Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Not Soon At All

So, I obviously didn't get around to finishing the modesty posts "soon", and after re-reading them, I can't think of another post's worth of things to say about modesty. Blogging fell to the side in favor of getting married, being married(!), moving to Oklahoma City, and being in nursing school!

However, I'm in desperate need of a study break, and I've been wanting to get back into blogging for some time now. I've been tremendously blessed by the encouraging comments that have come in over the past year and a half regarding the modesty series. They've inspired me to give this blog another try!

I'm way too tired to write a coherent, "year in review" post, so for tonight, I'll just share a cool way that God ministered to me through music...
Over Christmas break, I came across a worship song that I first heard when PJ was about to leave for Africa (Center--the version I have is by Charlie Hall). A few lines in that song really spoke to me when I was scared to death about PJ going to Namibia, and they still continue to minister to me today as we look towards a life of service in foreign missions.

We lift our eyes to Heaven
We wrap our lives around Your life
Oh Christ, be the center of our lives
Be the place we fix our eyes

Through these words, I was reminded of the precious call that God has placed on our lives--to glorify Him and to bring the Good News of Jesus to the ends of the earth. These words helped me to send PJ to Namibia with a heart full of joy, knowing that his trip was part of the way that we wrap our lives around Christ. They remind me to keep Christ at the center of this stressful time in nursing school. And finally, they encourage me to lift my eyes to Heaven and trust that God will provide the perfect time and place for us to fulfill the call He has placed upon our lives to leave home and follow Him.

I was so excited to find this song again! I think it's awesome...go download it and be blessed! :-)

Because He lives,

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Modest Swimsuits 101

So if typical swimsuits aren’t the answer, what do you do? I used to think there were absolutely no other options besides avoiding water at all costs for the rest of my life, but I was wrong. There is another way, and I recently tested it on a trip to a resort in Mexico.

First of all, let me say that this was not always easy. As the trip came closer and I started shopping for Caribbean worthy clothes, there was a HUGE temptation to abandon all I had learned in the past year, buy an oh-so-cute bikini, and worry about modesty when I’m 60 and wrinkly. It took a lot of prayer by me and for me and a great amount of grace and strength from God to decide to unwaveringly pursue the modesty standards that He had impressed upon me.

A few days before the trip, I went to a sports store (Sports Authority, Academy, etc.) to look for something to wear swimming. During my trial run last summer, I wore board shorts from the guy’s department and a sports shirt that is a polyester/nylon blend over a tankini. However, because that made me feel like a cross-dresser, I really wanted to buy something from the women’s department. I found two pairs of board shorts (these were 97% cotton/3% Spandex) and a pink(!) sports shirt. The shirts are athletic shirts that I think are mainly made for cycling. I also bought a one-piece swimsuit to wear under the shorts and shirts.

On the trip, I made the commitment that I would always wear shorts and a shirt over the swimsuit-no exceptions. The results? I ended up liking it! Really. I never had to worry about the swimsuit staying in place or covering what it was supposed to cover. I was a lot more comfortable with myself. And surprisingly, I didn’t feel like a freak. Yes, I was the only one dressed like that, but honestly, it didn’t bother me. I was much less self-conscious while wearing the shirt and shorts than I used to be in a regular swimsuit. I didn’t feel like people were judging my body as they walked by since there wasn’t much to see. And, bonus-I didn’t get sunburned at all since so much of me was covered.

Of course, it wasn’t a perfect experience. With being in an extremely humid climate, the clothes didn’t dry like they do here. Once I got wet, I stayed wet. This was more uncomfortable than wearing a typical swimsuit because I had a lot of wet material sticking to me. Solution? Next time, I’ll change out of the wet clothes more often if I’m bothered by it. The only other problem I had was wearing the one-piece swimsuit under my clothes on a trip to the Mayan ruins and beach. It was a really hot day, and the swimsuit didn’t allow me to cool off since it was clinging to my front and back. For that, a two-piece would have been cooler. However, I did like the coverage of the one-piece in general. Also, I found that the polyester/nylon shorts dry more quickly than the cotton ones.

