My parents always made sure that I was never dressed provocatively. I remember as a little girl my mom dressed me up in dresses A LOT! I always had a dress for the first day of school, always wore a dress to church, wore dresses regularly to school in elementary school. As I got older I was not allowed to wear shirts that showed my stomach or shorts and skirts that were too tight. I would have never made it out of the house wearing all black or skimpy clothing. My mom was pretty strict and made sure we knew what was acceptable and what was not.
Even with these boundaries set in my home-life growing up, I have struggled with what modesty was my entire life! My extended family on my mom’s side were very modest in their dress and believe that Christian women should wear dresses/skirts below their knee, and I believe sleeves below the elbow, they do not wear make up, they do not wear jewelry. I have heard the reasons for this and have searched scripture to back these reasons up many, MANY times in order to figure out for myself if this was what God wanted from my own life. I came to the conclusion. through many hours of reading and searching the scripture that these specific things were not mandatory from God in order to be a Christian, but, that does not mean that he will not lay these things on your heart eventually to change in your life.
I know in a lot of my posts I’ve written about how some of our reasons for homeschooling have come out of our own experiences with the public school. I remember as a young girl in elementary school, my mom would pretty me up each morning. She would braid or curl my hair, put a bow in it, and dress me up with frilly socks, dress shoes and a frilly beautiful dress that she had purchased that fall. I also remember, after a little while of wearing dresses frequently, begging her every morning to please not make me wear them anymore!! My mom, thinking I was just being stubborn, would battle with me and of course won in the end but little did she know my struggles at school I had by wearing those dresses. I’m not really even sure I’ve even told her all about my experience till this day. I know I kept it quiet then because I wasn’t sure if I would get into trouble. It started out in my second grade class. There was a little boy that sat in front of me. Every day during reading time, when we were supposed to be reading out loud and following along in our books, he would turn around and rub my legs! I was a very quiet student, and always wanted to please my teacher so my biggest concern was that I was going to get into trouble because I would quietly beg him to stop touching me and leave me alone!! I remember even getting aggressive with him and kicking his hands away from myself, yet, he continued rubbing my legs every day! This went on for maybe months before my teacher finally picked up on what he was doing. Looking back now I’m really not sure how she could have NOT picked up on it sooner with how distracting he was being. I remember my embarrassment, and the dreaded moment when she called my name as loud as she could and stated in front of the entire class, “IS HE RUBBING YOUR LEGS!!!” Everyone laughed at me! I was humiliated!! He was asked to step into the hallway and everything after that was a blur except for the part where I got home and my mom wanted to know why I didn’t come to her and tell her about it! I think I just didn’t want to disappoint her to be honest. Another incident when I wore dresses to school happened even before then, it was my Kindergarten year. We had assigned seats on the bus, we had to sit BOY, GIRL. I was stuck between two boys. Every day on the ride home they would take turns holding me down in the bus seat and trying to kiss me. I remember being humiliated when I was wearing a dress because it would get so intense they would have me on the floor of the bus sitting on top of me trying to kiss me while I was kicking and punching and refusing to let them near my face!! Occasionally one of them would get a peck on my cheek and scream “I got one!” and then they would continue the entire bus ride home! By the time I would get home I was emotionally, and physically drained but I felt ashamed and embarrassed and didn’t want to tell my mom because I didn’t want to make her upset. And again looking back, how did that bus driver NEVER see a little kindergartner fighting off two boys every day the ENTIRE bus ride home??
These experiences were pretty traumatic for such a young girl, and they shaped the way I looked at modesty. I’m not sure how old I was when my mom finally gave up her battle with me on wearing pretty dresses to school, but I know that from that point on I never wanted to wear a dress again! The only dress I ever felt slightly comfortable in was something that went down to my ankles! And even then it was few and far between when I would wear those. After going through that I felt very strongly when I had my fist two daughters that modesty for them was keeping their legs covered by pants. That was the BEST way to keep them dressed modest while protecting them from anything uncomfortable. I also did not want a man to be able to pick up my infant and be able to feel under her dress easily. So while they were little Modesty was keeping them inaccessible.
See after going through a divorce 11 years ago, and for a short time being married to a man whose eyes and head would turn anytime a woman was showing cleavage, or wearing something revealing, I began to realize why we should keep our bodies covered! I think it is wonderful that some women have worked so hard to be fit, and have beautiful bodies and are so self-confident and proud of their bodies! However, you stick your body in front of my husband with a tiny shirt that hardly covers your chest and we are going to have some words! I realize that it is not the other woman’s fault what a man thinks in his mind or where a man lays his eyes, however, for me, it’s women having respect for each other enough to understand that tempting someones husband will only cause pain and heartache for his wife. After realizing this through my own experiences, I stopped wearing things that I felt would draw attention to my body in that way. The last thing I would ever have wanted to do would be to hurt a woman who may be already be having other issues she is dealing with in her marriage! Nor would I want my children to do the same! With this in mind I began to understand that every male is, or will be someone’s husband. Just because he isn’t married yet, doesn’t mean that God does not have a woman that is getting ready for that man. If my girls were to tempt a boy who one day would be someone else’s husband, it is just as bad as tempting a man who is already married! God has asked us in his word to not tempt our brothers, and sisters in Christ, and it is my hearts desire to see that our family obey God’s word- especially with regard to this area.
