Sunday, May 18, 2008

Susan's Musin's - Journey Into Modesty (aka: I'm So Vain, I Bet This Blog Post Is About Me)

Some of you who have known me for years have already seen or will be seeing in the blog pictures a change in my manner of dress. So I thought I would write a bit about the thought and heart condition change process God has brought me through regarding that.

There are many verses in the Bible instructing women as to how they should conduct themselves in all areas of their lives. To be honest, growing up I didn't really pay much attention to that instruction. As long as I was a nice person and didn't dress like a floozy, I thought I was fine. But as I have studied those scriptures over time, the Holy Spirit has convicted and shown me how to live my life as a Christian woman, more Biblically correct and honoring to God.

I'm going to focus only on modesty in this post and will try to keep it brief. 1 Timothy 2:9-10 states: "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided (plaited) hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array. But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works."

Ahhhh, that word is adorn myself, NOT adore myself......

Okay, so then I looked up the definitions of the main descriptive words in that scripture from the Noah Webster 1828 Dictionary:

Modesty: In females, modesty has the like character as in males; but the word is used also as synonymous with chastity, or purity of manners. In this sense, modesty results from purity of mind, or from the fear of disgrace and ignominy fortified by education and principle. Unaffected modesty is the sweetest charm of female excellence, the richest gem in the diadem of their honor.

Shamefacedness: Bashfulness; excess of modesty.

Sobriety: Seriousness; gravity without sadness or melancholy.

Costly: Of a high price; sumptuous; expensive; purchased at a great expense; as a costly habit

I also looked up these words in the modern Webster dictionary where many original meanings of words have been lost. However, it was fairly consistent with the 1828 dictionary intermingling definitions of these words with "pure, chaste, decent, shy, clean, spotless, freedom from conceit or vanity, severely simple in design or execution, free from ALL taint of what is lewd or salicious".

So in a nutshell, I as a Christian woman am clearly instructed in the Bible to wear (severely) simple, modest clothing (sending a message of chastity, purity) emphasized by shamefacedness (an excess of the aformentioned chastity and purity) and sobriety (to be steadfast and consistent in sending this message) by the clothes and other items I wear outwardly. I'm also not to focus on bringing attention to myself through lots of jewelry or "bling", fancy or expensive clothing but to keep things simple, pure and unassuming. My main focus is to take the attention off of my physical person and live my life in obedience to God so the fruit of my salvation brings glory to and points people to God.

Okay, so now I had to take these definitions and lay them across my wardrobe to see if there was a "fit". Well, if I was totally honest with myself, I would say my clothes, as modest as I thought they were, still stated "Hey, HEY! look at me", "Do you think I have a cute figure?", "Isn't this outfit cool?", "I'm very proud of the way I look", "Even though I'm married I still need to stay 'competitive' with the women in the world so my husband's eyes won't wander". It was very humbling and convicting. I also noticed that my wardrobe just wasn't very "feminine". I rarely wore dresses except to weddings and maybe a special occasion here and there. Otherwise, it was sweats, shorts, pants, pant suits, etc. I think society defines femininity as "tighter" pants and "tighter" shirts, etc.; but the Bible clearly teaches something different. God is very clear in the Bible that He made men and women completely different with different roles. And women are to look completely different from men as well.

Well, as hard as my flesh fought it I knew I had to make some pretty big changes. And I knew this newfound knowledge didn't now give me license to "let myself go", become a slob or not be presentable. I was even more accountable to God to represent Him in the world as one of His children. So over time I started buying and wearing inexpensive, simple, longer skirts and dresses, not showy or clingy but .......modest! And I have to tell you even though my flesh struggles, in my spirit there is a sense of peace and rightness because I know this is how the Bible has instructed me to present myself as a Christian woman. And you would think I would have become pretty invisible to the world; but I have discovered that my conservative manner of dress is very noticeable to the world, and they sense something different about me. I was not instructed by God to adorn myself with clothes to fit in with the world or so the world would be attracted to me but to adorn myself with modesty and obedience to His word to point them to Him. So it's not all about me after all - who knew??!!!

The scary thing to me is that I was totally unaware of how my conduct and dress was an act of rebellion and disobedience to God, and I didn't even realize it. I'm so grateful to Him for opening my eyes to it and giving me a desire to study it, repent and make the necessary changes.

Susan

8 comments:

The Ante Family said...

Susan,
Thanks for sharing your conversion over to a more modest dress. Well put into the struggles, but reward of putting down our flesh and obeying His word.
Peace, Kris

Danielle said...

Well said Susan. The struggles seem unbearable sometimes but the joys are everlasting. Great post! Cute title and label.

Tabletop Homestead said...

Susan,

I very much enjoyed this post along with Michael's comments on it at Process Driven Life. A thought occurred to me: Maybe you two could collaborate on a post illustrating with pictures modest vs. not-so-modest. His 1-10 scale got me thinking that there were few visual illustrations online outside traditional Amish dresses to help guide ladies in their clothing choices.

Judy

David & Susan Sifford said...

Thank all of you ladies for your encouraging comments.

Judy,

I spoke with my husband about your request and he had some helpful comments. I, too, would love to have a more defined visual of what exactly are the stages of 1-10 of women's dress. But since the Holy Spirit is continually teaching, growing and convicting us on these things, a 5 on today's scale may be a 3 on tomorrow's scale. It is ever changing as the Holy Spirit is ever changing us. So I suppose the best thing to do for each of us is honestly ask God to help us understand and be willing to change as the Holy Spirit leads and convicts us according to the Bible. Thank you again!

Tabletop Homestead said...

Ah, I see the point. I think your husband has given us the wisest course. :)

Judy

Darelina said...

This was a great post. I struggle with the flesh in this area too. I grew up as that "t-shirt and blue jeans" kinda gal. A "tomboy". So... foregoing pants for skirts has been a very, very big struggle for me. But, I have bigger issues than this... ugh! The Lord is patient with me though! I'm new to your blog. Hope you'll visit me. www.darelinagreen.blogspot.com

David & Susan Sifford said...

Hello Darelina!

I'm thankful our blog has been an encouragement to you. I appreciate your comments and pray for God's graces and mercies upon you as you seek to be obedient to Him in your life. I enjoyed looking through your blog and appreciate a lot of the information you have posted. Thanks again!

Susan

April Bauer said...

Susan,
I just wanted to say that I had the same insight from the Lord very recently as well. I have always dressed my girls in dresses (they prefer them & the longer the better), but I always held back. Well, I finally took the plunge & I actually feel prettier since leaving my pants behind. Two days ago I did wear a pair (we stayed home because I hurt myself) & one girl asked why I wasn't in a dress. I was so happy that she was not pleased with my outfit & I honesty wasn't either. Isn't our God so great to us!! April