Wednesday, May 18, 2011

She Wears Skirts-Learning To Dress Modestly

Today I'm in bed trying to recover from a nasty bout of strep throat. :( I just don't have the energy to write a post for this week's series of She Wears Skirts, so I pulled an article from the archive. Many of my newer readers have probably never read this. This post is written by my sister, Jennifer. I appreciate her thoughts, as she is honest with the struggles that went on in her heart as she wrestled with dressing modestly.

What does it mean to dress modestly? As a teenager I was made aware of a desire in some Christian circles to return to the modest dress. Modesty means different things to different people. There are those who feel certain colors are okay to wear but others are not being considered too flashy. Some only wears skirts and jumpers at all times, while other ladies feel they can wear shorts, jeans, and swimming suits. In the midst of all this can come a judgment in the hearts of women looking at each other. “Can you believe so and so showed up in jeans today?” “How legalistic to think you shouldn’t wear shorts on a hot day like today!”

I have seen this backbiting and hardness of hearts and it’s not pretty. My own heart needs to be submitted to the love of Christ in this matter as it says in Galations 5:“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another…” Our prayer for each other should be that God would give each of us a modest heart. If we have a heart that desires modesty this will be reflected in the outward appearance of our clothing and in the spirit that we carry with us. Someone won’t have to stand over us with a list of do’s and don’ts.

From personal experience I can share the workings of God upon my heart. As a little girl and teenager I was considered a tomboy. I wasn’t some rough and tumble little girl, but I enjoyed playing with boys more than girls. I didn’t like playing dolls all morning long. I wanted to be out riding my bike, playing soccer, or touch football with the boys on my street. After moving to the country I learned to enjoy our huge trampoline, horseback riding, climbing trees, hiking, and caring for our animals. Through this all I wore shorts or jeans exclusively. I couldn’t stand to wear a dress. My parents made me wear a dress to church but as soon as church was over I would change back into my jeans.

As I moved into my teen years I kept this up. I noticed other girls started to dress in certain ways and heard them talking about trying to attract some guy’s attention. I wasn’t interested in such behavior. I just wanted my clothes to be clean and comfortable. Otherwise, I didn’t think much about it. As for modesty itself, I didn’t consider myself immodest at all. My parents were pretty strict about how long my shorts had to be, no tight tank tops, and so on. In the youth group I was in for a short time the other girls were feeling sorry for me because I had to dress so conservatively. My parents wouldn’t let me wear my Sunday dress above my knees. Poor Jennifer!

When I was 16 my Mom came across writing about modesty and came to believe it was best for my younger sister and I to wear dresses and skirts for everyday life. The issue of modesty really struck a cord with my Mom. Before she became a Christian she spent her youth wearing clothes to gain the attention of the men around her. She knew first hand how important it was in God’s plan to dress in such a way that you do not cause your brother to stumble, let alone trying to make him stumble on purpose!

As I was asked to wear the dresses and skirts I was horrified. Give up my jeans? No way would this work! We lived next to a horse farm at the time and I would go into the stalls, climb up to the top of the stalls, and walk on top of the stall edges to the end of the barn. Do that in a dress? I listened to my Mom and changed my clothing selections but inwardly my heart was stewing. I was mad and feeling rebellious. This nonsense would end someday!

In the next few months I decided to pray about this whole modesty and clothing thing. Surely God would be fair to me! What did he expect of me? I started looking for scriptures about clothing and modesty. I began in Genesis with Adam and Eve sinning and realizing they were naked. They sewed fig leaves together to make aprons for themselves. I thought, “just like all the pictures I have seen in our Bible story books.” Several verses later I read that God himself came along and saw those aprons. He decided to clothe Adam and Eve himself and replaced the aprons with coats of skins. That sure impressed me! God really cared how they were dressed? I had never thought about God himself wanting me to dress in a certain way.

I read in Isaiah 47 about God’s judgment upon Babylon and Chaldea. As part of the curse upon them He would “make bare the leg, and uncover the thigh”. I went on to the New Testament to read that God asked women to adorn themselves in modest apparel and wear the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit. As I continued searching and found more verses that spoke of the need for a modest outward appearance and spirit, I began to be convicted in my heart. God used a situation from a few years previous to this to help me understand my need to protect my brother from stumbling. Sometimes I would wear pretty tight jeans (looking back on it I realized that) and didn’t think anything of it. One day I turned around to see a man looking at me and I knew in my heart I didn’t want to wear this pair of jeans around him again! As I prayed God brought that moment back to my mind. The study and prayer became a time to ask God to help me have a modest heart.

From that day I have continued to pray and strive to have a spirit of modesty in my heart. God never gave me a “thou shalt not” list that showed me down to the dotted i and crossed t what I should and should not wear. He didn’t give me a list of colors I could or couldn’t wear. He didn’t tell me to look like a picture right out of the 1800’s, or the 1700’s, or 1950. I never found I could only wear a denim jean jumper to be a modest woman, or only calico fabric for that matter. What God did do was change my heart.

I went from a teenager bent on living out what I thought was best to having a desire for righteousness and holiness. My spirit changed as I strove to have a meek and quiet spirit. That spirit within me changed the clothes I desired to wear. I decided I wouldn’t be involved in a sport if it required me to dress immodestly. I wouldn’t try to dress in a way that stoked lust in the men about me, but in a way that showed them I was a lady and above all, a Christian. I would try on certain clothes and feel uncomfortable with how a shirt gaped or a how tight a skirt was when I bent over.

