Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My View Outside Target

Just recently a friend asked me about the clothing that the females in our family wear. Specifically about us wearing dresses and skirts quite often. The question got me to thinking back on that portion of the journey God took me on (not voluntarily, by the way :) about 5 years ago now.

Clothing...What we choose to wear, how we wear it, how much we spend on it, how much we have, and our feelings about it all is really much more important than I used to believe it was. To be honest, I’m not much of a fashion diva and I never have been. I always wanted to look nice, of course, but we never had a lot of money to spend on clothes. So from my childhood up to now I have rarely paid full price for anything and most items I do purchase are usually off the clearance rack or from my favorite thrift store. Hence, although I think I dress nicely, I would never be up for any fashion statement award.

So, the dressing journey God had me walk. How did that happen? I’m not even quite sure as I pause to think back now. It’s probably better that way. Sometimes evaluating the process too much causes me to start over-thinking the outcome and doubting, reasoning or hesitating in what I know God wanted to show me.

Faith (5) was just a few months old at the time when God just started putting thoughts in my head concerning clothing. I had been to an Above Rubies conference a few months prior and I know that a lot of women who attend wear dresses exclusively, although Nancy Campbell (the speaker) does not. That probably helped catapult my thoughts.

When I have never really questioned my choices before in a certain area, being around others who make a bold statement in the same department seems to make me rethink....or in this case, think over for the first time, the why’s, how’s and what’s of my choices.

One thing led to another and I was reading the scriptures in the Bible referencing women’s dress/behavior, searching out commentaries and reading articles online both for and against the “dresses only” conviction. Well, let me tell you, my brain went into a tailspin and my defenses went into a tizzy! I finally had to put all of that stuff down (including the Bible because of all the opposing—argumentative even—comments from Godly people on either side made it all confusing) and just cried out to God. I asked Him to reveal to me what He was wanted me to see. How He was wanting me to dress. What was important to Him. At this point I was willing to do whatever He asked of me (kind of :) but I had to be clear that it was God directed and not people’s opinion directed.

A couple of days later, I found myself outside our local Target store. Miracle of miracles, I was able to pull into a front parking slot off to the side just a bit with full view of the front doors of the store. I decided I’d nurse Faith in the van before going in.

As I sat there nursing and snuggling my little one, I began to notice the people going in and out. Gradually, I began to become more aware of the clothing that people were wearing. God slowly brought my attention to the women’s clothing in particular. Target is a pretty busy place, so there was a lot of traffic going in and out of the store. Lots to see...lots of opportunities for God to make His point to me that day.

First of all, I noticed all the women in “the uniform” as Nancy Campbell calls it—jeans and a t-shirt. WOW! I never realized just how many of us wear that ensemble day after day after day. But there they all were, parading in front of me. Jeans and t-shirt...jeans and t-shirt...jeans and t-shirt...jeans and t-shirt.... Not many blouses and although there were a fair share of capris and khakis, the majority was by far...yep, you guessed it...jeans and t-shirts.

Okay, this was getting interesting. Okay God, what else do you want me to see? The colors...drab, drab, drab....I was amazed to see so many women in browns, blacks and grays. Need I mention how tight the clothing was? If you have never really sat down and watched people in awhile, I encourage you to do so. Even if you “know” that women wear their clothing too snug, it’s another thing altogether to sit focused for an amount of time just searching through the crowds for a NOT TOO TIGHT ensemble! Tops and jeans stretched with lycra, or sadly purchased a size too small, were everywhere.

My attention was definitely grabbed at this point.

Next, I noticed this repeated “flash of flesh” that kept calling my attention, my eyes to the middle of the wearer’s body. The low-rise jeans consistently paired with the too short shirt. I never realized how--no matter the color on top or on bottom--that flash of skin tone as the person is walking just beckons your eyes to dare to look away. If it were difficult for me to do so, how much more for men.

Now my heart was beginning to be grieved.

I was now more reluctantly but resolvedly asking God to show me more. What else do you want me to learn here today God? This is hard! I don’t want to see this, I don’t want to make drastic changes, I don’t want to be different, I don’t want to stick out, I don’t want to make a fashion statement like I feel you are leading me too, I don’t want to! But...but I love you and desire to grow and mature and be changed and be broken and die to myself. So, if that includes what I wear, so be it. Show me more of what you want to teach me.

The varying age groups are what next got my attention. From little girls to older women, I was amazed to see how alike they all dressed. There were still some little ones in cutesy, girly outfits and older women dressed nicely, conservatively without tight pants (but still predominately in jeans). But I’d say the majority all looked the same. Young girls wore jeans that were too low, too tight and too far away from the tight shirt that hung above them. Older women just looked older and just plain sad, in my opinion, trying to wear outfits that were “trendy” but just didn’t work for their age or body size.

Saddest discovery of all...the girls walking by aged between 12 and 20. How sad. I don’t think I need elaborate on this much, you can imagine what my eyes witnessed.

