I have been promising a modesty post for a very...very long time now. But every time I would sit down to type what I have been thinking and praying about, I would choke. Essentially I have been struggling with fear. Fear of what you all will think of me, fear that I will sound self righteous or condescending (most definitely not my intent), and even fear that I wouldn't be able to clearly communicate all that has been gerbiling around in my tiny brain these past few months. But I realized, just because this is a "hotter" topic than we normally post about, it's really no different than anything else I have written. It's just me, telling my story, the only way I know how.
I did not grow up in a household where I was given a strict dress code. I was homeschooled and probably dressed a lot like my mom. When I entered public high school I was afraid I would stick out like a sore thumb, instead I became invisible. I ached to look "cool", to stand out, and to be seen as some one special. I thought that if I could create a funky, creative, popular outer appearance then people would be drawn to me. This meant going to any lengths to wear whatever was "in style" no matter what that style was. It meant obsessing over every article of clothing, and trying on multiple outfits before going out, and it also meant never feeling content with who I was, or what I looked like. If you could have looked up insecurity in the dictionary my picture was probably there. As I grew older, got married, and had children I seemed to grow out of much of this, but I knew all the insecurities were still lurking somewhere just beneath the surface. Fast Forward several years to late last year.
Now I don't remember exactly (sometime last year) when the Lord first started laying the subject of modesty on my heart, but as He did I began to learn more about myself than modesty.
First - I was addicted/am to pants! This may sound ridiculous, but I did not like skirts, or dresses at all. I tolerated them on Sundays, but that was about it. I figured I could look and feel like a lady and not have to give up my pants. Now this may be true, but for me it was nothing but an unsubmissive heart in cute pair of jeans or painty scrubs (as was usually the case). So I decided to lay my pants and all other sloppy attire at His feet. I didn't want there to be anything (especially something silly like pants) between us. For those of you that know and see me regularly, I have worn pants a time or two since then. I'm just finding that I feel most feminine when I'm not wearing them. Needless to say, I'm still processing this one. I'll keep you posted.
Second- I am unbelievably stubborn! Okay this wasn't actually new news, but my stubbornness knows no bounds. This time it was in reference to the verse Roman 14:13. I took great offense to having to change the way I dressed because it might cause someone else to sin. (My brain doesn't always remember that I'm not a feminist.) So I struggled, internally, with this one for a long time. I made external changes, but resented the fact that I had to do it "because men couldn't control themselves". (Yuck - I know, just keepin' it real.) Then one day I started thinking, what is one thing I have a really hard time resisting? Answer - CHOCOLATE! I am capable, but it's soooo hard. Now, what if I saw a man, who is not my husband, walking down the street wearing an outfit that barely covered the fact that he was made entirely out of delicious, melty, creamy, oh so irresistible, dark chocolate. I would want to stop whatever I was doing, go over, and take a bit bite. Yes I know this scenario is just a little bit far fetched, but it really helped me understand a little bit more what our brothers in Christ are going through. And, yes, I have apologized to my husband for being such a baby on the topic.
Third and Last (for now) - Modesty isn't just about what you wear. Shocker. As we have heard in both previous posts Man looks at the outer appearance, but God looks at the heart. It's all about who/whom you are dressing for. You can be completely covered up, but still have an immodest heart. I found that I was dressing solely for other peoples approval. About 3 years ago all the insecurity that I had stuffed into the recesses of my brain basement resurfaced. I once again became crippled by what others thought of how I looked on the outside, as I neatly hid my insides. Thankfully this time I sought the Lord instead of cramming it all back down. Then He, graciously, even if not so gently, reminded me that I am to live for Him alone. I am eternally grateful for that lesson, even though the process was and continues to be brutal at times!
Fourth - Okay there isn't a fourth, but I know that this isn't all I have learned, or will learn on the subject. It is a going to be a continual process. I don't just want to make a bunch of arbitrary modesty rules and not have the heart to go along with them. I also don't want to dress like I belong on a street corner until I feel "convicted" to do otherwise. May be one day the lines will be a lot less blurry, but for now this list is posted on my fridge:
- What statement do my clothes make about my heart?
- In choosing what clothes to wear today, whose attention do I desire and whose approval do I crave? Am I seeking to please God or impress others?
- Is what I wear consistent with biblical values of modesty, self control and respectable apparel, or does my dress reveal an inordinate identification and fascination with sinful cultural values?
- Who am I trying to identify with through my dress? Is the Word of God my standard or is the latest fashion?
- Have I asked my husband or other godly individuals to evaluate my wardrobe?
- Does my clothing reveal an allegiance to the gospel or is there any contradiction between my profession of faith and my practice of godliness?
The original Modesty Heart Check can be found here.
So that's my journey in a nutshell. I feel like I could write several more posts on this topic, but I am going to refrain - you're welcome.