My Journey to Modesty

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.

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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!)

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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

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,Stacey

Modern Modesty

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Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. -1 Corinthians 10:31

I’m super excited to introduce something new I’m staring here at Abiding Woman.

Modern Modesty

In a nutshell, these will be modest fashion posts to inspire the modern woman to dress to the glory of God.

Why modesty?

I’m passionate about modesty, partially because I think it’s greatly untaught about in many Christian circles: perhaps for fear of offending people, or legalism, or both, but it just seems to be a taboo subject for many. But the thing is, we need to be taught about this! It is important.  I’m also passionate about it because of my own personal journey leading me to care about modesty which I will be posting next week.

Why modern?

As I’ve pursued modesty, I have learned that it is very possible to dress in modern clothing and be modest. BUT (and to be clear, this is a huge “but”) ultimately if being modest meant that we had to wear old fashioned clothes, I would be completely content to do that. Now I want to be careful here, I have grown to see a beauty in older styles of clothing, and many women and their husbands love that look! I think it is quite lovely too, it just my first preference for myself.  I have found that I enjoy dressing modestly with affordable clothes that are currently in fashion. It may not always be this way, but for now clothes that are currently sold in stores like Target, Old Navy, local boutiques, and more can absolutely be worn in a modest way. You just have to be intentional about it. You can’t always (or often) wear it like it’s advertised on the models. Take the style you love and layer it so that you can enjoy your clothing and be modest. That is what “modern modesty” is about on this blog. I have a deep desire to teach the why of modesty with Scripture and to demonstrate the how of modern modesty with “modest fashion posts”.

Now let’s get one thing straight

I am not a model. I’m 5 feet even and a mom of 5 (and hoping for more kiddos one day). My size and weight change often, and I am having a really productive day if I find time for a shower and makeup. So I am nowhere close to being a model, and I’m good with that!

But here’s the thing I’m not going to let that stop what I’m trying to do here. I’m passionate about helping women see that modest dressing can be beautiful, stylish, and even demonstrating that our creativity and care we put into our clothing choices can cause people to delight in the Lord.

How this will work.

I will share a few photos of my outfit and I’ll share where I bought the items I’m wearing. Not necessarily so you can go and buy the exact thing, because it’s likely that most of it won’t still be available, but instead so that you can see “how” I piece modern modest outfits together. I have some old posts (here and here, back when I was pregnant) where I did this sort of thing, but I had not yet caught the vision for “Modern Modesty” fully. I went back and re-labeled them as “Modern Modesty” because my heart for it was there, just not the full workings of the idea. So this isn’t the first time you’ve seen this type of post with me, but it is the first official Modern Modesty post.

Styles and Standards:

I know that we all have different styles. I’m not sharing these to say my style is the best. You may not even like my style for yourself. These styles are just what I like and what I wear. I tend to be drawn to slightly bohemian styles. You probably have your own style preferences, but that doesn’t mean these posts still can’t be helpful. I want to encourage women to find the styles they like and to wear them in modest ways. I love how God made us all different, and I love to delight in the different styles of my friends. Some are more classic, others casual, others sporty, and others vintage. I love the variety! Christian women don’t all have to dress the same! :) And I really believe we can dress with our own style preferences in a modest way.

Furthermore, we will likely have different opinions about modesty, my standards are just that…. my standards, granted, I have come to my standards through the Scripture and through what I consider to be sound teaching on the subject. Aside from this so many things have shaped my personal standards, and I’m sure the same is true for you. I realize others may have a different take, even on the exact same Scriptures. I always want to be careful that I’m not adding to the Scripture in any way. I look forward to posting on what the Scripture says about the way we ought to dress and even sharing my standards eventually, but even still I will share them as my personal standards and nothing more.  My standards may change or shift as I grow in my understanding of the Scriptures. I want to be ever-learning and ever-growing…. don’t you? So changes and humility are par for the course in the Christian life in all areas, even in the way we dress.

Finally, with this introduction to what modern modesty is about we’ll kick this thing off in one of my favorite dresses.

So here we go….

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dress : Rue 21 (online, I always shop their store online because call me crazy if you want to, they have some ridiculous music in their store that I can’t stand, so there’s that.)
scarf : Rue 21 (online)
belt : Target
leggings : probably Target ;)
boots : Belk (watch for the boots to go on sale soon, usually March or April you can get them for super cheap ((like 75% off)), that’s how I got these.)

A few reasons why this dress is one of my favorites. First of all, it’s cotton and feels as comfy as pajamas! Secondly, it’s black and white and pretty much goes with every accessory I own. Third, it’s knee length and flowy. I love the style and shape of it!

So that was the first official Modern Modesty post.

Ultimately, I hope these will be an overarching encouragement towards your pursuit of modest dressing, whatever that looks like in your current stage of your Christian walk, take a step… evaluate your clothing, be intentional to love God and others with the way you dress. And while you do, give grace to others in the process. We are all learning here.

Hope everyone has a great week!
Abiding in Christ,
-Stacey

PS These will NOT normally be this long.

linked up with The Modest Mom Blog