by Rachel Lee Carter
My senior year of high school, when most girls are preparing to launch in to college, I was shuttling back and forth from my home in North Carolina to New York City to model for magazines.
I had grown up going to church but never truly accepted Christ as Lord. Sure, I walked an aisle and was baptized, but I spent my life managing to fit God in when and where I wanted Him. In high school, I spent more time trying to blend in to my friends’ world than I did trying to stand out. I swore like they did. I laughed at and even told obscene jokes. I harassed unpopular kids. I had conflicts with other girls. I gossiped, lied, and cheated occasionally on my homework—schoolwork wasn’t as much of a priority as cheerleading was. I almost always had a steady boyfriend, and often my identity was wrapped up in him and our impure relationship. Like most people I knew, I went to church. But I juggled being “Christian” on Sunday or at youth camp and disregarding the things of God the rest of the week.
After graduating, I moved to New York in hopes of “making it big.” I was eighteen and had an apartment in Queens with three other girls. Eventually, out of pride, I convinced myself that I didn’t need to be in Queens but in Manhattan where real models live.
At first I thought I was living a life of freedom—doing anything I wished without having to report my activities to anyone or without having to ask permission to do anything I wanted to do. I had my own downtown apartment in New York City; and I was mingling with celebrities and going to parties and prime time sporting events.
I thought I had the world by the tail, but it had me. I was full of pride. I was going places I shouldn’t have been going, doing things I shouldn’t have been doing, with people I shouldn’t have been with. My language was filthy, my wardrobe was degrading, my music was ungodly, and my relationships were toxic.
Everything on the outside looked fine, but on the inside I was miserable and empty. In the still of the night, my heart ached for a relationship with the Jesus that I learned about as a child. I remembered half-heartedly making a decision to follow Jesus years before, but of course, my choices did not reflect that I was born again.
Although I would not admit it at the time, God’s love for me poured out as He intervened and began taking things out of my life that were separating me from Him. I started gaining weight, my skin began to break out, bookings were few and far between, and my bank account began to dry up.
Refusing to let God have His way, I went to work at a bar to make ends meet. Bulimia and exercise became routine. But God wasn’t finished. He wasn’t going to leave me where I was.
On a rare booking, I met two Christian models who shared similar stories of running from or questioning God. Their transparency comforted me. They encouraged me to confess my doubts to God and tell Him I was searching for truth. I ached for what they had.
Desperate for more, I went to a popular Bible-believing church to get counsel from a pastor. As I confessed everything to him, he steered me back to Scripture with nurturing words. Just as the two models had, he urged me to get honest with God.
It took me getting honest with myself before I was able to get honest with God. I came to the place where I realized that I didn’t deserve God’s favor or His heaven. I read John 3 and Romans 6:23 over and over. I was a sinner and a hypocrite. But it was the best realization I could have had—after all, a person can’t be found if he doesn’t know he is lost. So, as a broken, humbled nineteen-year-old, I prayed to receive this gift of God—to be born again—and He changed the course of my life forever.
My life as a professional model had new purpose: My industry became my ministry. I shared Christ on castings and bookings with models, make-up artists and photographers. Many seeds were planted and some received Jesus as Savior. Feeling God tug on my heart about leaving the business to attend Bible college, I obeyed, expecting never to re-enter the field of fashion again.
The Bible says in Isaiah 55:9, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” I know this is true because I never expected Him to call me back into the industry.
I’ve been modeling professionally now for more than 20 years. God has used this business to teach me truths from His Word and has given me a platform to share these truths all over the world—in and out of the fashion industry.
In my book, Fashioned by Faith—An international model uncovers the truth about modesty and style, I share some of these God-moments that changed my life.
Biblical insights on modesty, inner beauty, health and reputation will pour from the perspectives of Christian guys, God’s Word, and unbelievably—from the world of fashion!
I look forward to sharing more with you on this topic of faith and fashion in the months to come. Until then, may you continue to model Christ.
See you again next month.
Rachel Lee Carter is an international professional model who has worked for clients such as Cover Girl, Tommy Hilfiger, Reebok, Jones New York, Fitness Magazine, Perry Ellis, Chico’s, Nicole Miller, DKNY, and many others. In 1996, she graduated Dean’s honor from the Word of Life Bible Institute in Schroon Lake, NY, where she studied systematic theology and Bible survey with an emphasis on missions and youth ministry.
Rachel is the President of Modeling Christ; www.ModelingChrist.com where she has developed a successful speaking career while ministering at various women’s and youth conferences nationwide. Her latest book, Fashioned by Faith (Thomas Nelson), will be available in bookstores May 3, 2011.