my thoughts on modesty, part one

Modesty is a topic that includes several areas to explore, in thought.

I am a lady. I see things from a believing female point of view, and was raised by certain parents, in a certain area of this country, & came to believe in The Lord Yeshua as my own Redeemer & Lord, some years ago, through understanding that I was much in need of a Saviour / Deliverer from the penalty I deserved, from The Lord, for my sins and iniquities.

So, this post is written from what I have learned, so far, in my “walk” (life path) with The Lord, through some side roads I’ve taken, though not knowingly, at the time each ‘turn’ was taken.

This is also written from my own personal convictions which I believe God’s Holy Spirit has given me, to apply to my own life.

This is not written to condemn anyone, or to sound as if I know more than most, or many. It is also not written as if I were some authority on this topic.

It is merely my understanding, from the level of understanding I am at, now, … on the topic that most (in general) call “modesty.”

Modesty is a matter of the heart. Our hearts motivate us. I would generally refer to ‘the term’ *heart* as my mind. It can refer to other areas of my soul, in some cases, but for this article (which may be written in several portions), I am referring to “the mind,” when I used the word “heart.”

Modesty is something most children naturally have. Some demonstrate this in appearing to be somewhat shy, in what they do in public, or among strangers. Some demonstrate it even among their own family members, when they are dressing or … bathing.

Some ways most ladies (and men) demonstrate modesty are seen in:

(1) how they clothe themselves, and

(2) how ladies use “accessories” such as jewelry or make-up, as well as

(3) how they adorn or arrange their hair, including how long it may be worn.

(4) how they speak with others, or with whom they may initiate a conversation, or how they respond to strangers.

Much of the language I will use will refer mainly to ladies, women. That is because this is my focus, for the sake of this article.

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Modesty is something The Lord has been teaching me about over many years. He began when I was around age 5 or 6, when I first became aware that my dresses my mom had sewn for me … as I wore some to the government school I attended, … had to be pulled down, to keep them “long enough” to cover my knees while sitting down. The short length of my dresses and skirts or jumpers made it difficult to sit, for long, in a school-desk type seat (made of hard wood or hard plastic), without feeling like someone was looking in my direction.

I did not realize it, at the time, but these were (I believe) some of the first signs of God’s Holy Spirit making me aware that how I dress does, indeed, have an effect on others. He was making me aware that I should “do something” about making the whole experience “decent” and “honorable” for both them and me.

While young, I was not the one choosing my clothing. (just so you know)

When I was 11, my mom began letting me learn to sew, a little at a time. Soon, I was able to read a sewing pattern well enough to sew some of my own clothes. It became easier, over a few years’ time, so I sewed a good number of clothes for myself, during that time, being allowed by my mom to choose patterns (styles of clothing I liked), fabrics and colors I liked, at the time.

As I was choosing patterns to use to sew garments to wear, I was becoming aware of what “covered the body” more and what did not. I believe, though am not sure I was aware of all that The Lord wanted me to learn from this process, that He was teaching me, in it, … to choose more modest clothing, as the years progressed.

After I finished high school, and began some college training, I continued to sew garments for myself. Once I had met my future husband, and our parents gave their consent for us to be married the following year, I decided to sew my own wedding dress. That was fun to do. It cost only about $50 for the entire garment! (I really like “a great deal,” financially speaking. Am a frugal thinker.) Found out it is not very hard to sew a wedding dress. I had chosen a design I liked very much, and yet, I kept things simple, in how I wanted the final wedding gown to look.

So, perhaps others would spend much more in sewing their own wedding dress, nowadays, but I believe I could show a young lady how she could spend much less, and still be happy with what she wanted “after” she’s done with sewing it.  I could even teach her how to sew, to accomplish making her own wedding dress. But the final decision is hers, as it was mine, over 30 years ago. (by the way, my parents gave me permission to make these choices myself)

After some more years went by, and God, each day, was still faithfully teaching me more and more about dressing more modestly, … the styles of clothing I was choosing to wear began to change, again.

