Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How I Found Modesty, or How Modesty Found Me ~ Part One

I was not raised with modesty. I wore halter tops and matching sunburns in the summer and pants that chafed all year round. I was on the swim team and have an Olan Mills photograph of myself and my brother in our racing suits. By college, I was wearing mini-skirts. The prevailing attitude was if you got it, flaunt it. It didn’t take long for me to learn that flaunting it got me into trouble.


My husband and I were married in 1992, and I remember two specific garments I took on our honeymoon. One was a strapless dress which I wore to a fancy restaurant on Maui. The other was a bikini I wore to the beach. My conscience must have still been in working order because I refused to have my picture taken in my bikini. J

After we were married, our faith grew steadily due to many different circumstances and events, and we changed churches a couple of times to attend churches that were more focused on the Bible. Both my husband and I were adults before we ever heard anything about knowing and obeying the will of God. Throughout this growth period, a couple of mind-openers occurred that continued to nag at me.

First, I began to notice the teenagers around me. Now that I was no longer one, I observed with a more detached view, and I was surprised at the shortness, lowness, and tightness of what they wore. This made me begin to notice what I was wearing. I also wondered why the church would have pool parties for the teenagers. They required everyone to wear a one-piece suit (no bikinis allowed), but that didn’t make sense to me. How did that prevent the teens from seeing too much of each other?

Second, I had children. Two daughters in a row. And as I held my tiny future teen girls and looked at the teen girls around me and remembered my escapades, I got scared.

During the summer when my oldest daughter was two-and-a-half and my second daughter was nine months old, my husband and I went to assist his mother in holding a rummage sale. A couple of my husband’s great aunts stopped by, and one aunt talked about her work in the office at Wal-Mart. She commented that a co-worker of hers wore skirts all the time and had long hair. Both the aunt and her co-worker were Pentecostal, but the aunt didn’t understand why her co-worker’s church women wore skirts all the time and her church didn’t. None of us had any answer for her.

{I’m not discussing the different denominations here. I’m not Pentecostal, and I don’t even know exactly what they believe.}

That off-hand remark embedded itself in my mind, and I mulled it over and over and over. When we got home, I searched my Bible for several days looking for the foundation for the idea that women should wear skirts. It appealed to me, but I needed to know if it was from the Lord. Since this was before Google and blogs, I spent quite a bit of time searching and praying.

Eventually, my husband said that there was a woman at his work who wore skirts all the time. God bless his heart, he asked her about her skirts! She graciously agreed to exchange emails with me and be available to answer questions as I continued to search.

So, we began a three-month exchange of emails that went way beyond skirt-wearing to church doctrine and youth groups and even recipes. She didn’t teach me; all she really did was answer questions that confirmed the way that the Lord had been leading us.

These are the verses that spoke to me ~

1 Timothy 2:9-10 ~ “…In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.”

1 Peter 3:3-4 ~ “Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”

In this crisis time, I quickly decided that if I was going to believe the Bible, I would need to believe every single word. I was astounded to see that God spoke of modesty more than once! I also saw that my beauty was not to come from a fancy hairstyle or jewelry or expensive clothing but from who I was on the inside.

Deuteronomy 22:5 ~ “A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment….”

Perhaps this verse doesn't speak directly to modesty, but it definitely spoke to me about masculinity versus femininity. I read in this verse that God wants men and women to look different. In our current time (and for the past several hundred years), this difference has taken the form of pants for men and skirts for women. How men and women were dressing the same at the time of the book of Deuteronomy and how the Lord expected them to dress differently, I haven’t a clue.

Genesis 3:21 ~ “Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.”

Genesis 3:7 tells us that Adam and Eve, when they realized they were naked, sewed fig leaves together as coverings. This is like an apron or, as some artists like to interpret it, a loin cloth. However, according to Genesis 3:21, this was not enough to satisfy God. He made for them tunics of skin from the first animal sacrifice. The original word for what He made is similar to coat.

2 Timothy 3:16 ~ “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”

All Scripture includes the Old Testament. What an eye-opener this was for me!

I love it that I can say that this all really came from the Lord. There was no one particular friend, no blog, no church leader who sat me down and said that I should wear skirts all the time and then outlined all the reasons for me. It was the Lord, and even in the process I knew He was guiding me. It was an incredible time of feeling his touch upon me, a feeling that I often re-visit when life gets difficult.


See you in Part Two!








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39 comments:

  1. I love reading the different ways that the Lord lead them to modesty and such. Thanks for sharing!!

    Take care,
    Frances

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    1. It is wonderful to read how the Lord speaks differently to different people. Thanks so much for reading and commenting today!

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  2. I remember my teen years and cringe sometimes! A year as a cheerleader in one of those uniforms (shudder), and always just pushing the limit on what my parents would let me wear to get it a bit shorter or tighter. I'm grateful I grew up.

