Sorry friends, this about a month later than I said it would be. Life with five littles happened, but here I am now. And I am excited to share where I have come from and where I am now in this journey. I want to share because I want you to know this isn’t something I have always been aware of. If there’s anything I’ve learned since trusting in Jesus to save me, it’s that I have to be humble, ready, and willing to have my mind renewed from what it once was. It is good to make changes in areas of our lives that do not fully reflect the heart of Christ. We may not (and probably don’t) see all at once every area of our lives that need to be changed. It may be something we have to slowly grow into. It may be strange or uncomfortable at first. But shedding off sin and giving more and more of ourselves to Christ is always worth it! There should not be any part of our lives that we withhold from him.
My Journey to Modesty
For many years I had NO concept of modesty…. even after becoming a Christian. I was saved at age 19. In those early years of my walk with the Lord when I was confronted with my immodesty I protested that pursuing modesty was legalistic. (I had no clue what legalism was, for the record, people who call obedience to God legalistic don’t know either). Truth be told, modest clothing didn’t appeal to me because I thought I would look frumpy and unattractive, and I didn’t really see a problem with my current clothing choices (they didn’t seem like sin to me). I didn’t want to look weird or ugly, and I wasn’t willing to even consider that changing the way I dressed was something the Lord desired for me. This is certainly not the way I would’ve articulated it back then, but it was what I can see in hind-sight was happening in my heart. Because of my aversion to modesty for myself I made assumptions about girls who talked about and pursued modesty; I believed their modest dress was just as much for attention as immodest dress; only it was that they wanted people to look at them and think “oh how modestly she dresses”. I thought it was prideful and assumed they had a “holier than thou” attitude. I reasoned that if it wasn’t for the praises of others or for self-righteous pride, that if they *really* felt it was Biblically necessary, then they didn’t understand Christian freedom. Turns out I was the one acting like a pharisee, judging the intentions of others’ hearts…. “thank God I’m not like those self-righteous modest girls!” (sound familiar?Luke 18:11) I shudder to think of my sinful heart back then, and I honestly had no clue. God is so patient and gracious with His children. He had saved me and He wasn’t about to let me stay where I was.
Another anti-modesty soap boxes I stood on back then:
I protested that men’s lust was their own problem, that they would lust no matter what women wore if it was in their hearts to lust. I thought dressing modestly to love my Christian brothers and assist in the effort to keep their hearts from lust was like saying they couldn’t help it and it was all the girls’ fault….. and I believed that line of logic lead to even more disturbing ideas; such as the woman being blamed if she was raped, and things of that nature. Maybe some modesty proponents think like that, but in reality I didn’t know any and was simply making a straw man up to build my case against the idea of Christian modesty.
If I’m really REALLY honest, it was all just a huge excuse to not give that part of my life up. I didn’t want to admit I was wrong for dressing the way I was dressing, and I didn’t want to change the way I dressed either. Truth be told, I liked my short dresses and shorts and bikinis and strapless & spaghetti strap tops. I looked cute in them (according to worldly standards). I turned heads. It fed my flesh and my pride. I liked it and didn’t see why I would have to give it up…. I wasn’t saved by works but by grace! (I had Ephesians 2:8 &9 down, just failed to read on to verse 10) “A short skirt wouldn’t make me unsaved”, I’d reason. And I didn’t want to admit the trouble dressing that way often lead me into. I was too stubborn to admit that it attracted the wrong type of guys with expectations that I knew very well were wrong. But again, that was ALL their fault, not mine.
It was very wrong thinking to say the least.
I had never been taught at my church or the college groups I attended that dressing immodestly was sin, so I had no real reason to give up the cute clothes I loved to wear. The conversation only came up every now and then with Christians I considered to be a little over the top, and so I never took them very seriously.
This stubborn mind-set went on for about six years after my conversion! (seems crazy I know, but as I said, the Lord was very patient and gracious with me! He would work in a perfect timing on my heart.) Eventually, some difficult circumstances in my marriage lead me to pursue the Lord much deeper than I had previously before. I began devouring sermons and the Word and spending much more time in prayer. The Lord was my only real joy during this time, and I wanted to be as close to Him as possible. His presence was the only place I could find joy. That was a good place for me to be, and I knew it! With all of this Biblical teaching and reading and prayer, my mind began to change about things, not just dress, but everything! It was unintentional, I didn’t set out to become a radically different person, but it happened when I began taking the Bible more seriously and reading it more earnestly. Life looked so different through the lens of Scripture! My mind was really being renewed, I no longer wanted to be conformed to the world. I didn’t know fully what that would look like, but things were shifting and the Lord was opening my eyes to see sinful ideas in my heart that I needed to turn from and sinful ways of life that I needed to quit walking in. I learned during this time that repentance wasn’t something the Christian does one time, it’s something the Christian walks in. We are constantly repenting of our sin and putting our minds, hearts, and bodies in subjection to Christ….. it’s just what Christians do. Christians aren’t perfect, but we are being made perfect! And by God’s grace we will be one day!
