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To Be or Not to Be

As I was sitting in the library in Wausau on Wednesday, I was watching a family play in the kids play area. There was the mom, dad and 6 kids. The mom and the 5 daughters had long hair and dresses on. You could tell they were “different.” The mother, pregnant with their 7th child, was busily stacking books nearby . The dad sat there watching them all with a kind of discontented look on his face. Of course I couldn’t tell what was going through his mind, but by looking at the face of his wife, I got the impression that he was the family watch dog – the one that made sure everyone “toed the line.”

It got me thinking.

For the past 9 years I’ve felt that if I looked the part then I did my duty to show the world that Christians were set apart, you know, somehow by my outward appearance others should “see” my devotion to Christ. I felt it was expected of me, a pastor’s wife – expected by everyone around me. Even though I never held that conviction that God wanted me to be in a skirt all the time, I did feel that compulsion to be in a skirt in case someone in our ministry saw me. After all, I was supposed to be the example, right?

It is true we need to be set apart. When others see us, they need to see Christ. We might be the only Bible they read, so we need to make it a good read.  But does it stop at a skirt? Does it begin with a skirt?  I began to think about my own reasoning for wearing skirts in public. Why did I do this? What was my motivation? Well, partly, I did it because my pastor at the time, who was also my boss, expected it of me. That’s a good enough answer, I think. But really, it’s more than that. If I could step into a room and immediately show who I was, who I represented, then I was a step ahead of the game. But really, was I? Taking time to think about it, I realized that those of us who chose to step out and be different in our dress probably used it as a crutch.

Let me explain.

If I walk into a room and immediately everyone around can see I’m different, then perhaps I don’t have to try so hard to make an impression in any another way. It kind of lets me off the hook. I look the part, so I can stop there. Everyone in the room saw that woman was probably a member of a church. It was a given. So, her job was done even before she opened her mouth. But really, was it? If our job is done in one glance, then perhaps we don’t have to try so hard from that moment on.

On the other hand, if I walk into a room with average, every day clothing on, then I have to make a genuine, outward effort to make a difference in the world around me through my actions. That places a tremendous burden on me. Do I want to take on that burden? Or do I want to have the statement of my clothing to do it for me? What would God prefer? Would he prefer me to walk into a room and be done with my responsibility? Or would He want me to work at it all day long? Do I want to be the person who goes through my day assured everyone knows who I am just by looking at me, or do I want to be the person who goes through my day proving Christ by how I love others? I’m thinking I’d rather look like everyone else (well, the decent, modestly dressed ones, that is) and show them I’m just like them with something more … Someone more, who will change their lives as He has changed mine. If I look like everyone else, but prove I’m not through the love and caring that He has given me, then maybe I’ll be more approachable, easier to get to know and they’ll feel more comfortable around me – comfortable enough to start a dialogue and hear what makes me different – Who makes me different.

I have been in ministries where there is the facade of holiness. But underneath all that glittered and shined was an unforgiving heart, a judgmental attitude and a general sense of prideful arrogance. I would much rather fade into the woodwork in appearance so I’m out of the way – then I can point others to Christ because they can see Him through His love that pours through me.

If you see me out and about, I’ll not be the one who looks different. I’ll be the one who IS different.

“To be or not to be, that is the question.”

What is your answer?

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6 Responses

  1. I have never thought of a lady in a dress or skirt as a church goer or a Christian. There are many women who prefer skirts. There are many churches who don’t really care what their people wear. I only wear skirts, and I have never thought it a crutch to people thinking I am a Christian!
    I just figure most people think I am crazy! 🙂
    But I have had more people comment on how nice it is to see a lady in a skirt, looking like a lady!
    HA HA HA They do not know who they are talking to!

  2. When I see a skirt, that’s the first thing I think – there’s another Christian, and it causes me to feel a kinship with them immediately. But it’s always a disappointment when it ends there. You don’t choose to wear a skirt because you like them. You wear them out of obedience, and that’s good and right. I did too. The crutch I was referring to was when a woman thinks they’ve done their duty by declaring right off the bat that they’re a Christian and use it to alleviate any pressure to BE different. It’s an arrogant pride that many Christians wear. I do not want to be guilty of that. Though it may feel uncomfortable, I always want to feel the pressure to show my faith in more than clothing. As far as your comment, “They do not know who they are talking to,” the truth is, when they talk to you, they are talking to one of the most loving, loyal Christians I’ve ever been fortunate enough to call “friend.” Love you, Jamie!

  3. I would have to say I agree with the content you wrote fully Mom. Maybe that could go hand-in-hand with the ‘lackadaisical Christian’ mentality too. I began to look at the whole entire skirt issue sorta as a Christian’s ‘shield’ so-to-say. It’s all about CHRIST not us. Just because we are a Christian doesn’t mean that we are fully separated unless we make that conscious connection from within and so thus, just because we wear skirts or not also doesn’t make us better Christians. Since I was a child and having always grown up in church what was mostly emphasized is that what’s in the heart will eventually come out thus one must never ever judge a person based on their outer apparel/appearance.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Mom, I’m definitely in agreement with you.

  4. I guess I need to clarify that I’m not criticizing those who wear skirts because of their faith – I too wear skirts out in public. I just wanted to share what the Lord gave me in regard to our motivation, my motivation. I want to be more conscious of why I do something. To be prideful because I’m presenting myself for praise of man, approval, or adoration, is sin. My goal is to be different in all areas – and to get myself out of the way so God can work. It’s not about me – it’s all about Him.

    Personally, I think women look better in skirts – definitely slimmer! It’s the thin girls that can get away with more! VBG

  5. When you see someone carrying a Bible – do you immediately think of them as a Christian? Or do you wonder if they are a Christian, maybe they are Methodist. (I would have said Catholic, but they don’t usually have Bibles).
    After I stopped and thought all day on what I really think when I see a woman in a skirt, I might question whether or not they are a Christian – but then I will observe them! We were brought up differently!
    Now I wonder what people really think when they see me in a skirt – chances are – they think nothing!
    Chances are – I don’t care.
    You humble me in a way that brings tears to my eyes! You are way to kind Val! Love ya back!

  6. I find it so amazing that we are so different, but the same.

    Either way, you make me laugh and it is refreshing. I just love to hear your perspective!

    But, your statement “I might question whether or not they are a Christian – but then I will observe them!” does bring on discussion. We ought to feel compelled to carry out our “skirt statement” and show the world what a Christian is like. It should not end there with the attitude, “Well, look at me, obviously I got it together! Enough said!” Nope. Not enough said. We cannot wear our skirts as a self-righteous statement of our spiritual maturity. Skirts are just clothing – nothing more. Take that away, and we have to prove who we are by BEING different. KWIM?

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