I know this view of swimsuits is wildly unpopular. I have been met with resistance from both my peers (guys and girls) and older women. From the younger set, the general attitude is something like this: “If you want to do this, that’s fine. But really, it’s unnecessary to make this kind of statement. This is 2007, not 1900. Just pick a modest swimsuit, and that’s enough in the modesty department.” The responses from women around my mom’s age are different, yet still unsupportive. “You’re young and beautiful! You’ve got a great body-show it off while you can!” However, I have come to believe that these attitudes leave Christ out of the picture and allow the world to define us. In my experience, buying a swimsuit has been all about me-and not at all about Christ. In general, I think that as girls we tend to have a mental checklist for buying a swimsuit: “Do I look fat anywhere? Does my (favorite body attribute here) look good in this? Will people (hot guys) think I look good?” If the answers are no, yes, and I hope so, then we’ve got a new swimsuit. The trouble is that with this attitude, we fail to seek and honor Christ with our hearts, minds, and bodies. Remember, the goal of swimsuit designers is not to further your walk with Christ-it’s to sell swimsuits.

To any girls who may identify with what I’m saying: I would love to help you find something else to wear while swimming. If you live near me, let’s go shopping! If not, I would be more than happy to work with you online to help you get started. Leave me a comment, and I’ll get back to you.

Thanks for reading! This modesty series is coming to an end. (Yay! I’m ready to write about the other amazing things God is doing in my life.) I’ll finish up with a closing post sometime soon.

For His glory,

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Let's Talk About Swimsuits!

Hello again!

Now it’s time to discuss the most drastic change I’ve made in the pursuit of glorifying God through modesty…swimsuits! There is so much to talk about; let’s dive in!

Our culture in the United States, virtually without question, accepts that when we swim, do water activities, or tan, we wear a typical swimsuit. For women, this essentially means taking off our clothes and wearing something as revealing as underwear and leaves almost nothing to the imagination. Think about it: even the “modest swimsuits” (tankinis (two-piece with longer top to cover some of the stomach), bottoms cut into short shorts instead of bikini style) are clingy, especially when wet, and expose A LOT of skin. Somehow, this is culturally acceptable. It is something we do without question and without reservation. But should we? Is it possible that Christians need to not agree with the worldly standards in this area and go in a different direction with the area of swimwear?

We have trained ourselves to think that when someone is wearing a swimsuit, they are appropriately covered. Really? Then why is it not acceptable to dress like that in a normal setting apart from some body of water? We don’t wear our swimsuits to Bible study or church. We don’t wear our swimsuits to a movie night with friends. When removed from its normal context, a swimsuit would easily be labeled as immodest. So are they really appropriate to wear ever? Why do our standards of modesty change so drastically, without question, when we get around the pool or the ocean? In general, I (and the girls I know who also maintain a good sense of modesty) would never be seen in such tight or so little clothing in any other setting. So why do we take off our clothes (in front of boys!) to swim?

Getting past the mentality that I had to stay within the boundaries of typical swimsuits was a struggle for me. Accepting the idea that I had to change and be different from essentially everyone else was almost impossible. However, by God’s grace, He is showing me another way. I once belonged to the world in this area, and it is something that I have come to regret tremendously. I had the “modest swimsuits”, and I also had the tiny two-piece. I thought, “I’m young and thin-I can and should wear what looks good!” Because of that choice, I allowed anyone who saw me to see most of my body uncovered, and the rest covered by little material. How sad. They did not deserve that temptation, my future husband does not deserve my previous exposure, and I regret that so many have seen so much of me. Back then, my attitude was one of great selfishness and pride. I wanted to draw attention to myself. At that time, I had a boyfriend, and I wore what I thought would be attractive to him. Where was Christ in all of this? I was glorifying myself, not Him. Ouch. I didn’t value His creation, my beauty as a woman, enough to save it for the man who would be my husband. It was available for the taking to anyone and everyone.

