“Modesty is anything that draws undue attention to oneself.” –Harvey
Oh how those words have served me over the years. Dressing fashionably and modestly at the same time isn’t easy. And though I love to decorate and can be a little “artsy” I find the “art” of clothing difficult. Because of this, I have often defaulted to what is plain, simple, and (to be honest) really boring. In my teens, I was so concerned that I would wear things that were too tight and draw too much attention to myself, that I swung the pendulum very far…in the opposite direction. Over sized t-shirts were my fashion statement. I was far too concerned with not looking “worldly”. To be honest, my views of worldliness were incorrect. Instead of trusting God to help me and keep me from sinning, I took it upon myself to guard my heart and clothing. I then realized that I was wrong. And there was nothing wrong with dressing trendy (I’m still trying to figure out why I thought there was.). There can be a distinct difference between Trendy and Wordly. But, then I had another problem. I had no clue how to shop for clothes. I had no clue what to look for. Default became simple, simple, simple. Now, I’m not saying that simple is bad! I still LOVE wearing t-shirts! Simple can actually look really cool and classy. I’m talking about blue Polo Shirt with hardly no jewelry or extra color simple. I was simply clueless. I tried for years and made some progress, but it wasn’t until God brought a dear friend of mine to me, that my fashion sense began to grow. She had/has a knack for taking simple things and making them look awesome. Modesty, style, and not spending an exhorbant amount of money where her specialty. As God continued to work in my life, Em kept patiently serving me.
I’m not saying that you should always look like you stepped out of the mall!!! I’m not saying that t-shirts, polo shirts, or simple things are terrible! I’m not saying you always have to wear jewelry! If you could see pictures of me, you’d understand what was going on. I dressed like a frump. I did not care what anyone thought of me and honestly, I didn’t care what I looked like…at all. It wasn’t a healthy lack of the fear of man, it was simply laziness. I didn’t care and made no effort to care. The clothes were not the issue. The clothes simply revealed what was going on in my heart. Like I’ve said in previous posts in this series, what you wear is tied down to where your heart is. In those days, my heart wasn’t where it should have been.
And that is where the quote above has been so helpful. You can take someone that dresses like a “woman of the night” and a girl that is frumpy and unkept. Place them in a room with a lot of people. As people pass them, they’ll both get a lot of stares. Both of those young ladies would be drawing a lot of attention to themselves. And I know this is bold, but I think that both of those women could be sinning. For sure, they are both dressing immodestly. You’re probably asking me how the frumpy girl in the oversized t-shirt and baggy sweats could possibly be immodest. All of her body is clothed. Nothing is too tight. I would suggest, that she’s dressing immodestly because she is drawing undue attention to herself. People are not seeing the Savior, they are staring at her unkept, “different from everyone else” attire.
Please don’t hear what I’m not saying. I own baggy sweats and t-shirts. I’m NOT advocating that everyone should shop at Gap, wear make-up, and always dress like they’re going out to dinner! Not at all! I want to be clear, the importance is not the label on your clothes or how slimming a pair of pants is. The importance is WHAT DOES YOUR CLOTHES SAY ABOUT YOUR HEART! Every person is different. Every person will have a slightly different struggle. But, sin is sin. And I would guess that lurking somewhere in your heart, something is motivating you (like it does me every day of my life) to dress the way you dress. It could be good, godly motives; sinful motives; or a mixture of both!
But, back to dressing immodestly. I will never be cool. No matter how hard I try, I’ll never be in the “in crowd”. (Which I’m perfectly fine and happy not to be in.) I’ll never look like a super model. I’ll never be wearing the most trendy clothes on the market. Not, that any of those things are wrong in and of themselves, but you won’t find them on me. Not because I think they’re wrong, but because most of the times they don’t fit “me” and my personality, they’re too expensive for my wallet, or because God has created my body in such a way where I simply can’t pull those fashions off. However, I do try to blend in. I do try to dress in the times AND fit my personality. It takes effort for me to shop and come up with “outfits”. There are days when I wish I was Mary Poppins and could snap my fingers and I’d be dressed. :) But, I want to put the work in. Why? Because when people look at me, I don’t want my clothing to be what stands out. I don’t want people to be distracted by what I wear (whether it’s too tight or too frumpy). When people look at me, I want them to see Jesus. I want them to see a normal (haha) woman who loves her Savior. I want Jesus to be most important in my life. I want Him to shine forth.
Here are some thoughts. These aren’t from the Bible. They aren’t anything authoritative. They are simply out of my head. They’re some of the questions and statements that I use as I’m searching my heart. My tendency isn’t towards vanity (though I do struggle with it), it is towards laziness and selfishly not caring. Not everyone struggles in these ways, but if you do, I hope this challenges you and gives you hope in Christ to change.
- Why do I like this particular article of clothing? Is it because it’s safe (i.e. boring)? Is it because it’s easy? Am I succumbing to my tendency towards laziness?
- Why have I chosen to not wear, put on, etc., today? Am I being lazy? Do I need to put my self to death and work at what I do not want to do? Am I tired or don’t feel good (which are genuine, good reasons, btw.)? Or am I just taking the easy road out?
- What does my appearance reveal about my heart? Fear? Lack of trust in God? Laziness? Selfishness? Desire for control? Desire to hide? Desire for ease?
Again, everyone is different. In my own life I have found that I have hidden behind what is safe. I don’t want to be vain, I don’t want to be immodest, I don’t want to cause guys to stumble. Instead of trusting God, asking Him for help, and doing the work of finding that balance; I decided to take matters into my own hands. I’d play it safe. Like the Pharisees, I built 20 additional fences around the law. What modesty should be and what I made it to be, where two totally different things. God has revealed much fear, self-sufficiency, and idolatry in my heart. And He has used the way I dress as one of the ways to reveal those sins. The clothes I wore wasn’t the problem, it was the heart motivation behind it.
Where do you find yourself?