Shortly after all of this was coming together in my thoughts, a woman came out of the store with 2 young girls, probably in their early teens. The woman wore “the uniform” and the girls were wearing too short tops and snug mini, mini skirts with large ruffles at the bottom that really swayed with each step. They were walking away from my vantage point so I had a clear view of their back sides as each stride made the skirt sway profoundly from side to side....really grabbing my attention. I believe if either of them had dropped something and had to pick it up again, I would have seen more than I could have handled at that point.

Who bought these clothes for them? Who paid the money for the girls to actually own such outfits? Who let these young ladies walk out of the house this morning dressed as harlots? Gulp...their parents!

At this point, I began to cry. I felt very grieved over what must sadden God so greatly. In fact, He actually impressed upon me that He is grieved. “In this sea of people, where are My beautiful, feminine, female creations who represent Me?”

Faith typically nursed for 30 minutes or so at a time, but this day, she nursed for over an hour! God had a point to make and He needed me to stay seated and still for the unveiling. And unveil He did! He unveiled my ignorance, my complacency, my lack of attention, my dismissal of worldly trend, my lack of concern for the minds of men.

In that entire hour I did not see ONE woman in a dress or skirt! I am not kidding you or making this up! Unless it was a short, mini type skirt...there were no skirts or dresses walking in and out of that store during that hour on that day! Again I cried...oh God; I see your grief once again.

Faith was ready to go now but I couldn’t.

I asked God repeatedly and out loud to please bring by someone, just one gal in a dress or in a skirt, dressed beautifully, femininely and modestly. Not soon after my plea, 3 ladies walked right in front of my van all wearing skirts (jean skirts ;), nice tops and tennis shoes. I almost shouted a hallelujah and amen at that point! I am not a fan of athletic shoes with skirts, as I don’t think it is a pretty look and instead takes away from a lovely appearance, but at that point I was so thrilled to see the rest of the outfits that I didn’t even mind the shoes! (I do understand that some need the foot support of such shoes).

I was worn out by the end of that hour. God showed me His grief for how woman dress today. Dressing to please, to attract, to fit in, to grab attention. They were not dressing to please Him and beautifully enhance the female body that He designed and He creatively created for each one of them.

So where has this experience brought me to today...5 years later?

We don’t keep a hard line in our home about dresses or skirts only. I know some lovely, godly women who do and many others who do not. I don’t believe that it is an issue of salvation so although I am NOT saying it is up to interpretation; I will say that there are so many interpretations given that one could get lost in the controversy and forget the purpose for consideration in the first place.

And that is the purpose of this post.

Have you purposely considered your clothing choices lately? What you wear as a Godly woman is important. It is important to God, it is important to the world who is viewing you and it should be important to you.

In our home, clothing choices are made on the basis of 3 standards—The item must be nice (not sloppy or shabby...no sweats, etc—I saw a lot of sweats & pj bottoms on my Target adventure as well!), modest (nothing tight or short, too body shaping, revealing or tops so low that would be a problem if picking something up), and feminine (not unisex style but nothing overly showy either that would draw attention to self—item choices that are girly, flowy, pretty clothes and colors). Pants, shirts, dresses or skirts...doesn't matter...they have to fit approvingly into these categories. Now, that limits me personally in what I can buy because of my body shape, but I'm okay with that. I won't wear something I'd be ashamed to meet Jesus in.

What we do here is not the point. What we each do in our own home is!

The question I feel God asking me to ask you is this...why do you dress the way that you do? Is it to “fit in” or feel good about yourself? How do you feel about your clothes? Do you have any convictions over your clothing choices? Have you talked to God lately (or ever) about what He would like to see you wearing? What about your husband?

Perhaps God is completely happy with how you dress...ask Him!

I remember a year or so back a friend began wearing skirts more as she felt the Lord lead her. She said the best fringe benefit (outside of knowing she was pleasing her heavenly Father) was the response she received from her husband! Wow! Was he ever impressed with this new wife and he began to treat her more tenderly, affectionately—opening doors, telling her how nice she looked, and more. She says she wished she had started wearing skirts long before after the reaction she got at home!

Ask God for your own “Target” experience if you need one. I know there was no way He would have been able to get my attention like He did without it.

No matter where you come down on this issue, take the time to ask Him, pray about it and see where He leads you. It could be a pleasant surprise like it was for my friend or a difficult challenge as, I admit, it was and still is for me at times. I am constantly reminded I am fleshly!

Remember to “set your heart to seek God..." and no matter where He chooses to take you, you will never be disappointed in the destination!

1 comment:

Richaard said...

First let me say I am a 50 yr old male. I have noticed "this uniform" also. I have also noticed the uniform does not change when in church.

A couple weeks ago I read a blog about a group of Christians visiting the USA for the first time. One of the first things they noticed was the flaunting of the body, by both female and and male.

A note about working in the garden - My wife wears a sarong wrapped below the knee, very cool and comfy.

Rich

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