    One thought that often guides me in choosing clothing for myself and my children is "would I want someone to wear this around MY husband?". It really clears up a lot of things...LOL. With my oldest girl turning 12 next month she's noticing more the way adult and teen women at church dress and has been asking questions about why they dress the way they do when we are generally in line with the standards of our church, but these church members dress so differently. We have a few women who could give Barbie a run for her money and they are teaching their daughters to dress the same provocative way. Even when they ARE covered the clothing is extra form fitting, so that has been an interesting discussion with my oldest, that just because the body parts are covered doesn't mean it's modest.

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    1. Thank you, Tristan, for leaving such a wonderful and thorough comment! Your thought of what you would be comfortable with others wearing around your husband is spot on. I do that all the time. And I agree completely -- wearing something as a second skin just isn't modest.

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  3. I enjoyed your post and hearing how God led you to modesty. You have a beautiful family!

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  4. Love this post. I started feeling this tug when I was a teenager, and I didn't know a soul who dressed modestly or in skirts. It took me many years to finally just do it. For us, the skirts and dresses are a way to minister. People KNOW when they see is that we are a Christian bunch of ladies. If they need prayer or are down on their luck, they will know good and well who to go to simply by our dress. That's pretty important to us, to let our lights shine. We also follow the Biblical nakedness standards. No thighs showing. If the Bible says it's naked, it's naked. We are also careful with modesty and not wearing clingy clothing. We do not ever want to on purpose be a stumbling block for someone else. Men are attracted to looks, and that's just how God made them. We can look lovely without being revealing and drawing someone to sin. Looking forward to reading the rest!

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    1. Now, Val, you're jumping ahead to future posts! :) One of the reasons I love modesty is because people just ask, "Where do you go to church?" And yes, if I can remember the passage, I'm including the one about nakedness being the thigh. Great thoughts! Thanks for such a detailed comment!

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    2. Oh, Meghan, I preach to much LOL I am really looking forward to this series

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  5. Meghan - Thank you so much for explaining how you came to understand modesty and how important it is to embrace it. This is something I've been pulled towards for a time now and I've been resisting. On Sunday mornings, the ladies of our church are almost all in slacks and jeans, so I've really not had anyone to puzzle this through with, so it's been really helpful to read how this was for you. I'm a little worried about what my husband will think - his faith takes a very different shape than my own and I think the reason for the changes in me have been making him a bit uncomfortable (the changes have been ok, but he thinks it weird when I quote scripture to explain the why's), but I've been really convicted recently to be the kind of wife God wants me to be. This self stuff surely does get in the way!

    I will study those scriptures you mentioned, and will pray about it some more. And just maybe, I'll go to my favorite thrift store when I do my shopping today, and get a few skirts and try it out for a few days.

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I'll be looking forward to learning more about about modesty from you.

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    1. Your comment is such a blessing, Victoria. That's exactly why I've finally started this series. I'm so glad it's been helpful and encouraging. I'm praying for all who read this that they will know the will of God and grow closer to Him.

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    2. Just wanted to encourage Victoria in this! Bless you for being open to what the Lord wants to teach you in this!

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    3. Thanks, Val, for coming back to read the other comments. I love it when the readers begin to interact with each other!

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  6. I truly enjoyed your post on modesty. Being ultra-conserative Pentecostal, I often get strange looks and comments on my hair and dress, as well as other beliefs. People often think that we dress as we do because we "have" to and it is so refreshing and inspiring to read about people who see that dressing modestly is not something that is a "man-made rule" (I cannot tell you how many times I have heard that comment, LOL) but rather a "God-made rule". To be honest, I am really thankful that you did your research through prayer and scripture instead of Google because you understand the concept of God given commandments. Cannot wait to read your next post.

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    1. Thank you so much for your encouragement. We also hear a lot that we have to dress this way because of the church we go to, as if we don't have any choice or thought in the matter. But you'll read in the next post that I had already heard the will of God before we found the church.

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  7. Thanks for sharing your journey. I had my eyes opened to modesty in college when a good Christian friend lovingly confronted me on my wardrobe. Good to hear someone speak up for the importance of modesty.

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    1. It sounds, then, like you responded well to the confrontation. Very courageous of both the confronter and you. So glad you commented, Angie.

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  8. Thanks for sharing your journey, Meghan. And I love that picture of your daughter!