I had been raised to think that girls and young ladies wearing “pants” (girls’ style pants, they were called) was okay, even approved. I’d wear dresses, or jumpers, or skirts & blouses to church, or ladies’ style “suits,” with jackets and skirts, plus a blouse, to church, … but we were allowed to wear pants to middle- and high-school. And, we (the under-19 ladies I observed) might wear shorts in hot weather, in public places, or while riding bicycles on neighborhood streets and public roads (for all to see). Yes, I could hear The Holy Spirit talkin’ to me, at times. Did I always listen (?)  and make the right response? No. (… I regret to say)

Though a parent may approve of a certain style of clothing as acceptable, or even okay, or good, or “just fine,” that does not mean that our Heavenly Father fully approves of it. My Lord was building within me a different, set-apart understanding of what “modesty” means.

I have left out a lot of details, so (if you want more details, I plan to write more about this topic in a second article, on this blog / journal / newsletter to ladies) please bear with me.

Am speaking somewhat in general, just to introduce this topic, of modesty, because I must make you aware of at least some of my background, to help you better understand “some things, from my past,” that had an affect on my thinking, and influenced me, even as The Lord was at work, in my spirit, teaching me about modesty, by His Holy Spirit’s methods.

God is able to use most anything to teach us, His children, what important truths He wants us, each, to know, and live by. He knows how to do it in a way that He blesses and will benefit us, by how He does it. He has been amazingly merciful, loving and patient with me!

In my own life, He used my family, my relatives, school “dress codes,” fashions being promoted during my years of life from age 11 to 18+, and the media, as well as my own heart, to let me learn lessons He wanted me to learn.

I must say that not all “those” things I have named had a positive effect on me. Not all of those influences in my life led me to do what glorifies God.

And that is why I write this post, here. To help someone else, so they will make wise decisions, and not have regrets, later in life.

Some would say even my personality profile affected the choices I made, in clothing. But God is so rich in Mercy, and so Patient in teaching us, … He helped me along, on His Path of Life in a Loving and Gentle way, never pushing me, or fussing at me. Just talkin’ with me in my heart and working in my spirit to lead me along to a better “place” of understanding, which has brought me much Peace. Thank You, Lord!!

He wanted me to learn to do things in a way that *He* calls modest, as it relates to how a lady clothes / covers her body, both in public and at home!

He wanted me to learn it well, so I could pass on the truths He was teaching me to my own daughters, after He let me get married.

And He has used the lessons, mistakes, disasters and good examples He provided to guide me, so I would be prepared to help my daughters along, … once they were born.

And He has been faithfully continuing to teach me more lessons, since then.

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* http://helpnotes.blogspot.com/2008/01/modest-clothing-links-from-jan-8-2008.html

The link just above here will take you to an “article” I wrote on a blog (not this one; I copied it here, though) I began before this one, for another purpose — it is meant to benefit moms who home educate their children, for The Lord’s purposes. The dates on it may seem a bit odd, but I had copied it from another blog I had shared this article on, … when I chose to delete that other blog. You may wish to read more using this link, on the topic of modesty, before reading any more here.

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… continuing on, here …

If modesty is, indeed, an issue (a matter) of the heart, then each of us, as ladies, must decide what kind of “heart attitude” we want others to “see” when they see us. This includes our own personal family members.

Our decisions will also be somewhat affected by our age, and our weight, and our body “type.” But I am speaking only of the overall issue, topic, of modesty.

If I wish to give others the impression that I am a happy-I-belong-to-Jesus (The Lord Almighty, God’s Son), then I should dress my body in a way that I truly believe *He* would be pleased to see, with His Pure, Holy Eyes.

That’s my personal belief. No one had taught me this, on earth, while I was growing up. I was, however, taught that when we “are getting ready” to go to our family’s congregation we fellowship with, for worship, each week, we should “dress in our best” for The Lord. Maybe that was one lesson along the road on which my Lord put me.

If modesty is important enough that parents “do” discuss it, and if dads “do” care about what their daughters “dress like,”  then some moms may, before their children reach the age of 12, wish to find  some older, God-honoring, believing moms, and begin to learn from them some reasons “why” those older moms dress more modestly than “some” other, younger moms dress.

I believe the older moms would share some history, from their own lives, or from the lives of other ladies “who regret” wrong decisions they made in the past, which would explain “how” they came to “see modesty” as they now see it.

I believe it is important for moms and dads to consider these issues especially when children are moving from being “little children” to “older children” to becoming “young adults.”  If our children do not gain wisdom from us, as their parents, they will seek it from others. That can be devastating for our children!

