What I wrote in the previous post on modesty is not always what I have believed in my heart. I thought that a post on My Modesty Journey would be a good follow-up.
So, here is an article I wrote a few months ago.
Have you ever struggled inside yourself, trying desperately to determine what things, especially clothes, were modest? I know I have, and let me tell you, it was no easy struggle; in fact, my struggle to determine what was modest took years – literally. I did not fight within myself all that time, but, many things influenced me between 11 and 16 years of age – so much so that right in the middle of those years I began to question if what I had always thought of modesty was true.
Here is a brief description of my struggle with modesty:
Around the time I was 12 I decided two things - that long skirts & dresses, high neck-lined shirts, and clothes that were not skin tight were the only modest things that I should wear & that I would never wear makeup. So I made a commitment to only wear those things, and out went all my jeans & capris. The only pants I continued to wear were workout pants (loose-fitting), and those where never worn when company was over nor went we went into town. This continued for about a year and a half, then I decided that I looked like a fool always wearing skirts (even camping), and started wearing jeans & capris camping and sometimes to other's houses. I did not know how this seed of wanting to “fit in” would affect me very soon.
When I was 14 we started going to a new congregation whose youth were mostly public schooled and had lower moral standards than my family had. Many teenage girls there (most I should say) wore makeup, skin tight clothes, low necked shirts, & short skirts. So most of the young people I saw were wearing things that went completely against my family's standards – and I was being influenced. (You can read my family's modesty standards AT THAT TIME at the bottom of This post.)
One day (I think I was 14) the elder brother of a friend of mine asked, me “ Why don't you ever wear pants? ” I was rather embarrassed, and I explained that I normally only wore pants at home. He asked the reasons, and I had none to give– none! Why? Because even though my parents had told me the reasons, I did not have the modesty standards that they did. (To my shame I did stutter out some lame response, and my younger brother took up my slack and answered for me! I couldn't answer from my heart - because my parent's standards weren't mine at that time.)
As the months passed, I grew more and more to accept most of the clothes that I saw the other girls in the congregation wear. When I went to clothing stores during this time I began to think that the clothes I would have considered borderline immodest at 12, were now okay – even “cute”. When I looked at the makeup isles I would covet being able to wear it.
At sixteen I asked for makeup – just lip gloss and light lip stick. I was allowed to and that led me to ask to wear eye shadow as well. My father was firm that as long as I lived in his house, I could not wear eye shadow & the only makeup I could wear were light lip gloss, light lip stick, and nail polish. At first, I was rebellious, because half of me wanted more than that and half of me didn't. I was confused, I felt like a war was waging inside me, and neither side was winning. Sometimes I would side with the Spirit inside me, and sometimes I would side with my flesh.
After talks with my mother – I felt better and resolved not to want to wear eye shadow and the like. Also my desire to wear lip gloss/stick, lessened. Now I wear make-up occasionally, and not for any reason except that I like it; I am not out to impress anybody – not in the least!
Back to clothing – at one point I even wanted halter tops., because I thought they looked “cute”. My parents were rather shocked and disgusted. My father explained how many young men think when they see girls in immodest apparel. Now it was my turn to be disgusted! I knew that young men thought differently but I didn't imagine all that my father told me! Further, my father said that he knew I wanted to serve the Lord wholeheartedly, and that he knew that I would never want to make a brother in Messiah stumble – and he is most definitely right! I was mortified to think of how by my dressing borderline immodest could play with young mens' minds so.
As young ladies following our Messiah, we should strive to dress in a way that helps, not hinders, the spiritual walks of our brothers in the Lord. I cannot help but be very ashamed that, on my own, I could have easily made the decision to dress borderline immodest just because I thought that the clothes looked “so cute”, and not even have stopped to think of what effects it could have had on my brothers in Messiah, or any young men for that matter! How thankful I am that my parents have helped me see “the light”!
Now, I do not just simply 'follow' my parent's principles of modesty – I have personal convictions of what is modest in my heart that I hold to, which line up with the convictions of my parent's. Each and every 'older' child must not simply 'tolerate' or 'follow because they have to' their parent's convictions (this applies to anything) – they must hold to those convictions (or rules if you call them such) in their heart, stand by, and defend them!
So, to sum up what I want to say – That though each and every family that is following Messiah will have slightly different opinion of what modesty looks like, what it really boils down to are these few points:
1 ~ As young ladies following Messiah, are we willing to dress immodestly at the expense of our dear brothers in the Lord? Willing to fulfill our pleasures to dress in “cute” clothes, and let young men have a greater reason to have sinful thoughts? They get enough bombardment in that area from the world. I beseech you young ladies to live virtuously, and think carefully about this.
2 ~ Do we really want to draw attention to ourselves with makeup and more, shall I say, reveling clothes when our goal is to reflect our Messiah? Does dressing immodestly glorify Messiah at all? Not if we dress in a way that can more easily supply the means for young men to stumble.
3 ~ God wants us to be pure vessels for Him, to be “peculiar people”. Are we presenting ourselves as pure, peculiar young ladies for Him if we dress as the worldly young ladies do? I would venture to say no. Even further I would venture to say that by dressing borderline immodest, we are partially destroying our testimony that we live for the Lord – because the way we dress speaks volumes. It goes back to the old saying: “Actions speak louder than words.”
In conclusion, I must add this – I do not share this to make others feel bad or to put myself on a pedestal, no, I share this because I have struggled, and know that others struggle in this area as well. I know that the Lord wants us to glorify Him, and I do not see how we can if we dress in a way that helps young men stumble more easily.
Thank you for reading today! I hope I have encouraged you in some way! My our Father bless you as you seek to glorify Him in all you do!
Thanks for bearing with me through this rather long post!
Thanks for bearing with me through this rather long post!
Query of the Day:
Have you ever struggled in the area of modesty? Ever fought within yourself to determine what really was modest?
I would love to hear from you!
*** IMPORTANT EDITS***
After writing this article, my modesty journey has deepened (praise HaShem!) and the Lord led me to ride myself of all pants.
He has led me to dress even more modestly than even I could have imagined at the time I wrote this article originally! Praise His wonderful Name!
See my Q&A section for my reasons.