I am going to be completely honest here. This is my journey.
It's been 2 years....2 years of fence sitting and studying, praying, talking, arguing and wavering back and forth. It's not been easy. Modesty is a word that stirs up feelings and separates friends and family. It's something I usually prefer to talk about with myself and be safe.
I have six girls. I have to choose my side. For the girls' sake I have to get off the fence.
As many of you may know I grew up in a ultra-conservative church and so you may wonder why am I even on this fence? I've wondered it myself many years so I don't blame you :)
Here is why I believe I became a fence sitter.
The Bible gives us many principles to follow. A principle is a biblical truth I need to live by. I Timothy 2:9 says "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel...." and so on. There's a principle for how I dress. Now that I know what God thinks I need a personal conviction about that principle. I should dress modestly. Next comes the standard. God did not tell me exactly what He wanted me to wear but I need to have a standard or a guideline to help me keep the conviction. Growing up I was taught the biblical principle and a standard was demanded of me. I was missing the middle step...personal conviction. For many years I looked right on the outside but my heart was lacking in conviction. I am soo glad that I did dress modestly my entire life but without conviction this standard will not last. As I got older and out on my own, my lack of conviction began to show itself as I began to question the standard. I needed personal conviction....I could no longer follow a set of rules. I needed to know all the whys. If I was floundering you can be sure my children would also flounder....that scared me. My precious girls...I needed to find out for their sake.
I started reading but most of the books on modesty were written many years ago and did not address the questions and arguments I had banging around in my mind. I decided the standard I grew up with was old fashioned and unnecessary. I climbed the fence and stuck one leg over on the other side. I began to wear capris and then I tried a 3 month experiment with pants. It greatly affected my oldest girl. I will never forget her face when she saw me in jeans for the first time. "But," I reasoned," I know many godly ladies who have a greater relationship with God then I do and look what they wear...I can do this. I don't want to be a hypocrite" I continued this way for 3 months. The affect it had on my children was unbelievable and everyday my heart hurt....I had to figure this out!
At this point I'm sure you can tell that I really wasn't open to doing what was best but doing what I wanted and trying to find a good enough reason to excuse myself. TJ was my sounding board :) I am living under grace and I have liberty in Christ....yes I used those reasons but still somehow it just didn't seem to work for me no matter how many times I said those words to myself....GRACE...LIBERTY.
After my 3 month trial period I felt that wearing pants was not something I could do at this moment in my life...maybe later after my girls had grown and left home. However capris were an amazing solution for playing, riding bikes and what could be wrong with that? Soo we all wore them and I justified it in my mind. I still had no peace. I was still on the fence..it was not comfortable.
I bought a book from our church bookstore called Broad is the Way Fundamentalists Merging into the Evangelical Mainstream written by David Sorenson. The Lord began to work.
Deuteronomy 5:29 "O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it may be well with them, and with their children for ever!"
The book brought that verse to my attention and at first the Lord used it to encourage me in homeschooling but over the next weeks He began to use this very same verse to challenge me about a dress standard. I was concerned for my children wasn't I? This verse showed me how I could do the very best for my children....did I want it to be well for them? wasn't that my heart's cry? The Lord spoke very gently and said "Heidi....your heart. You need to settle things once and for all...you need to draw a line and stand. Fear me....you know what would please me, do that! Keep my commandments...teach them to your children....get a hold of their hearts and then it will be well for them. You will give them all the tools they need in their toolbox for a happy full life....that it may be well for them! Don't just demand obedience to a set of rules...teach them to love God, show them the Biblical principles God has clearly written...." For the first time in many years I felt challenged, I felt convicted and finally I began to find the answers to all those questions rolling around in my mind.
I continued reading this book...it was challenging, convicting and a heart changer for me and that's what I needed. My heart needed to change, I needed personal conviction. More verses began to take on a whole new meaning to me. Titus 2:11-12 was another stand-out passage. Here I learned and could see for the first time that grace wasn't an excuse to live the way I wanted to.....BUT actually grace is what teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts...living in the age of grace is actually a call to live holier than before not less!
Another book by R.B. Ouellette called Things That Aren't So was another instrument God used. This author addressed many issues we face in the modern age....finally some answers to the reasoning of the present age that I never could find in any other book I had read in my searching. Is it legalistic to have standards? and does God care only about the heart? were 2 big questions that were dissected. This author took me through the common reasoning out there that I had picked up on and showed me using Scripture how faulty they were. Finally I began to see what God was trying to teach me. It does matter....it matters to HIM!
....to be continued.