Jumping On The Modesty Bandwagon

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For months, probably years, I have been watching blogs on the subject of modesty being posted and re-posted countless times.  It’s amazing the feedback these types of subjects elicit!  One thing for sure, writing on a subject such as modesty will bring countless strong reactions — both in the positive sense and in the negative sense.  Interesting to me that it does bring such a strong reaction — compared to other subjects.

So, why am I jumping on the bandwagon over this discussion?  Am I crazy?!!!

To tell you the truth, I have no desire to try to give details or definitions on modesty.  Really, that is a personal issue between each individual and God.  Before God, I know what I feel is right for me, but I recognize that my personal convictions may be different than someone else’.  I accept that.

My purpose in writing about this subject is from a different stand-point.  I see how so many people are reacting to those who try to establish some accountability for guys and girls over this subject.  Some readers feel that by addressing the girls, it means all responsibility is being placed on the girl’s shoulders for the purity of guys.  Some readers feel that purity should all be on the guys — that they just need to guard their eyes more and stop lusting.

I though propose that neither is correct –– not fully that is.  No, I am not trying to point fingers or participate in the blame-game.  Too much of that happens already.

Rather, I want to address the root issue here.  The issue that has always been at the root of pretty much most sins.  The root of selfishness and not taking personal responsibility for one’s own actions.  The root of pride.  This is what leads to the blame-game.  This is what leads to dishonoring ourselves and those around us through our attitudes, actions, and thoughts.

The issue of modesty isn’t about definitions, measurements, rules, regulations, etc…  It’s about a heart issue.  It’s about understanding that I am created with dignity and honor.   In light of that, I should treat my body with respect.

It is understanding that others have also been created with just as much dignity and honor so I should treat them with respect by the way I dress around them and by the way I treat them or view them.

It is understanding that with greater honor comes greater responsibility.  I am responsible to God for the way I treat myself and others.  It means I cannot blame others for problems that involve me.  It means that I must take responsibility for my own actions or that which applies to me. 

In other words, as a woman, I recognize my value and dress with value.  I dress in a way that honors the guys around me and does not intentionally cause them to stumble.   This does not mean I am responsible for how they react but for my own “message” that I am creating by the way I dress.  Do I dress in a way that honors and shows respect for myself and those who view me?

As a man, this means I am to understand that I am created with honor and dignity and do not need to act like a “dog in heat.”  I can guard my eyes and my thoughts.  It may be extra challenging these days, but I am accountable for how I respond to temptations that come my way.  It means that I must be “man enough” to own up to my own actions, attitudes, and thoughts.  It also means that I treat the women around me with respect because of who they have been created to be.

This also means that out of a heart of love and respect, we understand the inherit weaknesses of the opposite gender. 

Women want to be loved and seek it, though sometimes in the wrong ways.  Their seeking attention, even sexual attention, is often out of a lack of self-worth and from a need to feel “loved.”  Though their understanding of the meaning of “love” might be flawed; the motivation stems from a true and good need.

Men are hard-wired visually to be attracted to the opposite gender.  Their raw reaction is to then pursue the one they find appealing.  Of course, in a loving application of this, it means the guy is attracted to the girl, appropriately pursues her with respect, and then commits himself to her protection, provision, and the nurturing of her.

The weaknesses are demonstrated in a girl being vulnerable to seeking feelings of love and self-worth from the wrong sources.  In a guy, they are demonstrated in his ability to find easy sexual gratification through visual stimulation without any commitment to the object(s) of his lust.

Thus, we have today’s moral challenge.  How do we act in a way that is honoring of both genders and take responsibility for our own actions while walking in the freedom Christ has given us?  In other words, legalism is not the answer here.  It’s not about definitions or detailed descriptions of what is modest and what isn’t.  It’s about a heart that asks humbly before God, in what areas am I possibly dishonoring myself and that of the opposite gender?  It’s taking responsibility for my own actions, attitudes, and thoughts.  It is then viewing the opposite gender with honor and with selflessness, recognizing that we each have a responsibility in this issue.

The dilemma of moral purity (modesty) doesn’t lie with one gender.  It hinges on both. 

The challenge is for both genders to take full responsibility in walking in honor towards themselves and towards each other.  The question is, “Will you and I with courage accept the challenge?”

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The “Mompetitor”

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How many of us know a mom who seems to always be talking about the latest achievements of her children?  Words.  Words. Words.  Brag.  Brag.  Brag.  Our response?  We often either pity her, condemn her, or compare ourselves to her.

I remember as a young mom with two toddlers and a baby, feeling very frustrated that my kids weren’t learning their colors, shapes, alphabet, and numbers like my friends’ kids.  I remember feeling like a bad mom or somehow that I must be not doing something correctly because my boys weren’t potty-trained or reading when my friends’ kids were.  Maybe, my kids had inherited a slow gene or maybe I just hadn’t pushed them hard enough.  Sigh.