I questioned my swimsuit habits. Did I really want to walk down the beach or go to the pool in a suit that covered less than my underclothes? Why was I willing to wear a “modest” swimsuit with a little skirt attached that was shorter than a tiny mini skirt and feel it was okay because men would see me at a pool instead of the pew at church? What was God’s definition of nakedness? Did I desire to wear expensive clothes that would cause pride in my hearts and others to stumble as they coveted what I was wearing? As I was striving to walk with God my clothing wasn’t really an issue of “me” anymore because my desire had changed. The desire of my heart was now, “God I want to be a woman after your own heart. I am willing to wear your coat of skins instead of the aprons I wanted for myself.” That’s what God wants, our hearts.

When your heart is in the right place it won’t be about you, it will be about God, a modest heart, and the brethren around you. With that spirit of God within you will become a Christian women who others see as chaste, meek, and loving. We are called to be a peculiar people. That means you are to be a peculiar woman, full of love.“For they will know you are Christian’s by their love.” Do you love your God and your brother? Your outward appearance will reflect the love that is in your heart. God delights in the woman with a modest heart.

“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.


Deuteronomy 22:5 “The woman shall not wear that which pertained unto a man, neither shall a man put on a women’s garment; for all that do so are an abomination unto the Lord thy God,”

1 Timothy 2:9,10 “ In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.”

1 Peter 3:3 “Let your adorning be not that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, or wearing of gold, or putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”

Definitions of words I strive for in spirit and dress

Modest-2887 Greek says: orderly, of good behavior.

Neat- very clean, pure, well adjusted

Comely-decent, suitable, proper, becoming, suited to time, place, circumstances, or persons.

Sober-pure, chaste, temperate

Plain-void of ornament, simple.

~Jennifer Allen is my older sister, and dearest friend. She is also married to my husband's brother, making us sister in law's as well as sisters. :) They are waiting on the Lord for children, and in the meantime she is kept busy being the seamstress for The Modest Mom! She does a fantastic job sewing the skirt orders that come in!



At May 18, 2011 at 7:00 AM , Blogger Mary Joy said...

Excellent! Excellent!! Excellent!!! Oh wow! Jennifer's story is such a wonderful testimony of how God can change our minds and hearts for His glory!!!

I've not read this before and it was exactly what I needed to read. I can really identify with the process that she went through. Although it is something that I went through over this past year.

Caroline, I sure hope you feel better soon! Strep is not fun. Take good care...I'll be praying for you!

Building Home with Him,

Mary Joy

At May 18, 2011 at 7:52 AM , Blogger Angela said...

This is wonderful....I can relate. I've posted this link on my blog.

At May 18, 2011 at 8:49 AM , Blogger Jaime @ Like a Bubbling Brook said...

Fantastic post! I love to see God working on our hearts. What a testimony!

At May 18, 2011 at 9:51 AM , Blogger Miss Linda said...

I was convicted at an early age to dress modestly, and to avoid wearing anything that "pertaineth to a man". As my standards of modesty have evolved, I taught myself to sew so I could revise commercial patterns into more modest, but still contemporary, attire. I am so grateful to have found this lovely blog and to have an opportunity to fellowship with like-minded women.

I look forward to visiting again soon! Thank you for publishing this post from your archives for new fans of your blog, and I do pray that you will soon be restored to vibrant good health. :)

At May 18, 2011 at 10:33 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mrs. Allen, I'm praying for you to get well quickly! Sending love and hugs your way.

At May 18, 2011 at 12:58 PM , Blogger Grateful Grammy said...

Very helpful post. Thanks to all of you girls for this series. Giving the spiritual/Biblical reasons as well as useful, practical counsel in how to carry this out is valuable. Thank you. (get well soon, Caroline!)

At May 18, 2011 at 2:32 PM , Blogger Karen said...

Very thought provoking. While I do wear a lot of dresses, I also wear pants and capri's. No shorts - too old. I have a 16 yr old step daughter who'd rather walk on glass than wear a dress. I didn't come into her life till she was 9 yrs old, and I've had no affect on her life in that area. Myself, I waffle back and forth for my own wardrobe, but reading the verse in Deuteronomy has got my attention. I do dress modestly, but have never made the move to dresses/skirts only. I wonder, if I did, if it would have an effect on my stepdaughter.

Thank you for the article, It was very good!

At May 18, 2011 at 4:16 PM , Blogger Deanne said...

Aw, I'm sorry you are sick...strep throat is terrible, I have great sympathy for you. Thanks for the repost, it's one of my favorites. Ironically tonight at church my daughter's youth group is having a "beauty" night. When the leaders asked for ideas I IMMEDIATELY sent them this post, the ones your husband wrote, and a couple of others (including the precious one about teaching your three year old modesty.) Classes about how to apply makeup correctly or that imply makeup makes a girl beautiful get me riled! Your Modest Mom blog makes me empowered with correct choices for the right reasons. Written eloquently I can share your posts which say what I feel but don't know how to express! Thank you, as always, for sharing a powerful message helping us to develop our womanhood as God intended:=)

At May 18, 2011 at 11:06 PM , Blogger Harter said...

Great post! I'm sorry you aren't feeling well, but I'm really glad you re-posted this! Get well soon!

At May 19, 2011 at 6:46 PM , Blogger Renata said...

Thank you for sharing this post - I'm sorry you are feeling unwell - I hope & pray that you recover quickly.
Very thought provoking - thanks to Jennifer!
Have a wonderful day

At September 21, 2011 at 11:21 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. I am at a crossroad with this very issue and look forward to reading more.


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