Lettered Hope

The Modesty Struggle

FaithJessica ScheksComment

MODESTY

I saw this quote on Pinterest today and it really resonated with me. It made me think back to the times where I struggled with dressing modestly and how frustrated I would become when all I wanted to do was slip on a pair of my old jeans on a freezing Ohio winter day.

I only gave into the "desires of my flesh" twice. We were at my grandma's for Christmas in 2010, so only several months since I had decided to always wear skirts or dresses, and there was a lot of family cramped into a tiny house. I was getting a little overheated in my knee-length jean skirt and for some reason I had it in my head that I would really cool off if I changed into the pair of jeans I had brought with me. So I changed. I can't remember how changing affected my temperature, but I remember feeling like a fake. And I just felt depleted; sort of like how you feel when you vow to yourself that you're not going to commit a certain sin in your life, but then you find yourself giving in. And afterwards you have none of the pleasure you thought that decision would bring you.

That feeling I had after changing into jeans at my grandma's was enough to give me motivation to resolve to never do that again. But sometime within the next year or so, I found myself in another situation. I lived in co-ed dorms (but we each had a private bathroom, so it wasn't as sketchy as it sounds) and I had the mindset that the dormitory building was like my house, so wearing  sweatpants around was acceptable. But this time I had to run to the little market directly behind my dorm to get a snack. It was late - I'd already showered and changed into comfy clothes and I fought with myself over whether or not I should go down in sweatpants.

Even though I felt like I shouldn't, I told myself that I'd be really fast, so it didn't matter. So down I went- when I reached the ground floor I went to turn the corner and was stopped with the vision of who I thought was my friend Christa walking by in a floor length jean skirt. She had a green coat on (just like Christa) and brown hair that was cut (just like Christa and rules out many Pentecostal women who do not cut their hair). It was past 9:00 and I was so startled to see her that at first I jumped back behind a wall because I felt ashamed. But then I thought to myself, "It's Christa! She won't care..." So I started walking again and called out her name. She didn't turn around so then I grew very curious of who this skirt wearing person was. I really had to quicken my pace to catch up with her but she walked out the doors before I could. When I walked out I didn't see her anywhere (and you can only turn left or right). Then I felt really convicted.

I am definitely not saying that I saw an angel, or had a vision from the Lord. Maybe I did... I guess I won't know that for awhile. But whoever it was, angelic or not, was enough to convict me for good. Now I know that the desire to dress immodestly at times is not worth how I will feel afterwards. Generally my desire stems from laziness; I just want to wear sweatpants or jeans. But occasionally when I see a girl in real life or on Pinterest with leggings on, the cutest tunic-y top I've ever seen, super cute booties, an infinity scarf, and an adorable vest... I become a little jealous because I know that the outfit could not be pulled off with a knee-length (or longer) skirt.

So this quote captures my feelings to a T! And I'm here to tell you that dressing modestly is sometimes a struggle for me, just like any sin or temptation I have to deal with is. It was not a "one and done" type of decision for me when I decided to dress more modestly. For awhile it was a pretty constant struggle. When I first decided that I was going to wear skirts I felt sick - it was a scary choice to make. And I made the choice publicly so it felt like there was no turning back...was it something I'd regret in a couple years? Could I really see myself for the rest of my life wearing skirts?

To clarify, I am definitely NOT saying that if you are a woman and wear pants that you are sinning. Dressing modestly requires very personal decisions and interpretations that is only between you and God. It is a decision that I think should only be made based on inspiration you find from the Lord. It shouldn't be something that you do to please others, and it should be a personal belief that you hold in your heart. But it isn't something you should ignore altogether, either. I think it is something you should take to the Lord and ask Him what He wants from you. Ask the Lord to guide you and to show you what pleases Him. Even if you have a certain pair of pants or a shirt that you sometimes question yourself when you wear it, ask God.

>> A word of advice, though, I have found that if you are already questioning it, you've kind of answered the question for yourself. And sometimes you have to give something up and say to yourself, "This struggle/question I have just isn't worth it when it comes to eternity." And leave it at that.

So with my "disclaimer" that you just read, I would now like to say something that some may find to be a bit controversial. But I'm going to say it anyways. And really, this is only for those who have already made a decision in their life to dress more modestly than they have in the past.

Choosing to dress modestly is just like choosing to wait to be intimate in marriage, or choosing not to gossip. It's not a one time decision, but one that you have to make over and over again. Especially towards the beginning of your modest journey. If you feel the Lord telling you in your life to dress modestly that's a pretty serious thing. If you vowed to the Lord that you would dress modestly for Him, that's a pretty serious thing. I have felt that calling on my life, I'm not sure I'd go as far as to say it's a "commandment" in my walk with God, but I'm also not going to say that it isn't. I feel very convicted to dress modestly - and to not do what the Lord is telling me to do sounds like sin to me.

>>If you have genuinely sought the Lord about dressing modestly and you have found that you still feel like it's okay for you to wear pants then I think you've done your job (but revisit the subject from time to time - don't dismiss it for life).

It is only sin if you feel or even know that you should be dressing more modestly and don't.

Sometimes modesty has to start on the outside, which means that your thoughts aren't always modest - You hunger for a comfortable pair of jeans or for some comfy yoga pants on a lazy day. But I can tell you from experience, that eventually your thoughts begin to change. You begin to realize how good it feels to dress modestly and please the Lord. And as your thoughts change, that means your heart is changing and your thoughts and mind are being clothed in modesty as well.

If modesty started purely on the inside for you, then you should be praising the Lord. If you just had a desire to give up dressing worldly and were happy to do it, then you should be praising the Lord! Because for me (and for my friends) it was not that easy. It was kind of like we had one foot standing in the world, and one foot standing in the Kingdom; we wanted to please God and we had an inkling that dressing modestly was what we should do... but it was hard to give up. And you kind of have to go cold turkey - you can't wear "worldly patches" to help you wean off immodest articles of clothing, you just have to give it up. It's a sacrifice. You are giving your temple to the Lord to use for His glory, and you should be giving it cheerfully, not begrudgingly!

This October it will be FIVE years of dressing modestly for me! As you have read, it wasn't always easy or fun. Sometimes it was a decision - just like deciding you aren't going to share that really juicy piece of gossip you overheard with your best friend. It can be a hard decision at times, but I have found again and again that there is not one article of clothing on this earth that could possibly come close to compensating for how modesty feels.