I asked my husband Sean to write something on modesty for our series. I had no idea that he was going to write about me, and his experience of learning about the concept of dressing modestly! Mingled in the story is a little bit of how we met! He will finish up this post next Wednesday.
Sean and I about to go on a date!
Let me start by saying that I feel, somehow, honored to have been invited by the Modest Mom (Caroline to me) to guest post on her blog. I also have some sensation in the pit of my stomach akin to a feeling I get when I accompany my wife to a midwife appointment; something like, "You are welcome here, though you have the right to remain silent..." or "You're not from around these parts, are you?" I'll try to post confidently, after all, Caroline, I mean, the Modest Mom officially requested that I do this.
I wanted to rehearse for you how I first became acquainted with the principle of modesty, how it radically altered my perspective concerning women in general, and how it has continued to shape my interaction with them.
To be brief, my first exposure to modesty (not sure those two words are comfortable in the same sentence) was upon seeing my future wife and her sister sitting across the room at a scripture study at college. I was 20 years old and I believe I can honestly say that the issue of modesty had never crossed my mind - ever. I hadn't, up to that moment, paused to consider if there was a right and a wrong when it came to dress, much less the behavior which endues our appearance with a particular spirit. So, there they were, meekly seated across the room from me, completely separate in their attire from every other young lady in the room, very nearly glowing in their probity, and I had the thought come to me, "Those girls are just plain WEIRD."
Perhaps not the epiphany you were expecting. Something significant, though, had happened to me, something which set the stage for the cluster of revelations which were to come regarding this issue - I had actually seen modesty, and everything it implies, with my own eyes. Strange as it was to my carnal mind at the time, it was undeniable in its distinctiveness - that is, there were definite, purposeful motivations driving the young ladies to dress as they did, and in the nearly abandoned, certainly neglected center of my heart, I knew it. It would take me another year or so to acknowledge this and summon the courage to ask at least one of the young ladies - WHY?
If I shared all of what transpired on this little journey of my mine, it would make for lengthy reading. Suffice it to say that only God could have arranged matters in such a way that a year later, I found myself the head of a small group study with a certain young lady assigned as one of my "students." I expect it is rare when a teacher learns more from his student than she from him, but such was my experience over the course of the next few months. I am not ashamed to admit this, but I sat at my future wife's feet that semester and was schooled in the ways purity. She never would have done this had I not been so inquisitive. By this time, the thought in my heart concerning her appearance had greatly matured from "strange" to "I absolutely must know why this lovely young lady dresses, no, more than dresses, IS the way she is! What scriptural exegetic is she tapping that drives her to live thus?!" I was transfixed by her "way of life" and I absolutely had to get to the "why" and "what for" behind it. Her answer came with a gentle and quiet confidence, "It's really quite simple..."
And it is, and always will be.
You see, as I scheduled a curious number of group "discussions" that semester, I took the opportunity to probe Caroline concerning the decisions she had made concerning her walk with God. Nearly all of her decisions could be viewed as accessory to her decision for modesty. In other words, her decision for modesty governed her decisions in many other areas of Christian import. Having said that, modesty itself is an appendage to femininity and femininity to godliness. Caroline never came right out and said this, (would never have even thought it) but what I kept hearing throughout our discussions was, "I am a woman, made in the image of God, and if you were a true man of God, you would treat me, with all dignity and honor, according to the rights and privileges afforded to me by my Creator." This was completely new to me. I just thought that, well, I'm not sure what I thought about women. With a few notable exceptions (my mother, grandmother, precious few church women) seeing women aspire to and attain unto every role men traditionally displaced was all that I had ever known. Even most of the dwindling number of housewives in my experience looked and acted like feminine men with slightly longer hair. Yet here I was was talking with a woman who hadn't the slightest desire to look, act, or compete with, me. And bless God, it affected her appearance (for the better I might say ; ). Now, hear me, I have no desire to disparage any of the other young ladies that I attended the scripture study with for I believed, and still believe them to be sincere in their devotion to Christ and they blessed me in many ways. When I think of my wife, however, in chastity, virtue, and yes, modesty, my heart can only borrow the words of King Lemuel's mother, "...but thou excellest them all." It was on account of these undeniable qualities which my eventual wife exhibited that completely captivated my heart, and I, with much trembling, resolved to win her.
It proved only to be the beginning.
To be continued....
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