Even as I began to be convicted in this area last summer, I desperately fought the idea of changing. PJ can vouch for this-my arguing, crying, and sulking as we worked though this issue. I was full of the excuses-the same ones that I’ve heard from every person that I’ve talked to about this issue: “There’s nothing else to wear... It would be impossible to change… It’s not really necessary to change my ways... Swimsuits aren’t a big deal as long as they’re modest… If everyone’s wearing a swimsuit, no one’s going to notice me... Swimsuits aren’t a temptation to boys when they’re swimming” And on and on…but really, I think that these are lies of the world that we so readily accept. Being mostly naked in front of everyone (men) should be kind of a big deal to us as Christians. You are being noticed. Boys are looking. Married men are looking. Creepy men are looking. Old men are looking… We’re conforming to the world, but not to Christ. And believe it or not, we do have other options.

This is getting kind of long, so I’m going to break here and save the options for my next post. Before I end, though, I want to make it clear that I did not come to these conclusions on my own. This comes from a lot of prayer, a lot of hard talks and questions, and a tremendous amount of grace. I’m trying to be obedient to the call of Christ in my life, and I truly believe that this swimsuit issue needs to be addressed by other Christians.

Let me know what you think so far. The next post is coming soon!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

At Long Last...

So by a few days, I guess I meant two months between posts. With the end of a semester, finals, packing and moving PJ, his graduation, sending him to Africa, starting a job, getting adjusted to life at home, and wedding planning, let's just say life is full. And blessedly so! But I'm ready to finish up with the modesty series, so I hope to get the last posts out quickly (which for me probably means by the end of summer!)'s the next one.

In the last post, I told you what I stopped wearing. Now it's time to find out why!
The things that I changed are clothes that are really common for girls to wear, but that doesn't mean that we should accept them without careful consideration (or at all...?). Also, I promise to provide wearable, real-life-tested alternatives to everything that I suggest that you consider changing.

About those tank tops...they were one of the hardest things to stop wearing. It's hot during the summer, and a lot of the cute tops are tank tops! PJ explained it to me like this: strapless tops are BAD for guys, spaghetti straps and other thin straps are better but in no way good (read: bad), and covering the shoulders is by far the best way to go. In general, tank tops equal more skin. More skin can very easily equal more lust, or at least temptation to lust that was triggered specifically by a clothing choice. Is it worth it? For me, that answer is no. According to The Modesty Survey, 57.6% of guys who took the survey agree that tank tops are generally immodest. 73.5% of them agree that halter tops are immodest. These numbers are high, and in general, the majority of guys would prefer to not see girls in tank tops. In contrast, 21.1% of guys consider sleeveless shirts (covering the shoulders but leaving the arms bare) immodest. We can consistently see that more material on top leads to less of a problem with immodesty.

What can you wear instead of tank tops? Wool parkas, of course. No? Ok...any other (modest!) short sleeved shirt. I switched my solid colored tanks for solid color t-shirts. I have not yet died of heat stroke. :-)

Shorts! To be fair, I really like wearing cheer shorts. They're great to sleep in, and I used to wear them to work out. At the gym today, every girl that I saw wearing shorts was wearing cheer shorts. (In case you have no idea what I'm talking about, click here.) But honestly, there's no good reason to be wearing shorts like this, and there are plenty of bad ones. First of all, that's a lot of bare leg. Second, shorts don't stay perfectly in place when you run or sit. That's more bare leg. Is it necessary?

83.8% of guys who took The Modesty Survey say that shorts above mid-thigh are immodest. Yep. Also, for those of us with long legs, remember that shorts on shorter girls aren't going to hit at the same place for taller ones. In general, I think it's a good idea to aim for lower thigh, which is going to cut out a lot of the typical work-out shorts.

Solution...boy shorts! No, I'm not kidding. My running shorts are from the boys' section, and they are one of the most comfortable things I own. Guys have the right idea when it comes to shorts...long and comfortable, not short, tight, and uncomfortable like so many girl shorts. I first bought boy shorts to wear on a mission trip, and I've loved them ever since. Give it a try. I promise you won't turn into a boy.