What happened next:
Shortly after this the Lord brought friends into my life who didn’t look like the world, including in the area of modest dress. Before I would’ve thought these people were too over the top, but now they were beautiful to me! They were never unkind or judgmental to me even-though I had not yet made the complete shift in my clothing choices, but their example and gentle exhortations were convicting and helpful for my growth in the Lord, especially in this particular area of my life. The Lord had already made my heart soft to the subject and I was ready to receive Biblical advice from others. It made me sad that I had never really been taught on it before. It made me sad that more ministers didn’t actually teach or preach about this common (seemingly acceptable) area of rebellion. I was sad that I had been so stubborn and unwilling to change. But at the same time I knew myself loved and forgiven by the Lord through the blood of Jesus; I was able to see how He faithfully pruned me and lead me in this journey. Sanctification is such a beautiful thing! The Lord used many people and situations to teach me the Scriptures regarding modesty and to show me the loveliness and beauty of modesty. It became overwhelmingly desirable for me to make a change in the way I had been dressing. So one day I went through my wardrobe and I pulled out everything that I (at the time) deemed as immodest. I tried to discern if I could layer it and make it modest, if so I kept it and if not then out it went. I put t-shirts under strapless and spaghetti strap dresses and tops. I tossed out my skirts, dresses, and shorts that didn’t come down to just above my knees. I tossed out my bikinis and purchased a few cute one pieces and swim skirts. I also purchased a few long skirts and long (tunic type) shirts to wear with skinny jeans. (I’m not trying to say my standards are what everyone is called to, but this was what the Lord had laid on my heart.)
Honestly, it was a bit of a difficult adjustment for me at first. My mind had been so conformed to the world, that it was hard for me to know what beauty and femininity really were. The first time I wore my one piece and swim skirt, I felt somewhat insecure…. it was SO different than my tiny little bikini that I was use to. I felt like people were staring at me (I’m sure it was totally in my head!). My body hadn’t changed at all, in fact I was the most fit I had ever been. Prior to my mind change on modesty, I believed a girl would wear a bikini up until the day she didn’t look good in one, then she’d move to a one piece, but here I was all covered up, but totally not insecure about the way my body looked. I was constantly having to remind myself of what was really true, and what wasn’t. In the beginning I also had to fight feelings of frumpiness. Sometimes I felt ugly in my modest clothes. I think this was two fold: one reason was because my mind was still being renewed to understand that tight fitting and skin showing didn’t equal beauty and the other reason was that I hadn’t yet learned how to be me and be modest. I thought I had to have the same style as other modest girls, and it took me a bit to learn how to have the style that reflected my personality and still be modest. It was definitely trial and error for a while. But it was definitely worth it! Even though I struggled to “like” the new look, I loved the freedom I had gained! Freedom from sin and worldliness, freedom to walk in obedience to the God I loved so dearly. It was a true victory God had won in my heart! And in time, I grew to see so much beauty in modest clothing. Now it is worldly immodest clothes that seem unbecoming to me.
5 quick reasons it was worth it to submit to God in this!
1. I was able to cast off sin and grow in obedience.
2. My walk with the Lord got sweeter because I was not withholding parts of myself from Him.
3. My husband felt more respected by me than he did before the change.
4. Other men and women respect me more than before the change.
5. I am able to teach my daughters by words and example how to worship the Lord with our clothing choices.
This is just my personal journey to dressing modestly. If modesty has been something you are considering, maybe you know you need to make a change and your heart is being drawn to honor the Lord more with your clothing choices. Pray about it, consider what your clothes say about you and the God you claim to serve. And then just do it! Get in your closet and make some changes. Do it out of love for the Savior who died for your sins. Do it seeking to obey the first and greatest commandment. (Matthew 22:37-39). Do it as an act of love.
I hope that gave you a little glimpse into why I’m passionate about modesty and why I’m doing these Modern Modesty posts. My hope is to help others see modest dress as beautiful too.
So how about one wintery look before winter has completely passed us by (not that I will be the least bit sad about that!)
I love to pair tunics with skinny jeans and boots! It’s one of my favorite looks!
top : rue 21 online
jeans : delias
boots : belk
blanket scarf : spoiled rotten (in Knoxville), a gift from my amazing mom
Psalm 16 bracelet : a gift from my sweet friend Jessica