For the last five years, I have been wrestling with God on the subject of Modesty for my girls. I’ve felt like he has laid it on my heart to examine my beliefs of the way I dress them and re-evaluate. I’ve entertained this thought for the last five maybe even seven years but have always thrown it out and put it out of my mind!
A few months ago I came across a blog post by Large Families on Purpose talking about why they wear dresses. Long story short, it talked about how when you put on a pair of jeans, the way that they are made the lines and creases pull the eye straight to the crotch or bottom of the person wearing the jeans. Because of this they felt that Jeans were not appropriate for their girls to wear. My husband and I both read this together and it was the first time that my heart began to understand a reason besides, “because that is how Christians should dress.” It actually was starting to make sense to me. However my husband and I both, quickly went back to the fact that God is more interested in our hearts than what we are wearing!
A few weeks later, our family visited a new church. What I felt there that morning was totally unexpected!! We loved the church, the worship was amazing, the pastor was great, but the entire service my mind was stuck on the fact that every one of the youth that was standing up front was wearing skinny jeans! It was like God hit me right upside my forehead and was like “LOOK!!” Two months ago, if I was not pregnant, I would have probably entertained wearing skinny jeans myself, however this particular morning for the first time, I saw them through different eyes. I realized that those jeans accentuated every area on those sweet innocent kids that I did not want people looking at on my children! It bothered me SO much in fact that that is all I talked about on the way home to my husband was how we may want to re-evaluate what is modest for our children.
When we got home that Sunday, one of our daughters was wearing a jean skirt, and the other a regular pair of every day jeans. While trying to explain to my husband why I all the sudden had a change of heart about our girls wearing jeans, I turned them around side by side and pointed out how the jeans cling to the back of my daughters thighs and her bottom pops out without even really meaning too! It is just the way that they make girls jeans! However, wearing a skirt falls off the top of the bottom and leaves everything else covered. My husband also, for the first time was able to agree that this was going to be more of an issue with jeans as they grew older and it would be better for them to wear skirts, especially in public in order to remain modest. I don’t believe, in my entire walk with the Lord have I ever felt hit so hard with a conviction that I have been trying to dismiss out of my life (for good reason) for so long!!
Now here is the disclaimer! At this time, and after going through this I realize that God can change our hearts on anything at any time so this could change later as well, I do not feel uncomfortable with my smaller girls (4 and under) wearing jeans, just my 7 and 8 year old. I also do not feel uncomfortable with any of them (at this time) wearing shorts, because the shorts that we have at the moment, fall off their backsides and do not cling underneath accentuating their body parts. I also do not feel uncomfortable with them wearing jeans at home. I do not feel we need to be super strict about this area right now, I feel we can be liberal with it while using it as a teaching opportunity for modesty for the older girls. I do not feel the need to throw out all their jeans right now and change them to skirts. I feel this will happen eventually over time and I want it to also be something that THEY want to do because they feel it is better to be covered and save themselves for their future husbands than to accentuate themselves for everyone else. After talking to my older girls about this they were EXCITED that they were going to be able to wear dresses more! They LOVE wearing dresses. Of course, they will have some type of shorts underneath for my own peace of mind, and also for their own comfort.
I also do not feel this is for everyone, or that if you do not dress this way you are not a Christian because I do strongly believe that God looks at your heart and not what we wear. I also believe that he convicts different people of different things at different times in their lives to challenge their faith, and strengthen their walk with Him. This area for me is a TRUE challenge.
While I feel I can let go a bit and start walking in this direction of modesty with the way we dress our girls, I am going to have to have a little more conviction from the Lord in order to do it myself. I feel very uncomfortable still at the moment with wearing dresses myself, and have often prayed and told the Lord, “I’ll make you a deal, when I lose all my baby weight I will start wearing dresses more!” I realize that I set the example for my children and I desire to do that, however, I am going to need more prayer and help from the Lord with my own issues on wearing more dresses in the future and I intend to work on that!
Again, I realize this is a controversial issue and most people will not agree with my mindset on this, and that is perfectly okay. Please understand that I do not think anything differently of anyone because they wear pants at ALL!! This is just something that we feel, that Lord has purposely laid on our hearts at this particular time to change in our own family- over time!
So those of you who already have gone through this stage in your life, please keep me in your prayers as I personally struggle with this change in my own heart.
My desire is just that my girls will have self-respect, and not have to go looking for the attention of a man with their bodies, but that they will seek the attention of a husband because of their love for the Lord.