Good news! Long shorts and skirts (knee-length-ish) are in style right now! I love this trend, since it gives a good alternative to too-short shorts and pants in the summer. Girls, use this as an excuse to go shopping. Guys, support your girls in their quest for modesty. :-)

Coming up...the swimwear edition! It's been an interesting experience for me, and I can't wait to share it with you. Keep checking back...I do promise to finish this series!

In Him,

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Closet Purging!

So...after declaring the need for a break, I ran into a week full of free time. What a blessing! Here's the post I've had on hold for awhile...and I've got another one ready to be put up in a few days! Just don't expect this new rate of posting to continue. :-)

Although it took some time, I finally got to the point of being willing to submit to God's guidance and change the way I dressed as He led. I knew some of what I needed to change, but I also needed help. PJ and I went through my closet, and he helped me to identify what I didn't need to be wearing as well as telling me why a specific item of clothing could cause problems for guys. I chose to get rid of these things instead of keeping them in my closet and being tempted to wear them.

In choosing what to keep and what to get rid of, there were a couple of basic rules that I went by. Please keep in mind that the goal of the rules was not to be legalistic but rather to establish a basic standard of modesty to which I could compare my clothing. In general: no shorts or skirts shorter than knee length and no shirts or dresses that were either strapless or had straps that did not cover the shoulders. These two standards laid out a pretty clear definition and were helpful in the closet purging.

What did I have that had to go? Tank tops, short workout shorts (cheer shorts), and dresses with thin straps. When all of these things were out of the closet, I sorted them again. If there was no way to wear them modestly, I got rid of them for good. I kept some long tank tops that are great for layering and some cheer shorts to sleep in. I still have a couple of dressy shirts that I won't wear by themselves but can be worn under something else like a cardigan.

It was hard to actually get rid of the clothes because I liked them, but I'm glad that I did. Even with the shirts that I kept to wear under other things, the temptation is still there to wear them as tank tops. If I still had all of the original clothes, it would be much more difficult to hold to the standards that I set.

Girls, remember that your beauty is powerful and is a gift. Who do you want to give the gift of your magnificent beauty to...every guy that sees you, or your husband? But what if you don't get married? Should you not worry about protecting your beauty now since you won't have someone to fully appreciate it? By no means. You are completely loved by Christ, and He will gladly accept the offering of your beauty even if He doesn't give you a husband in this life.

The following quote is one I found on The Modesty Survey in response to the question, "if you could say one thing to your sisters in Christ about modesty, what would it be?"
"Sisters in Christ, you really have no concept of the struggles that guys face on a daily basis. Please, please, please take a higher standard in the ways you dress. True, we men are responsible for our thoughts and actions before the Lord, but it is such a blessing when we know that we can spend time with our sisters in Christ, enjoying their fellowship without having to constantly be on guard against ungodly thoughts brought about by the inappropriate ways they sometimes dress. In 1 Corinthians 12 the apostle Paul presents believers as the members of one body - we have to work together. Every Christian has a special role to play in the body of Christ. That goal is to bring glory to the Savior through an obedient, unified body of believers - please don't hurt that unity by dressing in ways that may tempt your brothers in Christ to stumble."

I pray that you are blessed by his words. Look for another post coming soon!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Officially Taking a Break

Yes, I know it's been quite a while since I've posted...and it's going to be a while longer. I've actually had a draft of the next post for a few weeks, but I'm still waiting on some direction from God on what to include and how to say certain things. I'm not ready to put the next post up, but never fear, it will happen. :-)

Not to leave modesty completely out of this post...
In my statistics class, I sit with a guy who I know through one of my roommates. This past week, he came into class, and as soon as he sat down, I could tell he was in a bad mood. After the usual "hey, how's it going" small talk, he was quiet for a few minutes but then totally took me by surprise with what he said next...something to the effect of, "do you ever feel dirty just by walking around campus and everywhere you look there's a girl with a really low shirt or not a lot of clothes on?"