I knew I read to my kids — read to my first-born when he was a wee babe and had no idea what mommy was doing with that object in her hands.  He liked reading — more because of the cuddle time with mommy and hearing his mommy’s voice.  I really don’t think that my reading made a huge educational impression at that point in his three months of life.  What did make an impression was the interaction I had with him, teaching him about security, love, kindness, and how love is an investment of time.

Then, I’ve found myself listening to other young moms talking about their kids and then wanting to chime right in with my own comparisons or not just wanting to but doing it.  I’ve walked away from those conversations, convicted by my own pride and selfishness.

I’ve then had to ask myself, “Why did I feel the need to compare or to do my own bragging?”  Suddenly, I understand the hearts behind the bragging moms or “Mompetitors.”  Insecurity.  Fear.  Depression.  Those fears stem from wondering if you are doing it right — if your kids will be failures because you didn’t give them everything at just the right moment and in the right proportions.  It’s the pressure of perfection.  The unending voices that we listen to that tell us we should be parenting this way or that way or another way.

The results?  Instability.  Insecurity.  Anger towards ourselves and even our children because they don’t measure up to our standards of perfection.

Exaggeration?  No!  I think one of the greatest dangers of motherhood are our unreasonable expectations and comparing ourselves and our kids to others.  It’s looking around us too much for our sense of well-being and affirmation as mothers and for help with raising our kids.  Oh, help can be great — true help!  The problem is we are too quick to follow the latest advice and trends on the social market.  We are too quick to compare our kids to Susie and Johnny “who do everything perfectly and are advanced in every area.”  We are too quick to try to fit ourselves into the personalities and gifts of others. 

We want to be Pinterest-perfect in our creativity, organization-skills, and decorating.  We want to be able to sew like an expert and cook like a chef with a Master’s degree.  We read the blogs, and every blogger seems to be much prettier, smarter, more articulate, and wiser than us.  Compare.  Compare.  Compare.

If we homeschool, we find a mom who is more organized than us.  Or we find one who is less so we can condemn her and somehow feel better about ourselves in the process.

I recently bought a book off Amazon — thanks to a B’day gift card I had received.  The book is called Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson.  The book has been amazing and just the book I so desperately (no pun intended) needed to read!  I have under-lined paragraphs, written exclamation marks, starred pages, and written “Amens” all over this book.

I think some of the thoughts that have stood out to me the most were the advice to give more grace to ourselves and our kids, to not compare, to accept how God uniquely created me and my kids, and to not follow everyone else’s advice.  This doesn’t mean we don’t listen to godly advice, but the key is godly — finding the right person to listen to — not just anyone and everyone.  There are so many voices — too many is the problem.  There is only One voice we really must heed: that of the Lord’s.  The beauty of it is that He created us and loves us unconditionally, in spite of our failures and imperfections.  He is not sitting up in Heaven with a great big paddle, waiting for us to mess up so he can take pleasure in exerting His God muscles in punishing us.  Sad how we get these twisted perspectives due to our own imperfect “lenses” from which we view everything and everyone, including God.

I recently experienced a situation at church where I felt condemnation.  I believe the individual thought that they had me, my husband, and our kids all figured out.  The problem is they don’t.  We aren’t like certain other families.  Church doesn’t give the full picture into our lives.  Oh, there are basic principles to parenting, but there are also so many variations — variations because we are uniquely designed individuals and families! 

I remember the smug feelings I had before becoming a mom.  I thought I knew all about parenting due to training, classes, experiences I had.  The problem with that is you don’t really know about parenting until you become a parent yourself and even then, that doesn’t make you an expert on other people’s lives. 

I know that a lot of people are simply trying to help and there is good advice out there.  The problem, young moms, is that there is too much — too much advice, too many voices.  We can become so concerned about pleasing everyone out there that we miss the whole point of our own calling.  Motherhood isn’t about pleasing everyone else.  In fact, you never will please everyone else so you might as well forget about it.  The point is motherhood is about finding what God’s plan is for your life first, then your family, and then for each individual child.  Motherhood is about serving the individual needs of your children — not the needs of those who wish to condemn or critique your parenting.

Motherhood is also about courage.  It means that sometimes you do what is not popular within your social networks.  It means being willing to meet the needs of your family and children because of who God uniquely created them to be.

Sometimes, it also means parenting “blindly” because you don’t know the end results.  Sometimes, it means we don’t have all the answers and neither do all those around us.  Sometimes, it means you walk by faith and press forward even when circumstances are very discouraging.  So long as you know that you are doing and walking how God called you to walk, then by faith you press forward, even when you don’t know the outcome.  This, my friends, can be agonizing to the heart of a mother who would like to see immediate results and grieves over a child whose heart is not right.  It means surrendering ourselves, our goals, our lives, our plans, our dreams, and our children into the merciful and loving arms of our Heavenly Father.

Dear friends, accept the gift of whom God created you to be.  Discover those gifts within yourself and your kids.  Walk in your calling.  Encourage your children to walk in theirs.  Embrace His plan for your life and your children’s.  And breathe.  Allow your children to breathe.

Enjoy the dance of life with those precious ones!  The dance of life is so brief really.  So dance and dance it well.