This is an important issue! The next generation *will* be affected by our example leading the young ladies to dress in a way that covers them “more modestly,” or in a way that does not.  (we must decide, now, what will we do about this issue)

I was very much affected by all the influences in my life — home life, and standards, friends, “school life,” ladies at churches I attended, and relatives, as well as printed & visual media (including magazines and movies), and images in books I was exposed to or that I chose to read or look at.

What influences do we want our young girls, our older girls, and our young ladies, and single ladies we care about, to have in their lives, as they grow as believers in The Lord Jesus (Yeshua)?

What kinds of thoughts do we want men, young or old, even boys (even our own sons), to be thinking when they see us, in public, at a fellowship meeting of believers, or at home?

Do we realize how men and boys are affected by how women clothe, and cover, themselves?

Do we have to dress like ladies from another century, or like frumps, to be clothing our bodies modestly?  (of course not!)

Do we have to look like we’re wearing sacks, or we’re fat women, or wear loose clothing that looks too large for us, in order to be dressing in a way that pleases The Lord?  (If I clothe myself in clothing that looks that way, it is probably more a problem of my not taking time to work on my physical fitness as I could.)

Does it make sense to study the culture in the time of Yeshua, or before that, to get ideas about what God seemed to approve of, among His people Israel, … as far as what we can find, to learn from?

Would that mean we should dress like women dressed in Bible times? Or can we find ways to adapt that mode of clothing oneself to our day and time?

Are there ways I can clothe myself modestly, without looking “olde-fashioned?” Do I need to fit in with the culture in which I now live?

What will my husband think? — my dad? — my brother(s)? — my friends? (ladies) — my casual acquaintances? (men, if I were single) — my pastor? — his wife? — my neighbors? (yes, they do look at ladies when they are at home and can be seen) — other folks who see me in public? — my business associates? (if I am in business of some kind)

How should I approach changing how I clothe my body? Can I make changes gradually? Will my family think we have to dress like Laura Ingalls and the ladies / girls in her family dressed, in the late 1800s?

How can I wisely discern the best way for me to clothe myself modestly??!

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God does have plenty of answers and wise guidance for us to glean from! Ultimately, each of us must decide how we should clothe ourselves in modest apparel. We will each be held accountable, responsible, for how we did clothe ourselves, when we see Jesus (Yeshua) face to Face.

Therefore, we show wisdom if we choose to learn about ways we can deal with this issue of modesty, so that we can “get on” with our lives, and not be “caught up” in the world’s plan to pull us toward its magnet of “fashion” and “style” and “keeping up with trends.”

Fashions change, according to what fashion designers wish to achieve (often, they are in other countries than our own), and according to styles and trends *they* want to “bring in” or have an affect on. Their designs and styles and trends these influential people develop come from their basic beliefs and values about life, their own standards, and from their beliefs / views about God. What they believe (and how they were raised; and some events / experiences from their own, personal past or childhood) will affect the standards they use as they develop clothing designs, that you may later see in clothing stores in the U.S.

If you do not sew, you will be limited to which pre-made clothing is available in stores in your area, or online. It will help you to learn to sew, first of all. That offers you more choices that will be modest, by design (your design). Even if you use a pattern company’s patterns / styles, for sewing your own clothing, you still have much freedom, with some sewing experience, to alter the style so that your garment will turn out more modest looking.  In this way, your sewn garment will meet the standards you believe The Lord would have you live by.

For those who do not sew clothing for themselves, take heart. God has provided modest clothing through others who sell it at consignment shops and at thrift stores, as well as through church clothing giveaways, and yard sales. (in the U.S.)  (note:  our family has found, through frequenting these types of places, that many others do take good care of their clothing, and then, they share it with those of us who cannot, otherwise, afford to buy the garments “at retail prices” in some department store or similar retail outlet)

Rest assured: God has your best benefit in mind! He knows you! He knows what you want, and what you like! (in clothing)

He also knows what He wants and likes. He will guide you. He won’t take anything good from you! He will offer you more options than you may have imagined, when you began pondering this topic! Just follow Him. You can trust Him. He is the first clothing designer — in the Garden of Eden. He made clothing for Adam and Eve (out of sheep’s skins, which YHVH God, Himself, must have killed, … unless He had Adam do the killing part), when that became necessary, due to their rebellion against what He had told them both He wanted them to do.

I will continue this in the second part of “my thoughts on modesty.”

(for those who were hoping I would share Bible verses to support what I am, or will, share, those will be shared in the second part)

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