istics to be perfectly reflected in His children. It is His purpose that in us men shall behold His beauty. —Ibid., p. 242.

The fourth and last part of our social and emotional nature that I want to mention, is our RELIGIOUS LIFE. It is definitely connected to all the others. Indeed, without this part, all the others would be of no avail, and we would not even come close to being successful in at­taining anything worthwhile. I believe our motto in religion should be, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt. 6:33).

As "first lady" in our church, we will often have to talk of spiritual things. These things must be real to us from our own experience and understanding. If we will set aside a certain time each day, a time for reading, prayer, and medi­tation, we will discover that walking with the King is our daily joy and to talk of Him a most natural experience. Perhaps to a busy wife and mother, reading the Conflict of the Ages Series will be the most rewarding. Here, with the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, we are not simply reading of events that happened or religious exhortations, but we are seeing how God works for mankind down through the ages. And, as we go back to our work from these "communings" we will find our mind open to the mighty Teacher as He gives us suggestions and impressions on how to do better work, how to talk better, and indeed how to live better.

As we look forward to being the "first lady" wherever our husband is called, let us do it with the determination that we will seek God first, and with His help, be the loving and lov­able Christian "first lady" He wants each one of us to be.


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ESTHER NIXON ATCHLEY, Minister's Wife, Washington, D.

December 1963

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