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  9. I sincerely appreciate this post about how modesty found you. I grew up in a Christian home with a father who was a minister and a mother who was not as conservative. As long as I wore skirts or dresses to church and no short-shorts, everything was considered acceptable. I pushed the limits, with my mother's approval, because of the old saying "If you've got it, flaunt it." I am embarrassed and ashamed at how I dressed. As a wife and mother now, I can honestly say that the Lord has completely changed my attitude and thinking toward this subject. Our family has begun the transition to dressing modestly. We haven't completely made the change to wear skirts/dresses 100% of the time, but we are daily making changes that reflect this change of heart. I agree with the reader about the verse in Isaiah, I believe, about the thigh being nakedness. If God views it as nakedness, then it's nakedness. I wish our pastors and preachers would teach/preach lovingly about this topic. I am sad to say that I've seen more cleavage and bare thighs at church than in public many times. (sigh) One last thing---I have always found it puzzling to see how most women or men would never answer the door if they were wearing only underwear, but wearing a bathing suit, one-piece or any other is totally acceptable because of being at the beach or swimming. Many bathing suits cover even LESS than one's undergarments!! Truly blows my mind!!

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    1. Praise God for your faithfulness to His leading, Michelle! It's a wonderful testimony. Thank you so much for sharing this!

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  10. I haven't had as much time to read lately (baby twins) but I am so glad that I read this post. You do such a good job explaining how you came to dress modestly. It is not something that is talked about as much anymore. The thing that I think is important is that you have the right spirit inside you. All the modest dressing on the outside amounts to nothing without the Holy Spirit living in us.

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    1. Thank you for your encouragement, Judith. You are exactly right, of course. It's not the outside that gets us to Heaven.

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  11. Hello Mrs. Carver,
    I'm a new reader of your blog and I've found it to be encouraging to find fellow like minded followers of Christ. God called me to modesty a couple of years ago and I'm mainly skirts only but for safety reasons do wear jeans at work or with my horses. But I make sure I wear loose jeans and a tunic type top.
    I was raised by my wonderful Godly mother and she was careful about our dress code but I was allowed to wear shorts as long as it was knee length and the shirts loose/long enough. Besides the modesty issue God has called me to pursue how to be a Godly young woman and to be an example to young teen girls that they can be confident in how they look outwardly but more importantly to pursue inward beauty which can only be found in pursuing Christ-like character.

    You and your husband have been blessed with beautiful daughters and let them know that they have fellow "sisters" out there praying for them and are encouraged by their obedience to God.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this lengthy post and may God bless you with a wonderful weekend.

    Rebekah

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words, Rebekah. (And I'm impressed with the Mrs. My mother taught me that as well. :) ) I'm so glad my daughters have been an encouragement. That was my goal! Many blessings to you as you follow His will!

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  12. Thank you for sharing your testimony.

    LauraHarvest Lane Cottage

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  13. Thank you for your post! I've been reading your blog for a few months now, and I wondered how you came to your beliefs on modesty. Personally, I grew up in a conservative church so I've always worn skirts. I still sometimes struggle though, seeing many people including relatives who don't dress modestly. I have two daughters, 7 and 4, and I'm wanting good answers for my daughters as they grow up. I have to confess, I haven't really searched the Scriptures and prayed like you have. However, through my "googling"! I came across several really good blogs, including yours, that have encouraged me just seeing that there are many people out there who believe in modesty, even if they don't believe exactly as I was taught. You've challenged me now to do more searching of the Scriptures so God can help me to train my daughters!

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  14. Thank you for your post! I've been reading your blog for a few months now, and I wondered how you came to your beliefs on modesty. Personally, I grew up in a conservative church so I've always worn skirts. I still sometimes struggle though, seeing many people including relatives who don't dress modestly. I have two daughters, 7 and 4, and I'm wanting good answers for my daughters as they grow up. I have to confess, I haven't really searched the Scriptures and prayed like you have. However, through my "googling"! I came across several really good blogs, including yours, that have encouraged me just seeing that there are many people out there who believe in modesty, even if they don't believe exactly as I was taught. You've challenged me now to do more searching of the Scriptures so God can help me to train my daughters!

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    1. I'm so glad the post was an encouragement to you. And keep reading those blogs -- there are several terrific ones. Many blessings to you! :)

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  15. Meghan, thank you for sharing this at Proverbs 31 Thursdays last week. I'm going to be sharing it on FB and Twitter this afternoon. You are such a blessing and an inspiration to so many. You're someone I wish I lived closer to so we could visit. :) Keep up the good work.

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing, and thank you for your kind words. Maybe someday we could visit in person, but for now at least we can visit online!

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  16. I saw this posting from Raising Mighty Arrows on Facebook.
    Love this post and the encouragement I received from it. I'll be sure to follow your blog now. Thank you!

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    1. I'm so glad it was encouraging. Thanks for following, and many blessings to you! :)

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  17. Thank you so much for sharingn your encouraging story!

    Heading on to read part Two...

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I so much appreciate your time and effort in leaving a comment, and I try to respond to as many as time permits. :-)