I wasn't quite sure how to answer this, as I don't react to seeing girls in the same way guys do. I don't feel "dirty," but I am disappointed and frustrated. I told my friend that I was sorry he had to deal with this, but I really didn't know how to make it better for him. He was also really upset by the fact that some of the things that one of his close, Christian girl friends wears cause him to struggle. He likes and respects this girl very much, but he was really upset about this issue. I was so surprised by how outwardly upset he was and that he was sharing this with me, as we're not close friends. As far as I know, he doesn't know that I blog about modesty.

Point of the story...girls, guys are frustrated by a lack of modesty, particularly with Christian girls. They're frustrated enough to vent to anyone who will listen. So girls, let's listen to them. As I've seen on t-shirts...keep on keepin' it on!

Thursday, March 8, 2007

The beginning

Hello readers!

Before I start in on more specific issues regarding modesty, I wanted to give a little bit of background on why I started pursuing different standards of modesty than the ones I previously held. My journey through this issue really started early last summer. PJ asked me to listen to a segment of Albert Mohler's radio program, which discussed modesty (and perhaps the lack thereof) in Christian weddings. In the show, Mohler discussed how Christian women often abandon their standards of modesty on their wedding day by wearing strapless gowns (more on this later!). I did not take the message well and was really resistant to talking about the issue of modesty at first.

I think that this resistance came from two sources: pride and some degree of honest ignorance as to how my clothing choices affected others. Pride was by far the biggest of the two. I had considered myself to be successful in the area of modesty, but this perceived success was based off of comparing myself to others. My basic attitude was one of, "at least I'm not dressed like her...I could be wearing worse things," instead of "how can I seek to please Jesus and honor my brothers in Christ?" This wall of pride was terribly difficult to break through. I wish that I could tell you that I reacted to discussions about modesty and PJ's questions and suggestions gracefully, but that was not at all the case. I was harsh, mean, angry, and extremely frustrating to talk to. But He gives more grace...

Throughout the summer, God really challenged me to be open to reinventing my ideas about modesty. It was not fun, and I did not want to hear from Him that I needed to change an area of my life that I had previously considered to be a finished success. Eventually, through time in the Word, much prayer, and a tremendous amount of His infinite grace and love, I was able to come to a point of being willing to change.

During this time, PJ kept gently questioning me in my beliefs about modesty. In addition to God's work in me, it was some of the discussions that PJ and I had that pushed me towards change. He told me about some of the things that I wore that caused him to struggle as well as gave me insight about how guys see and think about certain clothes that girls wear. Hearing how I had hurt him and caused countless other guys to struggle broke my heart and finally convinced me of the need for certain changes.

To be honest, had I not been in a relationship with someone that I cared so much about, I probably wouldn't have been nearly as motivated to change my habits. It was my desire to not hurt someone I loved that really prompted me to change. BUT! The need for modesty goes way beyond wanting to love and honor one person. SO...girls, if you don't have the motivation of protecting and honoring a boyfriend right now, there are still two huge reasons that I can think of to seek high standards of modesty...

  • Every guy notices what you're wearing (or not wearing). Yes, the cute guy notices. And yes, the junior high boys, the guys your dad's age, and the ones older than that notice too. Girls, you are beautiful and wonderfully made, and that gets noticed. You can't control who notices you, but you can control the temptation that you place upon them to think lustfully. Also, what sort of witness for Christ are you presenting to non-believing guys who are led to lust by your clothing choices? We must seek to honor our brothers in Christ, and we must not knowingly lead non-believers further into sin.
  • There's a good chance that you will be married one day. How much of your beauty are your saving for your husband? I have failed tremendously in this area, and it's a huge hurt that I have to deal with as I prepare to be married in a few months. I have so many regrets when I think of how much of my body has been seen by so many guys simply because I followed the world's standards in my clothing choices. I wish that I could go back and change a number of things, but that's not possible. What I can do, and what I encourage you to do, is to talk to the guys you really trust and seek to help them avoid temptation.

Girls, just a reminder...I'm not going to advocate wearing full body armor or anything equally "modest." I like to look cute too! So stay with me, pray about this issue, be open to correction, and see if God calls you to make any changes in your wardrobe.

Hopefully, I will be able to post a little more frequently and get into the specifics of what I've learned about modesty during this year. Until then...

Grace and peace,